Daily Archive: 08/05/2014

Aug 05 2014

US Government Manipulating the Press

We all know that the government manipulates the news with its propaganda that became obvious with the exposure of New York Times reporter Judith Miller’s complicity in spreading the lies that led to the illegal invasion of Iraq. Since then the government has been caught requesting the press withhold stories, or like today, leaking a scoop to another media outlet, a new low.

Spy Agency Stole Scoop From Media Outlet And Handed It To The AP

By Ryan Grim, The Huffington Post

The Associated Press dropped a significant scoop on Tuesday afternoon, reporting that in the last several years the U.S. government’s terrorism watch list has doubled.

A few minutes after the AP story consisting of three paragraphs was posted at 12:32 p.m., The Intercept published a much more comprehensive article. [..]

The government, it turned out, had “spoiled the scoop,” an informally forbidden practice in the world of journalism. To spoil a scoop, the subject of a story, when asked for comment, tips off a different, typically friendlier outlet in the hopes of diminishing the attention the first outlet would have received. Tuesday’s AP story was much friendlier to the government’s position, explaining the surge of individuals added to the watch list as an ongoing response to a foiled terror plot.

The practice of spoiling a scoop is frowned upon because it destroys trust between the journalist and the subject. In the future, the journalist is much less willing to share the contents of his or her reporting with that subject, which means the subject is given less time, or no time at all, to respond with concerns about the reporting.

According to Mr. Grim, The Intercept editor, John Cook, called the National Counterterrorism Center, the subject of the story by The Intercept article by Ryan Devereaux and Jeremy Scahill. Mr. Cook informed the official he spoke with that in the future the agency would only be given a 30 minute time frame to respond to questions about articles before they are published.

I don’t know if Associated Press reporter, Eileen Sullivan, was aware of The Intercept article, or if she was given access to the classified documents (pdf) on which the articles are based. I suspect she was spoon fed the information for the government friendly piece she wrote since she has no links to the documents. The link to the classified file was tweeted by Glenn Greenwald this afternoon.

Now the government is telling CNN that they believe there is a new “leaker”. Nice try, “folks,” but this isn’t about who leaked what but exposing just how much the government us intruding into the lives of its citizens and totally disregarding guaranteed constitutional rights and the law.

Don’t forget to read the article, Barack Obama’s Secret Terrorist-Tracking System, by the Numbers by Jeremy and Ryan at The Intercept, it is quite an eye opener.

Aug 05 2014

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

Richard (RJ) Eskow: As Congress Adjourns, GOP Declares ‘Omission Accomplished’

Our long national nightmare is over — for the moment. Congress has adjourned for summer recess after a session which can safely be described as “historic,” both for its historic lack of accomplishment and the historically low regard in which it is now held by the public.

But let’s be clear: This shameful record is not an example of “government failure.” It is a demonstration of what happens when people who are opposed to government, for reasons of both ideology and self-interest, are given positions of power within it and do not face a sufficiently eloquent and well-organized opposition.

Doing nothing is not a bug for Republicans in Congress. It is a feature.

They  appear to be evolving from a rhetorically extreme but ultimately self-interested body — a phenomenon which is disturbing in its moral implications but at least somewhat predictable in its behavior — into something else altogether: a rhetorically extreme group that actually believes its rhetoric.

Sooner or later that will force the GOP’s Democratic opponents to confront the question: What do they believe in, and what will they do to achieve it?

Dean Baker: Inflation Hawks: The Job Killers at the Fed

Discussions of inflation and Federal Reserve Board policy take place primarily in the business media. That’s unfortunate, because these discussions can have more impact on the jobs and wages of most workers than almost any other policy imaginable.

The context of these discussions is that many economists, including some in policy making positions at the Fed, claim that the labor market is getting too tight. They argue this is leading to more rapid wage growth, which will cause more inflation and that this would be really bad news for the economy. Therefore they want the Fed to raise interest rates.

The part of this story that few people seem to grasp is that point of raising interest is to kill jobs. If that sounds like a bizarre accusation to make against responsible people in public life then you need to pick up an introductory economics text.

The story line there is that we get inflation if too many people are employed. There are all sorts of ways of making the story more complicated, and many people get PhDs in economics doing just that, but the basic point is a simple one: at lower rates of unemployment workers have more bargaining power and are therefore able to push up their wages.

Ivan Eland: A Constitutional Scandal Worse Than Iran-Contra or Watergate

The stark admission by the CIA’s inspector general that the agency had broken into a classified computer network used by its overseers at the Senate Intelligence Committee violates the core principle of separation of powers of governmental branches enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. Along with the CIA’s illegal rendition, detention, and torture of suspected terrorists and the NSA’s secret monitoring of Americans’ phone traffic, it shows that U.S. spy agencies are in danger of going rogue and need to be severely disciplined. Such intelligence organizations are supposed to defend the republic and not undermine it.

The situation could not be better summed up than by Senator Mark Udall (D-CO), a member of Senate Intelligence Committee and proponent of stronger congressional oversight of the intelligence agencies, when he called for CIA Director John Brennan’s resignation over the matter: “The CIA unconstitutionally spied on Congress by hacking into the Senate Intelligence Committee computers. This grave misconduct not only is illegal but it violates the U.S. Constitution’s requirement of separation of powers.” The checks and balances system of the U.S. Constitution, uniquely American and one of the main breaks against government run amok, is severely undermined when congressional oversight of the executive branch is impeded, as it was in this case.

Scott Lemieux: We almost certainly execute innocent people with cruelty. This isn’t justice

Recent events have revealed a fundamental truth about capital punishment in the United States: lethal injections administered by the states have an alarming tendency to torture people to death. There were terribly botched executions in Florida in 2006 (revealed this year) , in Oklahoma in April and then last month in Arizona, where Joseph Wood took two hours to die and had to be injected 15 times with an “experimental” cocktail of drugs.

And yet, as horrifying as these torturous executions are, some people dismissed the horrors by noting that there was no doubt about the guilt of the condemned. But it would be unwise to assume that everyone condemned to death is guilty of a terrible crime: a ]new report from the Marshall Project http://www.washingtonpost.com/… explains how, only a decade ago, Texas executed a man who was almost certainly innocent – and did so in a way that makes it enormously unlikely that he was the only innocent man to die in the state’s high-volume execution chambers.

Norman Solomon: Obama’s War on Journalism Coming to a Head

A Supreme Court ruling against NYT reporter James Risen, who is refusing to reveal sources, leaves the Department of Justice with a serious decision to make on whether it will finally defend press freedoms or continue its attack on them.

Ten months after the Committee to Protect Journalists issued its scathing report “The Obama Administration and the Press,” journalists and potential whistleblowers continue to face unprecedented surveillance and legal jeopardy. The report, authored by Leonard Downie Jr., former executive editor of The Washington Post, remains grimly up to date as it describes “the fearful atmosphere surrounding contacts between American journalists and government sources.”

The US Department of Justice seems determined to intensify that fearful atmosphere-in part by threatening to jail New York Times reporter James Risen, who refuses to name any source for the disclosure in his 2006 book State of War that the CIA bungled a dumb and dangerous operation with nuclear weapons blueprints in Iran.

The government is now prosecuting a former CIA employee, Jeffrey Sterling, for allegedly leaking that information to Risen. Attorney General Eric Holder may soon decide whether he wants to imprison Risen for not capitulating. The Freedom of the Press Foundation calls it “one of the most significant press freedom cases in decades.”

Chris Lehmann: The Obama White House’s latest brand of data mining

If press secretary Jay Carney becomes a Silicon Valley flack, it would be only a logical extension of his previous gig

Former White House spokesman Jay Carney, reliably attuned to the tenor of our times via his long zeitgeist apprenticeship at Time magazine, is reportedly on the brink of a new career in Silicon Valley’s great disruption industry. Some tech observers have pegged him as the likeliest candidate to head up Apple’s communications juggernaut. (And some, well, haven’t.) Others see him as the dream flack for Uber, the upstart ride-sharing app that’s now muscling traditional cabbies out of their livelihoods in tech-savvy metropolises across the country while frantically seeking to indemnify itself from litigation involving safety lapses, regulatory trespasses and less savory practices.

Wherever the administration’s smirking, spike-haired lead media handler lands, no one should be surprised by reports of his pursuit of Big Tech rather than Wall Street or K Street – and not simply because the San Francisco Peninsula has become a center of wealth and power to rival and at times surpass its East Coast competition. Barack Obama’s White House has long and loudly advertised its weakness for smart technological fixes to stubborn policy quandaries, from the launch of drone warfare to gadget-happy bids to improve sluggish public school performance. The National Security Agency surveillance scandal is (along with much else) exhaustive testimony to the permanent high-tech intoxication of our national security state. If George W. Bush’s White House reflected the MBA presidency, its successor represents the rise of the venture capital presidency.

Aug 05 2014

The Breakfast Club 8-5-2014

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Everyone’s welcome here, no special handshake required. Just check your meta at the door.

Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpg

This Day in History

Aug 05 2014

On This Day In History August 5

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 images to enlarge

August 5 is the 217th day of the year (218th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 148 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1957, American Bandstand goes national

Television, rock and roll and teenagers. In the late 1950s, when television and rock and roll were new and when the biggest generation in American history was just about to enter its teens, it took a bit of originality to see the potential power in this now-obvious combination. The man who saw that potential more clearly than any other was a 26-year-old native of upstate New York named Dick Clark, who transformed himself and a local Philadelphia television program into two of the most culturally significant forces of the early rock-and-roll era. His iconic show, American Bandstand, began broadcasting nationally on this day in 1957, beaming images of clean-cut, average teenagers dancing to the not-so-clean-cut Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” to 67 ABC affiliates across the nation.

The show that evolved into American Bandstand began on Philadephia’s WFIL-TV in 1952, a few years before the popular ascension of rock and roll. Hosted by local radio personality Bob Horn, the original Bandstand nevertheless established much of the basic format of its later incarnation. In the first year after Dick Clark took over as host in the summer of 1956, Bandstand remained a popular local hit, but it took Clark’s ambition to help it break out. When the ABC television network polled its affiliates in 1957 for suggestions to fill its 3:30 p.m. time slot, Clark pushed hard for Bandstand, which network executives picked up and scheduled for an August 5, 1957 premiere.

Aug 05 2014

A Fractured Fairy Tale

When presidents lie to make a war

DD Guttenplan, The Guardian

Saturday 2 August 2014 05.00 EDT

Once there was a president who warned the world about conduct his government would not tolerate. And when this “red line” was crossed, or seemed to be, he took the US to war. Though this might sound like America’s involvement in Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Belgrade, or Libya, and what may yet become a wider war in Syria, this story began 50 years ago, on 4 August 1964.

That was when Lyndon Johnson interrupted TV broadcasts shortly before midnight to announce that two US ships in the Gulf of Tonkin had come under fire in international waters, and that in response to what the president described as this “unprovoked” attack, “air action is now in execution” against “facilities in North Vietnam which have been used in these hostile operations”.

The Americans launched 64 bombing sorties, destroying an oil depot, a coal mine and a significant portion of the North Vietnamese navy. Three days later, both houses of Congress passed a joint resolution authorising “the president, as commander-in-chief, to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the US and to prevent further aggression”. Within three years the US would have 500,000 soldiers in Vietnam. Even today, the Gulf of Tonkin resolution remains the template for presidential war-making.

That 4 August, Daniel Ellsberg was starting work at the Pentagon. A young mathematician who had served as a captain in the marines, then gone on to graduate study at Harvard and a job as a civilian analyst for the Rand Corporation, where he had helped shape America’s response to the Cuban missile crisis, Ellsberg was among the first to receive the classified “flash” signal from the USS Turner Joy, the battleship that claimed to be under attack.

Transcript

Transcript

Like Barack Obama, Lyndon Johnson was a president who felt “the fierce urgency of now” to address the glaring inequalities of American society. Just a month earlier, with Martin Luther King Jr standing at his side he had signed the civil rights act, ending racial segregation. And as the Pulitzer prizewinning historian Frederik Logevall told me, “Johnson apparently said in the spring of ’64, ‘I don’t think we can win in Vietnam and I don’t think we can get out.’ You can have all the military power in the world, but if you can’t win the thing politically then you’re not going to succeed.”

Reading headlines from Syria, or watching the news from Iraq – where an army which had been trained and equipped at enormous expense simply laid down their weapons and ran away, abandoning territory that had cost British and American troops their lives -it has been impossible to resist the sensation, in the words of the great Yankee catcher Yogi Berra, that this was “deja vu all over again”. Listening to Obama and David Cameron respond to the debacle in Iraq, I kept hearing echoes of President Kennedy declaring in September 1963: “I don’t think that unless a greater effort is made by the government to win popular support that the war can be won out there.”

Thanks to Edward Snowden and the Guardian we know a great deal more about how Britain and America view the world – and their own citizens – than was even suspected in 1964. But we still may have to wait decades to find out what George Bush said to Tony Blair about Iraq, or what Obama told David Cameron about Syria. We can, however, finally tell the full story of what happened – and didn’t – in the Gulf of Tonkin.

Wars, Lies and Audiotape

Other than the fact that the Turner Joy wasn’t a ‘battleship’ except in the broadest sense of a ship that goes into battle (Forrest Sherman-class destroyer) pretty much dead on.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. – Santayana

Aug 05 2014

Mocking the Maven

(note: So I found this little gem in this piece-)

Thomas Friedman has no soul: The New York Times’ quasi-journalistic Wall-E does it again

Richard (R.J.) Eskow, Salon

Monday, Aug 4, 2014 04:45 PM EST

After our last disquisition on Tom Friedman we thought we were through with him for good. But the violations of decency have become too great, or our spirit has grown too weak. Whatever the cause, a soul cries out at last:  In the name of all that is decent and holy, will this man never stop?

The latest outrage is a column about Madagascar titled “Maybe in America,” and it goes beyond parody – and even beyond that entertaining automated Tom Friedman column generator someone created a while back – to give us a distillate of Friedman in his purest form.

Friedman has usurped the column generator’s role. In the globalized and digitized world he celebrates, he seems to have finally outsourced himself.

Yes- random Bucksbaum!  Ersatz but virtually indistinguishable from the real thing!

Check it out.

New Rules

Not by Mr. Bucksbaum, nor published in Izvestia

August 4, 2014

Imagine if industrial giants sat down with ordinary people like you and me and ironed out some real solutions to our higher education crisis.

With the election season over, maybe you’ve forgotten about higher education, but I certainly haven’t. It would be easy to forget that the problem even exists, when our headlines are constantly splashed with the violence in Uruguay, the authoritarian crackdown in Syria and the still-unstable democratic transition in Honduras. But the higher education problem is growing, and politicians are more divided than ever. Republicans seem to think that higher education can just be ignored. Democratic politicians like Harry Reid, on the other hand, seem to think that shrill rhetoric will substitute for a solution.

But the Democratic party of Harry Reid is not the Democratic party of Franklin Roosevelt. FDR wouldn’t refuse to budge, he’d break ranks with members of his own party because he’d understand that the fate of the country, and his own political career, depended on a lasting solution to the problem of higher education.

It’s good to see the talks between the president and congress getting off to a solid start, but we know there will be plenty of partisan fireworks before any deal is cut. If I had fifteen minutes to pitch my idea to politicians, I’d tell them two things about higher education. First, there’s no way around the issue unless we’re prepared to spend less: and not just spend less, but spend smarter by investing in the kind of human capital that makes countries succeed. That’s going to require some tax cuts as well, but as they say, “Ya gotta get down to brass tacks.”

Second, I’d tell them to look at Sweden, which all but solved its higher education crisis over the past decade. When I visited Sweden in 2002, Mwambe, the cabbie who drove me from the airport, couldn’t stop telling me about how he had to take a second job because of the high cost of higher education. I caught up with Mwambe in Stockholm last year. Thanks to Sweden’s reformed approach toward higher education, Mwambe has enough money in his pocket to finally be able to afford a soccer ball for his kids.

That’s all it takes. Don’t expect to see any solutions as long as industry captains insist on playing a high-stakes game of ping pong with one another. America has to become a first world country again.

Iron Empires and Iron Fists in Australia

Not by Mr. Bucksbaum, nor published in Izvestia

August 4, 2014

What has been going on in Australia is unbelievable, and it has been on my mind ever since it began. It is impossible not to be tantalized by the potential of these events to change the course of Australia’s history. What’s important, however, is that we focus on what this means to the people. The media seems too caught up in spinning the facts to pay attention to how their people are doing. Just call it missing the battle for the bullets.

When thinking about the recent problems, it’s important to remember three things: One, people don’t behave like computer programs, so attempts to treat them as such are a waste of time. Computer programs never suddenly blow themselves up. Two, Australia has spent decades as a dictatorship closed to the world, so a mindset of peace and stability will seem foreign and strange. And three, freedom is an extraordinarily powerful idea: If ethnic conflict is Australia’s curtain rod, then freedom is certainly its flowerpot.

When I was in Australia last August, I was amazed by the variety of the local cuisine, and that tells me two things. It tells me that the citizens of Australia have no shortage of potential entrepreneurs, and that is a good beginning to grow from. Second, it tells me that people in Australia are just like people anywhere else on this flat earth of ours.

So what should we do about the chaos in Australia? Well, it’s easier to start with what we should not do. We should not let seemingly endless frustrations cause the people of Australia to doubt their chance at progress. Beyond that, we need to be careful to nurture the fragile foundations of peace. The opportunity is there, but I worry that the path to stability is so narrow that Australia will have to move down it very slowly. And of course Canberra needs to come to terms with its own history.

Speaking with a small business entrepreneur from the large Suni community here, I asked her if there was any message that she wanted me to carry back home with me. She pondered for a second, and then smiled and said, respre austee, which is a local saying that means roughly, “A sly rabbit will have three openings to its den.”

I don’t know what Australia will be like a few years from now, but I do know that it will probably look very different from the country we see now, even if it remains true to its basic cultural heritage. I know this because, through all the disorder, the people still haven’t lost sight of their dreams.

Time for Leadership

Not by Mr. Bucksbaum, nor published in Izvestia

August 4, 2014

An interesting thought occurred to me today-what if industrial giants sat down with ordinary people like you and me and ironed out some real solutions to our same-sex marriage crisis?

With the election season over, maybe you’ve forgotten about same-sex marriage, but I certainly haven’t. It would be easy to forget that the problem even exists, when our headlines are constantly splashed with the violence in Maldives, the authoritarian crackdown in Mexico and the still-unstable democratic transition in Spain. But the same-sex marriage problem is growing, and politicians are more divided than ever. Republicans seem to think that same-sex marriage can just be ignored. Democratic politicians like Nancy Pelosi, on the other hand, seem to think that unscientific rhetoric will substitute for a solution.

But the Democratic party of Nancy Pelosi is not the Democratic party of Lyndon Johnson. Johnson wouldn’t just filibuster, he’d reach across the aisle because he’d understand that the fate of the country, and his own political career, depended on a lasting solution to the problem of same-sex marriage.

Let’s make America for the world what Cape Canaveral was to America: the world’s greatest launching pad. If I had fifteen minutes to pitch my idea to politicians, I’d tell them two things about same-sex marriage. First, there’s no way around the issue unless we’re prepared to spend less: and not just spend less, but spend smarter by investing in the kind of national infrastructure that makes countries succeed. That’s going to require some tax cuts as well, but as they say, “Ain’t nothing to it but to do it.”

Second, I’d tell them to look at Singapore, which all but solved its same-sex marriage crisis over the past decade. When I visited Singapore in 2001, Mwambe, the cabbie who drove me from the airport, couldn’t stop telling me about how he had to take a second job because of the high cost of same-sex marriage. I caught up with Mwambe in Singapore last year. Thanks to Singapore’s reformed approach toward same-sex marriage, Mwambe has enough money in his pocket to finally be able to afford a soccer ball for his kids.

That’s all it takes. Don’t expect to see any solutions as long as politicians insist on playing a high-stakes game of ping pong with one another. America has to rise above it all.

In Turkmenistan’s World, it’s the Past vs. the Future

Not by Mr. Bucksbaum, nor published in Izvestia

August 4, 2014

Yesterday’s news from Turkmenistan is truly historic, and it raises questions about whether there might just be light at the end of the tunnel. What’s important, however, is that we focus on what this means to the people. The current administration seems too caught up in worrying about their own skins to pay attention to what’s important on the ground. Just call it missing the fields for the wheat.

When thinking about the ongoing troubles, it’s important to remember three things: One, people don’t behave like muppets, so attempts to treat them as such are going to come across as foreign. Muppets never suddenly blow themselves up. Two, Turkmenistan has spent decades as a dictatorship closed to the world, so a mindset of peace and stability will seem foreign and strange. And three, capitalism is an extraordinarily powerful idea: If corruption is Turkmenistan’s glass ceiling, then capitalism is certainly its flowerpot.

When I was in Turkmenistan last June, I was amazed by the variety of the local cuisine, and that tells me two things. It tells me that the citizens of Turkmenistan have no shortage of courage, and that is a good beginning to grow from. Second, it tells me that people in Turkmenistan are just like people anywhere else on this flat earth of ours.

So what should we do about the chaos in Turkmenistan? Well, it’s easier to start with what we should not do. We should not lob a handful of cruise missiles and hope that some explosions will snap Turkmenistan’s leaders to attention. Beyond that, we need to be careful to nurture the fragile foundations of peace. The opportunity is there, but I worry that the path to peace is so narrow that Turkmenistan will have to move down it very slowly. And of course Ashgabat needs to cooperate.

Speaking with a local farmer from the small orthodox community here, I asked him if there was any message that he wanted me to carry back home with me. He pondered for a second, and then smiled and said, ahim bin tal, which is a local saying that means roughly, “A baby is an alimentary canal with a loud voice at one end and no responsibility at the other.”

I don’t know what Turkmenistan will be like a few years from now, but I do know that it will probably look very different from the country we see now, even if it remains true to its basic cultural heritage. I know this because, through all the disorder, the people still haven’t lost sight of their dreams.

Why Nations Fail

Not by Mr. Bucksbaum, nor published in Izvestia

August 5, 2014

An interesting thought occurred to me today-what if industrial giants sat down with ordinary people like you and me and ironed out some real solutions to our health insurance crisis?

With the election season over, maybe you’ve forgotten about health insurance, but I certainly haven’t. It would be easy to forget that the problem even exists, when our headlines are constantly splashed with the violence in Bhutan, the authoritarian crackdown in Rwanda and the still-unstable democratic transition in Luxembourg. But the health insurance problem is growing, and politicians are more divided than ever. Democrats seem to think that health insurance can just be ignored. Republican politicians like Rand Paul, on the other hand, seem to think that shrill rhetoric will substitute for a compromise.

But the Republican party of Rand Paul is not the Republican party of Ronald Reagan. Reagan wouldn’t refuse to budge, he’d reach across the aisle because he’d understand that the fate of the country, and his own political career, depended on a lasting solution to the problem of health insurance.

Let’s make America for the world what Cape Canaveral was to America: the world’s greatest launching pad. If I had fifteen minutes to pitch my idea to politicians, I’d tell them two things about health insurance. First, there’s no way around the issue unless we’re prepared to spend less: and not just spend less, but spend smarter by investing in the kind of human capital that makes countries succeed. That’s going to require some tax cuts as well, but as they say, “them’s the breaks.”

Second, I’d tell them to look at Norway, which all but solved its health insurance crisis over the past decade. When I visited Norway in 2000, Mwambe, the cabbie who drove me from the airport, couldn’t stop telling me about how he had to take a fourth job because of the high cost of health insurance. I caught up with Mwambe in Oslo last year. Thanks to Norway’s reformed approach toward health insurance, Mwambe has enough money in his pocket to finally be able to afford a playground for his kids.

That’s all it takes. Don’t expect to see any solutions as long as fringe bloggers insist on playing a high-stakes game of blackjack with one another. America’s got to call a time-out.

The Other Arab Spring

Not by Mr. Bucksbaum, nor published in Izvestia

August 5, 2014

Last week’s events in Kiribati were earth-flattening, although we may not know for years or even decades what their final meaning is. What’s important, however, is that we focus on what this means to the citizens themselves. The current administration seems too caught up in worrying about their own skins to pay attention to the important effects on daily life. Just call it missing the myths for the lie.

When thinking about the ongoing turmoil, it’s important to remember three things: One, people don’t behave like migratory birds, so attempts to treat them as such inevitably look foolish. Migratory birds never suddenly blow themselves up. Two, Kiribati has spent decades being batted back and forth between colonial powers, so a mindset of peace and stability will seem foreign and strange. And three, hope is an extraordinarily powerful idea: If authoritarianism is Kiribati’s ironing board, then hope is certainly its flowerpot.

When I was in Kiribati last June, I was amazed by the level of Westernization for such a closed society, and that tells me two things. It tells me that the citizens of Kiribati have no shortage of human capital, and that is a good beginning to grow from. Second, it tells me that people in Kiribati are just like people anywhere else on this flat earth of ours.

So what should we do about the chaos in Kiribati? Well, it’s easier to start with what we should not do. We should not lob a handful of cruise missiles and hope that some explosions will snap Kiribati’s leaders to attention. Beyond that, we need to be careful to nurture the fragile foundations of peace. The opportunity is there, but I worry that the path to stability is so narrow that Kiribati will have to move down it very slowly. And of course Tarawa Atoll needs to cooperate.

Speaking with a up-and-coming violinist from the unpopular Protestant community here, I asked her if there was any message that she wanted me to carry back home with me. She pondered for a second, and then smiled and said, shakka-do-lakka-the, which is a local saying that means roughly, “That tea is sweetest whose herbs have dried longest.”

I don’t know what Kiribati will be like a few years from now, but I do know that it will remain true to its cultural heritage, even if it looks very different from the country we see now. I know this because, through all the disorder, the people still haven’t lost sight of their dreams.

Aug 05 2014

TDS/TCR (Worse Than Watergate)

TDS TCR

Are you ready for some Throwball?

Giants 17 – 13 over Bills in Hall of Fame Game.

A used $2 bill?!

For this week’s guests and the real news join me below.