09/25/2014 archive

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”.

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Dennis J. Kucinich: The Real Reason We Are Bombing Syria

This attack on Syria, under the guise of striking ISIS, is by definition, a war of aggression. It is a violation of international law. It could lead to crimes against humanity and the deaths of untold numbers of innocent civilians. No amount of public relations or smooth talking can change that.

And yes, members of this Democratic administration, including the president who executed this policy, must be held accountable by the International Criminal Court and by the American people, who he serves.

But as we know, war is a powerful and cynical PR tactic. I expect the bombing of Syria will momentarily boost the White House’s popularity with self-serving heroic accounts of damage inflicted upon ISIS (and the U.S. equipment they use). Stuffing the November ballot box with bombs and missiles may even help the Democratic Party retain the Senate.

But after the election the voters will discover that the president played into the hands of extremists, hurt civilians, and embroiled our country deep into another conflict in the Middle East.

Jonathan Hafetz: Don’t Execute Those We Tortured

After years of legal battles, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, will finally be put on trial before a military commission at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, though a trial date hasn’t yet been set. If he is convicted, as expected, he will almost certainly face the death penalty. And, assuming one believes in the death penalty, it would be hard to think of a stronger candidate for its use.

But there are reasons Mr. Mohammed should not be executed, irrespective of how one feels about capital punishment. He was the victim of blatantly illegal treatment – the C.I.A. waterboarded him 183 times in March 2003, and threatened to kill his children while imprisoning him in a secret jail – at the hands of the government. [..]

The absence of accountability for those who encouraged and conducted torture leaves the criminal sentencing of convicted terrorists as one of the few tools, however imperfect, that remain for addressing past abuses of law, and restoring America’s reputation for dedication to the norms of international law. If convicted, Mr. Mohammed should be spared, because his execution – after years of mistreatment in a series of secret C.I.A.-run prisons before he was moved to Guantánamo – would send a disastrous message about impunity for torture and about the rule of law.

Robert Parry: Obama’s Novel Lawyering to Bomb Syria

The Obama administration has devised an extraordinary legal justification for carrying out bombing attacks inside Syria: that the United States and its Persian Gulf allies have the right to defend Iraq against the Islamic State because the Syrian government is unable to stop the cross-border terror group. [..]

Yet, beyond the danger to world order if such an expansive theory is embraced by the international community (does anyone remember how World War One got started?), there is the hypocrisy of the U.S. government and many of those same Gulf allies arming, training and funding Syrian rebels for the purpose of preventing the Syrian military from controlling its territory and then citing that lack of control as the rationale to ignore Syria’s sovereignty.

In other words, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and other enemies of Syria covertly backed the rebels inside Syria and watched as many of them – including thousands of the U.S.-preferred “moderates” – took their newly acquired military skills to al-Qaeda affiliates and other terrorist organizations. Then, the U.S. and its allies have the audacity to point to the existence of those terror groups inside Syria as a rationale for flying bombing raids into Syria.

Amy Goodman: Global Warming and Global Warring

Hours after 400,000 people joined in the largest climate march in history, the United States began bombing Syria, starting yet another war. The Pentagon claims that the targets were military installations of the Islamic State, in Syria and Iraq, as well a newly revealed terrorist outfit, the Khorasan Group. President Barack Obama is again leading the way to war, while simultaneously failing to address our rapidly worsening climate. The world is beset with twin crises, inextricably linked: global warming and global warring. Solutions to both exist, but won’t be achieved by bombing. [..]

Indeed, the Pentagon has long considered climate change to be a major threat to the national security of the United States. In its 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review, the Pentagon noted that the many impacts of climate change “will aggravate stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability, and social tensions-conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence.”

So it is fair to ask, why not address the threat of climate change when it is still possible? Asad Rehman, of the international environmental group Friends of the Earth, who was in New York for the climate march, told me, “If we can find the trillions [of dollars] we’re finding for conflict whether there’s been the invasion in Iraq or Afghanistan or now the conflict in Syria, then we can find the kind of money that’s required for the transformation that will deliver clean, renewable energy.”

Richard (RJ) Eskow: 100 Zephyrs: Why the Left Must Challenge Corporate Democrats

Writing in Real Clear Politics, my Campaign for America’s Future colleague Bill Scher dismisses Zephyr Teachout’s call for progressive primary challenges against conservative Democrats. Scher argues the left should focus instead on “gaining influence without launching a civil war,” arguing that “unlike the dynamic in the Republican Party, disagreements within the Democratic family are not debilitating.”

This idea has been raised before: that infighting between the party’s left and right wings are nothing more than a set of relatively minor policy differences within the “Democratic family” (to use Scher’s words), and that they’re best solved with genteel discussion and issue-oriented campaigns rather than “war”-like primary challenges.

It’s an attractive vision. Unfortunately, it’s also wrong. [..]

Elected Democrats must understand that a betrayal of their principles will have consequences for their electoral futures. There may be cases where a primary is ill-advised. But we need hundreds of Zephyr Teachouts, ready to challenge straying Dems when they break their campaign promises, shift their allegiances to the corporate “dark side,” or forget to “dance with the ones who brought ’em.”

You can call that “civil war” if you like. I prefer the term “democracy.”

On This Day In History September 25

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.

September 25 is the 268th day of the year (269th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 97 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1789, the Bill of Rights passes Congress.

The first Congress of the United States approves 12 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, and sends them to the states for ratification. The amendments, known as the Bill of Rights, were designed to protect the basic rights of U.S. citizens, guaranteeing the freedom of speech, press, assembly, and exercise of religion; the right to fair legal procedure and to bear arms; and that powers not delegated to the federal government were reserved for the states and the people.

The Bill of Rights is the name by which the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution are known. They were introduced by James Madison to the First United States Congress in 1789 as a series of articles, and came into effect on December 15, 1791, when they had been ratified by three-fourths of the States. An agreement to create the Bill of Rights helped to secure ratification of the Constitution itself. Thomas Jefferson was a supporter of the Bill of Rights.

The Bill of Rights prohibits Congress from making any law respecting any establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, guarantees free speech, free press, free assembly and association and the right to petition government for redress, forbids infringement of “…the right of the people to keep and bear Arms…”, and prohibits the federal government from depriving any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law. In federal criminal cases, it requires indictment by a grand jury for any capital or “infamous crime”, guarantees a speedy, public trial with an impartial jury composed of members of the state or judicial district in which the crime occurred, and prohibits double jeopardy. In addition, the Bill of Rights states that “the enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people,” and reserves all powers not specifically granted to the federal government to the people or the States. Most of these restrictions were later applied to the states by a series of decisions applying the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which was ratified in 1868, after the American Civil War.

The question of including a Bill of Rights in the body of the Constitution was discussed at the Philadelphia Convention on September 12, 1787. George Mason “wished the plan [the Constitution] had been prefaced with a Bill of Rights.” Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts “concurred in the idea & moved for a Committee to prepare a Bill of Rights.” Mr Sherman argued against a Bill of Rights stating that the “State Declarations of Rights are not repealed by this Constitution.” Mason then stated “The Laws of the U. S. are to be paramount to State Bills of Rights.” The motion was defeated with 10-Nays, 1-Absent, and No-Yeas.

Madison proposed the Bill of Rights while ideological conflict between Federalists and anti-Federalists, dating from the 1787 Philadelphia Convention, threatened the final ratification of the new national Constitution. It largely responded to the Constitution’s influential opponents, including prominent Founding Fathers, who argued that the Constitution should not be ratified because it failed to protect the fundamental principles of human liberty. The Bill was influenced by George Mason’s 1776 Virginia Declaration of Rights, the 1689 English Bill of Rights, works of the Age of Enlightenment pertaining to natural rights, and earlier English political documents such as Magna Carta (1215).

Two other articles were proposed to the States; only the last ten articles were ratified contemporaneously. They correspond to the First through Tenth Amendments to the Constitution. The proposed first Article, dealing with the number and apportionment of U.S. Representatives, never became part of the Constitution. The second Article, limiting the power of Congress to increase the salaries of its members, was ratified two centuries later as the 27th Amendment. Though they are incorporated into Madison’s document known as the “Bill of Rights”, neither article established protection of a right. For that reason, and also because the term had been applied to the first ten amendments long before the 27th Amendment was ratified, the term “Bill of Rights” in modern U.S. usage means only the ten amendments ratified in 1791.

The Bill of Rights plays a key role in American law and government, and remains a vital symbol of the freedoms and culture of the nation. One of the first fourteen copies of the Bill of Rights is on public display at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

The Breakfast Club (Science and Tech Thursday)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpg So what is “science”?

Well, to put it briefly, science is the study of phenomena characterized by the scientific method of either simply recording results in an objective way (observation)-

Objective journalism is one of the main reasons American politics has been allowed to be so corrupt for so long.  You can’t be objective about Nixon.

Or proposing a falsifiable hypothesis (a predictive model of reality that can be disproven by experiment) and devising an experiment to test it that is duplicable (if you perform it rather than I, you will get the same results) or supported by multiple independent observations (Economics is not science, it is a pack of tortise shell rattle shaking shamen).

And let’s not forget Einstein’s definition of insanity-

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

That.  Is.  Science.

Also this-

The law that entropy always increases holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature. If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell’s equations – then so much the worse for Maxwell’s equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation – well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.

Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World (1927)

Science Oriented Video!

Science/Tech News

Water vapor and clear skies discovered on Neptune-sized planet

Sarah Gray, Salon

Wednesday, Sep 24, 2014 05:03 PM EST

A major discovery was announced on Wednesday by NASA: Water vapor and clear skies were discovered on a Neptune-sized exoplanet outside of our solar system – 124 lightyears away.

The discovery of water vapor may immediately trigger giddy feelings – water is one of the building blocks of life, as we know it. However, the clear skies are just as exciting. Usually thick atmospheres prevent more in-depth study of Neptune-sized exoplanets.

Though, HAT-P-11b is not an Earth-sized planet in an habitable zone, this discovery is still furthering the discovery of more exoplanets. Astronomers hope to apply these similar discovery techniques to super-Earths, other exo-Neptunes and more.

Science/Tech Blogs

The Obligatories, News, and Blogs below.

Daily Kos/Democratic Party Asks Where is the Antiwar Movement

Rabble rouse, agitate, disturb, unsettle, disrupt, push, unnerve, disturb, battle.

“War is a Racket”  Come on, he didn’t mean some wars, he meant all wars!”  Figure it out.

I see Daily Kos, a partisan Democratic party political blog is asking “Where are the Antiwar Protests.”


Of course alot of us have been asking that same question for a long time, over ten years. But it’s ironic that a site like Daily Kos can be asking that question now.

We’re talking about a democratic party political blog that in cue with the party itself, has done more than it’s share to squash, ridicule, and marginalize antiwar and imperialism dissent since Obama took office. It is a blog with the singular goal of supporting the Democratic party, especially it’s feckless leader, no matter what it or Obama does. The Democratic party that does not represent you or me, the one that represents the 1% (or less). We all know about that, we’ve taken the Occupy training class. Repeat the mantra, 99 percent vs. 1 percent.

The Democratic party that is fully on board with U.S. imperialism. The current Democratic administration, led by a Democratic party POTUS and CINC, has taken U.S. imperialism to the mind bender stage. We’re talking what appears to be end game defcon level five to those who want to try to stop it. That’s a fact, there should be no doubt any longer, and make no mistake, what is happening in Iraq and Syria is U.S. imperialism in action. Just ask John McCain, or Lindsey Graham, or John Boehner. who agree with Obama.  If you believe them relative to what’s happening in Iraq and Syria right now, then you must be a Democrat.

It wasn’t always that bad, not when Bush was President. In fact, that site actually rode the coattails, unjustly considering it’s owner, management and agenda, of the antiwar movement by pretending to be against Bush (U.S.) imperialism while building it’s partisan democratic party corporate establishment blog. Although in the end, the semi-antiwar stance was deceitful and based on partisan poltiics instead of opposition to U.S. imperialism. Once Obama was elected, the democratic partisan’s savior who can do no wrong, it was all antiwar, anti-imperialism downhill from there for the Democratic party, partisan democrats, and Daily Kos. At this point there is just a tiny contingent remaining who will use their voices against war and imperialism on that site and in the Democratic party. There are many more that say they’re against U.S. imperialism but they continue to vote for the Democratic party which supports it. They have some soul searching to do if they are really against all this murder and manipulation. It’s pretty hard to support something and be against it at the same time, especially something so fucking evil.

It’s nearly always been the left leaning people who have led the protests against war and imperialism. There are still many out there, many organizations. Many of those organizations have been weakened since the early part of the century due to lack of participation (Obama), lack of money for organizing (Obama), and many are just plain getting old. Not enough new blood has taken up the slack at this point. Climate change seems to get the bigger share of the youth. Maybe they’re used to war now and think it’s normal. Maybe climate change is more fashionable because they can pretend to be earthy like the Indians. We’ve seen that before with the hippies. Then most of us became yippies. Yippiee!! Socrates knew, humans are predictable.

The Democratic Party is a warmonger imperialist political party. It fully supports U.S. imperialism from top to bottom. It is represented as such by the POTUS CINC, Obama, who has now attacked seven Muslim countries since in office, in less than six years. Can you count them? (Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, and Somolia.) The Democratic Party and Daily Kos have been right behind him all the way, including now with his illegal bombing in Iraq and Syria. At this point, neither has any moral standing left when it comes to war and imperialism. The verdict is in and they are both joined at the hip and all in for Obama’s imperialism and resulting wars. If you vote for and support the democratic party you are voting for U.S. imperialism and all it entails. It’s kind of like buying shirts from Walmart made in those Bangladesh sweatshop factories, only worse.  Hey man, own up.

What does that mean? It means what we’ve known for years, that the Democratic party and all it’s accoutrements is part of the establishment, part of the 1% or less of the population that it represents. There will be no participation against U.S. imperialism and it’s wars from the Democratic party or Daily Kos.

Until we get a republican president it will stay that way relative to the partisan democrats and the Democratic party. I think it’s too late for the party, which amazingly is prepping it’s serf delusionoid partisans for Hillary “Rodman” Clinton, warmonger and imperialist extraordinnaire. But, if an effort could be made, it would be to punish those democratic politicians, and by extension the entire party, by removing from office the 114 Democratic party congressional representatives (a higher percentage voting yes than republicans) and 44 Democratic party senators (also a higher percentage voting yes than republicans) that recently voted for the latest imperialist plan in the ME/NA region, H.J. Res. 124, Obama’s illegal imperialist war crime plan to bomb Iraq and Syria.

If you are against U.S. imperialism, DO NOT Vote for these people.  They are accessories to war crimes.



However that works out, we who are against U.S. imperialism should know that we cannot count on the Democratic party or any of it’s allegience subjects, not while Obama is President. We have over two more years of Obama as President. Many thought his second term would show less proclivity toward imperialism and war as a lame duck with no reelection aspirations. Those of us that knew better, knew the imperialist agenda would continue no matter what, the only factors being timing and tactics. Obama still has plenty of time to kill us all. And we have this big fucking political party supporting him.

TDS/TCR (Froo, Froo, Froofy the Dog)


Hit me with your best shot.

The Premium Beer at a Popular Price.

The real news and this week’s guests as well as Tony Zinni’s 3 part web exclusive extended interview below.

Dispatches From Hellpeckersville-Gutted

I should be happy today, Pa’s medical mj bill was finally passed by the state senate…I am happy for the select few it helps, you see, yesterday the bill was amended and Reefer Madness ruled the day.

Only ten medical conditions remain “acceptable” illnesses, while 30 or so more are not. Why? Your guess is as good as mine.

marijuana bill passes committee, heading for full Pa. Senate vote tomorrow

By Christina Kauffman |pennlive.com

on September 23, 2014 at 3:01 PM

The original bill enabled patients to use a vaporizer to inhale medical marijuana, but Folmer said there was a “fear that it was a sneaky way to smoke it.”

All non-smoking methods, including an oil-based orally administered treatment for children with intractable epilepsy, remain in the bill.

The number of conditions for which medical marijuana could be prescribed has been narrowed from about 40 to about a dozen.

Those still on the list include epilepsy, cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury and post-concussion syndrome, multiple sclerosis, severe fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s Disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Those removed from the list include AIDS, HIV, diabetes, migraine headaches, Tourette Syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, glaucoma, and Crohn’s Disease.

So, thirty conditions just tossed away, I have to wonder how they arrived at that. How they weighed it out, did they weigh it out? The risks and long term damage of so many prescription medications– overdose, addiction, liver and kidney damage, stomach ulcers, the list goes on, can anyone say the same of marijuana? The stroke of the pen looks so casual, did the person writing even give a thought to those affected as they went down the line with a yes or a no?

Medical marijuana in Pa. by PennLive