Daily Archive: 04/23/2013

Apr 23 2013

Die Schwerpunkt

In a battle of movement, a blitzkrieg, there is always a point that has the opportunity to be decisive in the final outcome.  It is at this point the opponents should marshal their effort even at the expense of less vital areas.

Successful Commanders are usually those who are able to swiftly shift their resources from point to point responding to changes in the situation and assemble a correlation of forces sufficient to thwart the ambitions of their adversary and (hopefully) reserve enough to move against newly exposed vulnerabilities.  Napoleon and Lee are good examples.

The significance of the metaphor is that fluid situations are… well, fluid frankly and a Revolutionary (no leaders or followers here, thank you) engaged in an asymetrical struggle against an overwhelmingly powerful adversary must be prepared to shift focus quickly, minimizing the inevitable and numerous setbacks

T.E. Lawrence

The Arabs might be a vapour, blowing where they listed. It seemed that a regular soldier might be helpless without a target. He would own the ground he sat on, and what he could poke his rifle at. The next step was to estimate how many posts they would need to contain this attack in depth, sedition putting up her head in every unoccupied one of these 100,000 square miles. They would have need of a fortified post every four square miles, and a post could not be less than 20 men. The Turks would need 600,000 men to meet the combined ill wills of all the local Arab people. They had 100,000 men available.

Most wars are wars of contact, both forces striving to keep in touch to avoid tactical surprise. The Arab war should be a war of detachment: to contain the enemy by the silent threat of a vast unknown desert, not disclosing themselves till the moment of attack. This attack need be only nominal, directed not against his men, but against his materials: so it should not seek for his main strength or his weaknesses, but for his most accessible material. In railway cutting this would be usually an empty stretch of rail. This was a tactical success. From this theory came to be developed ultimately an unconscious habit of never engaging the enemy at all. This chimed with the numerical plea of never giving the enemy’s soldier a target. Many Turks on the Arab front had no chance all the war to fire a shot, and correspondingly the Arabs were never on the defensive, except by rare accident.

(T)he Arab army was so weak physically that it could not let the metaphysical weapon rust unused. It had won a province when the civilians in it had been taught to die for the ideal of freedom: the presence or absence of the enemy was a secondary matter.

Battles are impositions on the side which believes itself weaker, made unavoidable either by lack of land-room, or by the need to defend a material property dearer than the lives of soldiers. The Arabs had nothing material to lose, so they were to defend nothing and to shoot nothing. Their cards were speed and time, not hitting power, and these gave them strategical rather than tactical strength.

The tactics were always tip and run; not pushes, but strokes. The Arab army never tried to maintain or improve an advantage, but to move off and strike again somewhere else. It used the smallest force in the quickest time at the farthest place. To continue the action till the enemy had changed his dispositions to resist it would have been to break the spirit of the fundamental rule of denying him targets.

With that in mind-

Coming Down The Pipeline

By Charles P. Pierce, Esquire Magazine

4/23/13 at 11:00AM

It really is remarkable at this point how completely tattered the case for building the pipeline actually is. The jobs claims have been debunked time and again as inflated. The public-safety promises from TransCanada, the corporation seeking to completely the pipeline, have collapsed as badly as that pipeline in Arkansas did. And, in a country that prizes bipartisanship as much as this one allegedly does, the coalition against the pipeline is as diverse as could ever be expected – ranchers and tree-huggers, scientists and Native American activists. On the other side is money and power, and a simple brute desire not to be frustrated by the lines of ranchers, tree-huggers, scientists, and Native American activists. That’s the whole fight now. One side wants what it wants because it wants it. Period. The president has to decide where he’s lining up.

Apr 23 2013

Bending to Paranoia and Fear

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

   Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

Ben would not be pleased with the government he helped create. Since before 9/11/2001, our rights had been slowly eroding, since then the notion of the rule of law and the Constitution seems quaint. “American’s don’t believe in shredding the Constitution to fight terror,” that was the headline of an article written by Greg Sargeant in the Washington Post‘s Plum Line. he points out a poll done by the Post that asked respondents:

Q: Which worries you more: that the government will not go far enough to investigate terrorism because of concerns about constitutional rights, or that it will go too far in compromising constitutional rights in order to investigate terrorism?

48% were more concerned the government would go too far; while 41% said it would not go far enough. While not a majority, it is still encouraging that there is a plurality that would like to see our Constitutional rights protected. Yet there are still those who would throw those rights away for false feeling of security. Fueled by the rhetoric of a terrorist in every Muslim community, some of our elected representatives and voices in the mainstream media have called for stripping the Constitutional rights of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, now charged with the bombings and deaths that resulted.

But the government and the media seem to be hung up on calling this incident, terrorism and labeling Tsarnaev a terrorist even before there was a motive or a connection to any terrorist organization. Writing at The Guardian, Glenn Greenwald wonders why Boston is ‘terrorism’ but not Aurora, Sandy Hook, Tucson and Columbine:

Over the last two years, the US has witnessed at least three other episodes of mass, indiscriminate violence that killed more people than the Boston bombings did: the Tucson shooting by Jared Loughner in which 19 people (including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords) were shot, six of whom died; the Aurora movie theater shooting by James Holmes in which 70 people were shot, 12 of whom died; and the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting by Adam Lanza in which 26 people (20 of whom were children) were shot and killed. The word “terrorism” was almost never used to describe that indiscriminate slaughter of innocent people, and none of the perpetrators of those attacks was charged with terrorism-related crimes. A decade earlier, two high school seniors in Colorado, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, used guns and bombs to murder 12 students and a teacher, and almost nobody called that “terrorism” either.

In the Boston case, however, exactly the opposite dynamic prevails. Particularly since the identity of the suspects was revealed, the word “terrorism” is being used by virtually everyone to describe what happened. After initially (and commendably) refraining from using the word, President Obama has since said that “we will investigate any associations that these terrorists may have had” and then said that “on Monday an act of terror wounded dozens and killed three people at the Boston Marathon”. But as (Ali) Abunimah notes, there is zero evidence that either of the two suspects had any connection to or involvement with any designated terrorist organization.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg added his opinion that in light of the Boston bombing, the Constitution needs to be “reinterpreted”:

“The people who are worried about privacy have a legitimate worry,” Mr. Bloomberg said during a press conference in Midtown. “But we live in a complex word where you’re going to have to have a level of security greater than you did back in the olden days, if you will. And our laws and our interpretation of the Constitution, I think, have to change.” [..]

“Look, we live in a very dangerous world. We know there are people who want to take away our freedoms. New Yorkers probably know that as much if not more than anybody else after the terrible tragedy of 9/11,” he said.

“We have to understand that in the world going forward, we’re going to have more cameras and that kind of stuff. That’s good in some sense, but it’s different from what we are used to,” he said.

A noun, a verb and 9/11? Mr. Bloomberg wants us to fear those who would “take away our freedoms.” We should fear the Michael Bloombergs and Rudolph Guilianis of the world.

At a bedside hearing, Tsarnaev was advised of his rights and was appointed a lawyer. He freely answered questions in writing, denying that there was a connection with any terrorist organization and the idea was his brother’s. He also told the court that they were motivated by extremist Islamic beliefs. But does that justify calling this terrorist act and labeling the brothers terrorists? Even so, is there ever a justification for denying a person their Constitutional rights?

Glenn joined Amy Goodman on Monday’s Democracy Now to discuss the issues that surround this case.

Transcript can be read here.

Apr 23 2013

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is 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

Robert Kuttner: Safe and Free

The emerging history of Dzohkahr Tsarnaev suggests that while the much-expanded national security establishment has been largely successful at thwarting organized assaults by terrorists, it cannot prevent a one-off attack by an extremist-influenced sociopath.

To do so would require turning our country into a police state.

When I was a graduate student, a refugee professor once told the class, “I grew up in Nazi Germany. It was a very safe place to walk the streets. Unless you were perceived to be an enemy of the state.”

How many more of us will have to be presumed enemies of the state in order for the rest of us to be safe from random bombers? After an attack like this, national security ratchets up, and never seems to ratchet back down. And some trade-offs are truly difficult.

Dean Baker: Deficits Are Bad and the Sun Goes Around the Earth

Most of us accept that the earth goes around the sun. This is impressive since we can look up in the sky and see the sun going around the earth. We believe the opposite because we have been told about the research of astronomers over the centuries showing that what we can see with our own two eyes is wrong. Instead we accept that the motion of the stars and planets can be much better explained by the earth going around the sun.

Suppose for a moment that astronomers and people who write on astronomy did not agree on earth or solar orbits. Imagine that a substantial group of these people, including many of the most prominent astronomers, insisted that the sun goes around the earth, as anyone can plainly see. In that case there would likely be huge numbers of people who refused to accept that the earth goes around the sun. This is the state of modern economics.

Anthony D. Romero: The Constitution Applies to All Americans, No Matter What They Are Accused Of

Our country has been shaken by the events coming out of Boston in the past week. First, of course, there was the tragedy and loss of life and injuries from the Marathon bombing, and the fear of not knowing what would happen next. Then the alleged perpetrators were found, and we now face a debate about whether the surviving suspect, a naturalized American citizen, will be read his Miranda rights or afforded the full protections guaranteed by the Constitution. [..]

In our democracy — a nation of immigrants — the thing that binds us together is not a common language or race or religion, but our commitment to certain inalienable rights. The right to remain silent. The right to confront your accuser in a court of law. The right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Self-evident truths. It all began in Boston — when a group of brave colonists resisted the yoke of a despotic king and sought freedom. Protecting Tsarnaev’s constitutional rights is the best tribute we could give to the storied legacy of that great city where our freedoms and rights first took hold.

Les Leopold: America’s New Math: 1 Wall Street Hour = 21 Years of Hard Work For the Rest of Us

The new Rich List is out — yet another example of financial pornography. While nearly 15 million Americans still can’t find jobs due to the 2008 Wall Street-created crash, the top hedge manager, David Tepper, earned $1,057,692 an HOUR in 2012 — that’s as much as the average American family makes in 21 years!

America’s new math: one Wall Street hour = 21 years of hard work for the rest of us. [..]

It’s not just that these financial gurus are filthy rich. It’s that they are the richest of the rich and we don’t even know what they do. Overall, hedge fund managers make 50 to 100 times more than our top athletes, movie stars, CEOs, lawyers, writers, doctors and celebrities. Yet, their activities are treated like state secrets.

Lee Fang: How the Climate Reform Effort Was Poisoned From the Inside

On this Earth Day, we are three years out from the last window of opportunity to pass a climate bill in America. Harvard University’s Theda Skocpol has done the best job so far in diagnosing why, at the outset of the Obama administration with large Democratic majorities in Congress, progressives failed to enact a law regulating or pricing carbon pollution. Her conclusion is that reformers spent too much resources on an “inside game” of lobbyists and dealmakers and not enough on grassroots campaigning, and that reformers failed to make the case about the dangers of global warming.

She’s right, but here’s another reason: The guys who managed the campaign were also secretly working alongside the opposition.

John Nichols: What ‘The Boston Globe’ Got Right and Why It Should Change How Papers Think

When editors at The Boston Globe recognized that their city had been bombed by suspected terrorists who were still at large, they immediately mustered a substantial and experienced newsgathering team to cover one of the most tragic, frightening and unsettling moments in the long history of a great American city.

They got the story, from the epic photos of the heroism of emergency workers last Monday to the remarkable announcement on Friday night of the apprehension of the second suspect in the bombing attack. [..]

And the Globe’s coverage was something else: Free. [..]

The readers came. On the day the paywall came down, the paper attracted 1.2 million unique visitors-six times the normal amount. Of course, dramatic events drew readers; of course, many of the new readers were from outside the Boston area. But the numbers were way, way higher-locally, nationally and even internationally-because readers did not have to jump through digital hoops and type in credit card numbers.

So dropping the paywall made sense from a standpoint of civic responsibility and from the classic journalistic standpoint of wanting to get new information and ideas to the broadest possible audience.

Apr 23 2013

Lack of Common Sense

Lack of Common Sense

I believe we seriously have a problem with our elected representatives in that there is a lack of common sense.  Let me ask a few questions.

Why does anyone need an automatic weapon with a 100 round clip?  Common sense tells us; no.  The second amendment would still allow handguns, shotguns and rifles.  This rush to protect automatic weapons from governmental laws will only increase violence.  More guns, more deaths.  Multiple deaths of innocents.  If I have to get a license to drive a car from the DMV and I have to get a license for my dog at City Hall, wouldn’t it make sense I would have to get a gun license from a place within our government?  I would think background checks would be more accurate than at a local gun show.  I also have to have insurance for my car and my dog is covered by my house insurance in case of any unforeseen accidents.  This would be a boondoggle for the insurance companies if insurance was required for any type of weapon.  The bigger the gun, the bigger the policy.  Why are we continuing to be a violent nation when all we have to do is use a little common sense?  How many dead children and devastated families does it take before we do the right thing?  Please give me the number and I will cry until we reach it.

When an individual is elected and swears to uphold the constitution, why are they allowed to sign a pledge with someone to not raise taxes?  Two masters is one too many.  Choose one or the other.  Is Grover more important than the constitution?  To me this seems treasonous.

Come on now, is a corporation really a person?  When a corporation signs up for a colonoscopy, I personally will grant them personhood.

Money is speech?  Here’s a dollar.  I have two words for you.  Get’em for fifty cents apiece.

Torture not prosecuted?  Dick Chaney and Dubya and Rumsfeld did more to tarnish our image around the world than any other administration in the history of our nation.  Why do we allow this from our elected officials?  We say we are a nation of laws, but only for the people, not the Executive Branch?  I wrote this to Holder way back when:

To have accountability or not to have accountability,

That is the question:

Whether tis nobler in the mind to just look forward

And forget the torture and lawlessness of the Bush Administration,

Or, to take up the rule of law, and prosecute them.

And by investigation and prosecution, end them.

Accountability or not-

No more-and by that we say, stop this.

This heartache and thousand felonious shocks

That Bush suffered the country with his legacy.

Tis accountability, devoutly to be wished.

Accountability or not-

Investigation and prosecution.  Ay, there’s the rub,

For with that sunshine of facts what crimes may come

When we have revealed the truth of the Neocons

Must give us pause.  There’s the respect

For the rule of law that makes us all equal.

For who would spurn the Constitution and its laws,

The cronies backdoor, the corporations outsourcing,

The pangs of Darth Vader, Gonzales’ no recall,

The insolence of Bush, the spurns

That merited the cries of Impeachment!

Then we learned the house and senate

Left our table bare.

How can these representatives say,

To those that grunt and sweat under a weary life,

That the dread of something other than Bush,

That history will prove him a great visionary,

It puzzles the will.

And makes us bear this shame upon our country,

That will last for eternity.

Will investigation make cowards of us all,

Will prosecution derive a resolution

Of the administration that had no law?

With this regard the rule of law

Must not lose the name of action.

Let’s just start with these issues.  Why can’t our elected officials deal with these issues with common sense?  What is stopping them from doing the right thing?  Someone please tell me.  Thank you.

Apr 23 2013

On This Day In History April 23

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.

April 23 is the 113th day of the year (114th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 252 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1564, William Shakespeare born.

According to tradition, the great English dramatist and poet William Shakespeare is born in Stratford-on-Avon on April 23, 1564. It is impossible to be certain the exact day on which he was born, but church records show that he was baptized on April 26, and three days was a customary amount of time to wait before baptizing a newborn. Shakespeare’s date of death is conclusively known, however: it was April 23, 1616. He was 52 years old and had retired to Stratford three years before.

Shakespeare’s father was probably a common tradesman. He became an alderman and bailiff in Stratford-upon-Avon, and Shakespeare was baptized in the town on April 26, 1564. At age 18, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, and the couple had a daughter in 1583 and twins in 1585. Hamnet, Shakespeare’s only son, died 11 years later, and Anne Shakespeare outlived her husband, dying in 1623. Nothing is known of the period between the birth of the twins and Shakespeare’s emergence as a playwright in London in the early 1590s, but unfounded stories have him stealing deer, joining a group of traveling players, becoming a schoolteacher, or serving as a soldier in the Low Countries.

Sometime later, Shakespeare set off for London to become an actor and by 1592 was well established in London’s theatrical world as both a performer and a playwright. The first reference to Shakespeare as a London playwright came in 1592, when a fellow dramatist, Robert Greene, wrote derogatorily of him on his deathbed. His earliest plays, including The Comedy of Errors and The Taming of the Shrew, were written in the early 1590s. Later in the decade, he wrote tragedies such as Romeo and Juliet (1594-1595) and comedies including The Merchant of Venice (1596-1597). His greatest tragedies were written after 1600, including Hamlet (1600-01), Othello (1604-05), King Lear (1605-06), and Macbeth (1605-1606).

Shakespeare died in Stratford-on-Avon on April 23, 1616. Today, nearly 400 years later, his plays are performed and read more often and in more nations than ever before. In a million words written over 20 years, he captured the full range of human emotions and conflicts with a precision that remains sharp today. As his great contemporary


Apr 23 2013

A Message From A Bostonian

Charlie Pierce  is a sportswriter, author and political blogger. He is also lives very near Boston. He writes several article a day for Esquire at his Politics Blog. His writing about the bombing incident and his appearances on “All In with Chris Hayes” over the last week have kept many of us grounded in seeking the facts. He now has a request of the “gobshites” that are still spinning on their speculative tops: “Please, for the love of almighty god, shut the fk up.”

I mean, seriously, padlock the pieholes. We are fine. We are muddling through. We are carrying on. We are getting up this morning and going about the business of our lives. We are riding the T, or driving on the Pike, or walking along open paths along the Charles River. We are eating lunch at Donohues or shopping at the Target in the Watertown Mall. (OK, some of us are still doing some rubbernecking at the several crime scenes.) We are dealing with the fact that Copley Square, the center of practically everything, is still something of a crime scene. (We’re getting a little grumpy about it, but that’s what we do here.) Our kids are going back to school. And we are doing all these things without particularly needing the pity, concern, or the Very Deep Thoughts of a pack of Green Room school nurses seeking to coin what we’ve all been through into their own unique brand of banality. We are not children here, and neither are our children. [..]

Seriously, though, people. We’re really doing OK. It was nice having y’all around for a week. Hope you spent a little dough. Now go home, please. We have lives to live.

Thanks, Charlie, we sure hope they take your advice but we have our doubts.

Apr 23 2013

In Memoriam: Richie Havens 1941 – 2013

Folk singer and guitarist Richie Havens passed away this morning from a sudden heart attack . He was 72.

Havens, widely admired for his briskly rhythmic guitar style and richly textured voice, became a part of history for serving as the opening performer at the Woodstock festival in 1969.

Havens transfixed the crowd at the start of that storied weekend. In a way, he had to. He was asked by the organizers to extend his set to nearly three hours to kill time since most of the other performers hadn’t yet reached the site, due to the choking crowds. Havens’ subsequent improvisation on the spiritual “Motherless Child” – threaded with his own inspired vamp of “Freedom” – become one of the festival’s signature sounds.

Havens’ reputation as a live performer earned him widespread notice. His Woodstock appearance proved to be a major turning point in his career. As the festival’s first performer, he held the crowd for nearly three hours (in part because he was told to perform a lengthy set because many artists were delayed in reaching the festival location), and was called back for several encores. Having run out of tunes, he improvised a song based on the old spiritual “Motherless Child” that became “Freedom”. The subsequent Woodstock movie release helped Havens reach a worldwide audience. He also appeared at the Isle of Wight Festival in late August 1969. [..]

Increasingly, Havens devoted his energies to educating young people about ecological issues. In the mid-1970s, he co-founded the Northwind Undersea Institute, an oceanographic children’s museum on City Island in the Bronx. That, in turn, led to the creation of The Natural Guard, an organization Richie describes as “a way of helping kids learn that they can have a hands-on role in affecting the environment. Children study the land, water, and air in their own communities and see how they can make positive changes from something as simple as planting a garden in an abandoned lot.

Richie passed away on Earth Day.

May the Goddess guide him on his journey to the Summerlands. May his family and and friends and all the world find Peace.

Freedom at Woodstock 1969

Blessed Be. The Wheel Turns