Daily Archive: 06/03/2012

Jun 03 2012

Rant of the Week: Stephen Colbert

Barack Obama’s Righteous Drone Strikes

The government takes out Al Qaeda’s “number two,” and Barack Obama finds an alternative to shutting down Guantanamo Bay.

Obama has carried out more than five times the number of covert drone strikes as George Bush.

So what’s behind Obama’s righteous drone strikes? Could it be he is just gunning for another Novel Peace Prize?

Rather than sending prisoners to GITMO, he is taking the high road by sending them to their maker. As the New York Times, puts it Mr, Obama has avoided the complications of detention by deciding to take no prisoners alive.

It’s brilliant. He doesn’t have to worry about habeas corpus because after a drone strike sometimes you can’t even fond the corpus

That brings us to:

The Word – Two Birds With One Drone

The Obama administration reasons that anyone in a strike zone is likely Al Qaeda, so no one has to feel guilty about civilian casualties.

Jun 03 2012

On This Day In History June 3

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.

Click on image to enlarge

June 3 is the 154th day of the year (155th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 211 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1916, United States President Woodrow Wilson signs into law the National Defense Act, which expanded the size and scope of the National Guard, the network of states’ militias that had been developing steadily since colonial times, and guaranteed its status as the nation’s permanent reserve force.

The National Defense Act of 1916 provided for an expanded army during peace and wartime, fourfold expansion of the National Guard, the creation of an Officers’ and an Enlisted Reserve Corps, plus the creation of a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps in colleges and universities. The President was also given authority, in case of war or national emergency, to mobilize the National Guard for the duration of the emergency.

The act was passed amidst the “preparedness controversy”, a brief frenzy of great public concern over the state of preparation of the United States armed forces, and shortly after Pancho Villa’s cross-border raid on Columbus, New Mexico. Its chief proponent was James Hay of Virginia, the chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs.

Sponsored by Rep. Julius Kahn (R) of California and drafted by the House Chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs Rep. James Hay (D) of Virginia, it authorized an army of 175,000 men, a National Guard of 450,000 men. It created the modern Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and empowered the President to place obligatory orders with manufacturers capable of producing war materials.

Langley Field in Virginia was built as part of the act. Now U.S. Air Force Command HQ as Langley Air Force Base, this “aerodrome” was named after air pioneer Samuel Pierpont Langley (died 1904). The President also requested the National Academy of Sciences to establish the National Research Council to conduct research into the potential of mathematical, biological, and physical science applications for defense. It allocated over $17 million to the Army to build 375 new aeroplanes.

Perhaps most important, it established the right of the President to “Federalize” the National Guard in times of emergency, with individual States’ militias reverting to their control upon the end of the declared emergency. With the Defense Act, Congress was also concerned with ensuring the supply of nitrates (used to make munitions), and it authorized the construction of two nitrate-manufacturing plants and a dam for hydropower as a national defense measure. President Wilson chose Muscle Shoals, Alabama as the site of the dam. The dam was later named for him, and the two Nitrate plants built in Muscle Shoals were later rolled into the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1933.

Developments after September 11, 2001

Prior to the attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001, the National Guard’s general policy regarding mobilization was that Guardsmen would be required to serve no more than one year cumulative on active duty (with no more than six months overseas) for each five years of regular drill. Due to strains placed on active duty units following the attacks, the possible mobilization time was increased to 18 months (with no more than one year overseas). Additional strains placed on military units as a result of the invasion of Iraq further increased the amount of time a Guardsman could be mobilized to 24 months. Current Department of Defense policy is that no Guardsman will be involuntarily activated for more than 24 months (cumulative) in one six year enlistment period.

Traditionally, most National Guard personnel serve “One weekend a month, two weeks a year”, although personnel in highly operational or high demand units serve far more frequently. Typical examples are pilots, navigators and aircrewmen in active flying assignments, primarily in the Air National Guard and to a lesser extent in the Army National Guard. A significant number also serve in a full-time capacity in roles such as Active Guard and Reserve (AGR) or Air Reserve Technician or Army Reserve Technician (ART).

The “One weekend a month, two weeks a year” slogan has lost most of its relevance since the Iraq War, when nearly 28% of total US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan at the end of 2007 consisted of mobilized personnel of the National Guard and other Reserve components.

Jun 03 2012

What About Syria?

Can the world stop the brutal crackdown in Syria?

Up with Chris Hayes panelists Colonel Jack Jacobs, MSNBC military analyst; Karam Nachar, an activist who has been working with opposition leaders in Syria; Jeremy Scahill of The Nation magazine; and Josh Treviño of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, discuss the international community’s inability to reach a consensus on how to stop President Bashar Al-Assad’s crackdown on protests in Syria.

In the second segment, the panel discusses whether civil war is inevitable in Syria, and whether there’s anything the United States and the world can do to stop it.

Should the US intervene to stop a civil war in Syria?

Syria’s President Bashar Assad, who took over power from is father in 2000, denied that government forces took part in last week’s gruesome Houla massacre and is accusing outsiders for fueling terrorists and extremist in the unrest that started 14 months ago.

In his hourlong address, Mr. Assad offered no specific response to Mr. Annan’s plea for bold steps to end the conflict.

Instead he repeated many of his earlier pledges to maintain a crackdown on opponents he described as terrorists added by interfering foreign governments and he again offered to sit down with opposition figures who have avoided armed conflict or outside backing.  [..]

Last month’s massacre in Houla of 108 people, mostly women and children, triggered global outrage and warnings that Syria’s relentless bloodshed – undimmed by Mr. Annan’s April 12 cease-fire deal – could engulf the Middle East.

Western powers have accused Syrian forces and pro-Assad militia of responsibility for the May 25 Houla killing, a charge Damascus has denied.

On Saturday, fighting killed 89 people, including 57 soldiers

The casualties also included 29 civilians and three army defectors killed in various regions of the country in shelling by regime forces or in clashes or gunfire, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Asked about the high number of troops killed in recent days, the Observatory’s Rami Abdel-Rahman told AFP: “This relates to the sharp increase in clashes across the country. Troops are vulnerable to heavy losses because they are not trained for street battles and are therefore exposed to attacks.”

France has stated that it will not intervene in military action unless it is sanctioned by the United Nations:

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told an Asian security summit Sunday that the international community should increase sanctions and pressure in an effort to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad. An anti-government uprising has raged for more than a year in Syria.

The conflict is now spreading cross boarder into Lebanon with some heavy fighting in Lebanon:

Bloody clashes between pro- and anti-Syrian regime fighters raged on early Sunday in Tripoli, Lebanon, a day after the deadliest outburst of violence there in recent weeks indicated Syria’s turmoil continues spilling across borders.

Twelve people were killed and about 50 were wounded in fighting on Saturday, the state-run National News Agency reported. [..]

Clashes in both nations pit Sunnis, who make up the majority of the Syrian opposition and population, against Alawites and other Shiites, who are dominant in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

There is no easy solution.

Jun 03 2012

Punting the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

Punting the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

The Sunday Talking Heads:

Up with Chris Hayes:On Sunday morning Chris welcomes Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, authors of It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism, for their long-awaited first time discussing the controversial book on a national Sunday news program.

Chris’ Sunday panel guests are Michael Steele (@Steele_Michael), MSNBC analyst and former Republican National Committee chairman; Michelle Bernard (@MichelleBernard), MSNBC political analyst and president of the Bernard Center for Women, Politics & Public Policy; Ari Berman (@ariberman), political correspondent for The Nation; Randi Weingarten (@rweingarten), president of the American Federation of Teachers; Bob Herbert (@BobHerbert), distinguished senior fellow at Demos.org; John Nichols (@nicholsuprising), Washington D.C. correspondent for The Nation; and Judith Browne-Dianis (@jbrownedianis), co-director of The Advancement Project.

The Melissa Harris-Perry Show: The website did not list Sunday’s guests.

This Week with George Stephanopolis: Coming up this Sunday, Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter faces off with Romney campaign senior advisor Eric Fehrnstrom on the “This Week” powerhouse roundtable, with ABC News’ George Will, Democratic strategist and ABC News contributor Donna Brazile, and Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, author of the new book “End This Depression Now!

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer: This Sunday Mr. Schieffer’a guests are President Obama’s campaign advisor David Axelrod and RNC Chairman Rience Priebus; the panel guests are Gov. Ed Rendell (D-PA), and author of “A Nation of Wusses,” Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), The Washington Post‘s Michael Gerson and The Week’s Bob Shrum

David Sanger, author of “Confront and Conceal,” and Daniel Klaidman, author of “Kill and Capture,” join Bob to discuss President Obama’s evolving foreign policy strategy

The Chris Matthews Show: The week’s guests are Katty Kay

BBC Washington Correspondent; Andrew Sullivan The Daily Beast Editor, The Dish; Andrea Mitchell NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent; and John Heilemann New York Magazine National Political Correspondent

Meet the Press with David Gregory: Sunday’s guests are Obama backer Gov. Deval Patrick (D-MA) and governor of the important battleground state Ohio and Romney backer, John Kasich (R).

The political roundtable will weigh in on the latest campaign positioning: Romney Senior Adviser Kevin Madden, Former McCain ’08 Senior Strategist Steve Schmidt, President of the Center for American Progress Neera Tanden, and Atlanta’s Mayor Kasim Reed (D).

State of the Union with Candy Crowley: Ms. Crowley’s guests are Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett; Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia; Senators Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Mark Warner (D-VA); the Washington Post‘s Dan Balz, the Wall Street Journal‘s Stephen Moore and Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Analytics.

Jun 03 2012

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

In Occupied Tibetan Monastery, a Reason for Fiery Deaths



One young Tibetan monk walked down a street kicking Chinese military vehicles, then left a suicide note condemning an official ban on a religious ceremony. Another smiled often, and preferred to talk about Buddhism rather than politics. A third man, a former monk, liked herding animals with nomads.

All had worn the crimson robes of Kirti Monastery, a venerable institution of learning ringed by mountains on the eastern edge of the Tibetan plateau. All set themselves on fire to protest Chinese rule. Two died.

At least 38 Tibetans have set fire to themselves since 2009, and 29 have died, according to the International Campaign for Tibet, an advocacy group in Washington.

Sunday’s Headlines:

Dare nine men defy the siren call of Christine Lagarde?

Mubarak will die in jail, but that’s no thanks to us

SAS free four hostages in daring Afghanistan raid

Participants Commend Bank’s Role In Africa’s Development

Did Kabul gunbattle change Afghans’ view of their army?