October, 2011

Oct 11

“Was Obama Right to Kill Awlaki?”

From Richard Miniter at the Daily Beast:

“President Obama’s targeted killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, who was born in New Mexico and died in Yemen fighting for al Qaeda, is a victory for America and for common sense.

“For the first time since the days of Abraham Lincoln, an American president has ordered the killing of a U.S. citizen, far from any battlefield or courtroom.

“And like Abraham Lincoln, Obama has saved the constitution and the country by defending it against a nihilistic and narrow reading of the constitution that would prevent the country from protecting itself.”


Oct 11

The US GOVT Sometimes DOES have the Right to Order a lethal attack on a U.S. Citizen, IF–

Gangster John Dillinger, wanted for murder and other federal crimes by the US government, was coming out of a theater with two ladies when he realized that the men staring at him outside were probably federal agents. Wikipedia tells us that Dillinger “turned his head and looked directly at Melvin Purvis as he walked by, glanced across the street, then moved ahead of his female companions, reached into his pocket but failed to extract his gun, and ran into a nearby alley.” The agents opened fire, shooting Dillinger down. That was in 1934. There was no outcry that I’ve heard of, protesting the federal government shooting down a US Citizen. He was a dangerous guy, a murderous gangster.

Suppose that federal agents became aware of the Oklahoma City bombers, just before the bombing was to happen–suppose they rushed to stop the bombing, and just had time to shoot the bombers before the building was blown up and all those people killed. Would anyone really object, finding the bomb (unexploded), afterwards? The sad thing is that it didn’t happen that way. Timothy Mcveigh and his partner were not intercepted, and ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY EIGHT PEOPLE DIED.

But McVeigh was executed–on the order of the President, eventually. He was executed on order of the United States government.

Anwar al-Awlaki was killed in Yemen on the order of the President. He is a man who’s plotted–and tried, through his pawns–to blow up airplanes full of people. He is an American citizen but he’s also a Jihadist terrorist. He was killed in order to prevent more civilian deaths–to protect American citizens. I maintain that it’s not much different than the case of Dillinger, despite Dillinger being a gangster and not a terrorist, and it’s even closer to the case of McVeigh. No one would have objected if federal agents had killed McVeigh to stop him blowing up 168 people. Anwar al-Awlaki was killed to stop him engaging in an Oklahoma City bombing scale of brutality…

The President, for the US Government, does sometimes have the right to order an attack like the one on Anwar al-Awlaki…if the target, though a U.S. citizen, is a significant danger to the people of the United States.

I’m speaking of moral and ethical rights–and surely precedent makes it a legal right, especially in the case of a terrorist sworn to commit acts of mass murder…

Oct 11

This has been bothering me for years so I’m just going to SAY IT

Even though I haven’t done enough of the necessary research to really back it up…I want to say…

That while our foreign aid is in theory a good thing, in practice it’s in large part a waste of money, for the simple reason that so much of it is stolen. Of course it’s notorious that a billion dollars in CASH, intended to help the Iraqis, was stolen in Iraq during the incompetent Bush administration by unknown persons; of course we’re aware that vast amounts of aid sent to Afghanistan is flat out stolen, billions ripped off, right out of their federal bank and a dozen other ways, some of it even ending up in the hands of the Taliban.

Many countries in Africa are essentially “kleptocracies”, where oligarchies steal from the people–from the treasure, and from foreign aid–routinely. In many cases only a small part of our foreign aid money goes where it’s supposed to go.

We’d save money if we’d simply spend money on people to administer the pay outs, carefully. Governments who don’t want those administrators from outside their borders simply don’t get the aid.

There’s also this way: CASH ON DELIVERY. “At its core is a contract between funders and recipients that stipulates a fixed payment for each unit of confirmed progress toward an agreed-upon goal. Once the contract is struck, the funder takes a hands-off approach, allowing the recipient the freedom and responsibility to achieve the goal on its own. Payment is made only after progress toward the goal is independently verified by a third party.”

Read about it here:

Oct 11

“U.S. Federal Reserve Secretly Loaned $1,200,000,000,000 in Public Money to Wall Street Firms”

Bizarre disconnect or practicality borne of desperation? From the Moral Low Ground website:

“…such liquidity lifelines encourage excessive risk-taking by firms which borrow money from the Fed, and the assumption that easy bailout money is readily available can lead to risky behavior. This is known as ‘moral hazard.’

“And speaking of morals, what does it say about our country that massive Wall Street firms get bailouts while ordinary citizens– homeowners and small business owners– got hung out to dry?”

From: http://morallowground.com/2011/08/22/u-s-federal-reserve-secretly-loaned-1200000000000-in-public-money-to-wall-street-firms/

Oct 11


Some alternative medicine, especially certain herbs and vitamin therapies, has proven useful; some standard medicine has proven deadly. But so far the evidence suggests that alternative medicine is a bad idea when it comes to dealing with serious, lethal diseases like cancer. And here’s a case in point…

From Skepticblog:

“I’m sad that today I’m adding a slide to one of my live presentations, adding Steve Jobs to the list of famous people who died treating terminal diseases with woo rather than with medicine…Steve, it turned out, had been treating his pancreatic cancer with a special diet [UPDATE] prescribed by the alternative medicine promoter Dr. Dean Ornish.

“Most pancreatic cancers are aggressive and always terminal, but Steve was lucky (if you can call it that) and had a rare form called an islet cell neuroendocrine tumor, which is actually quite treatable with excellent survival rates — if caught soon enough. The median survival is about a decade, but it depends on how soon it’s removed surgically. Steve caught his very early, and should have expected to survive much longer than a decade. Unfortunately Steve relied on a diet instead of early surgery. There is no evidence that diet has any effect on islet cell carcinoma. As he dieted for nine months, the tumor progressed, and took him from the high end to the low end of the survival rate.”


In related news, PSYCHICS PSUCK:

NEWSER) – A self-proclaimed psychic in California scared the bejeezus out of a 12-year-old girl by telling her that “horrible things” awaited her in the future, reports the Los Angeles Times. Then, police say, she told the girl that the curse could be lifted for the right price, which prompted the kid to steal $10,000 in family jewelry. Police have arrested the psychic on suspicion of extortion and are looking for other victims. They see jail in her future.

Oct 11

Are We At Last at the Turning Point?

Paul Krugman:

When the Occupy Wall Street protests began three weeks ago, most news organizations were derisive if they deigned to mention the events at all. For example, nine days into the protests, National Public Radio had provided no coverage whatsoever.

It is, therefore, a testament to the passion of those involved that the protests not only continued but grew, eventually becoming too big to ignore. With unions and a growing number of Democrats now expressing at least qualified support for the protesters, Occupy Wall Street is starting to look like an important event that might even eventually be seen as a turning point.

Read it here:

To read my suggestion for NINE DEMANDS the protesters could consider making, scroll down to my previous blog post…

Oct 11

NINE Basic Changes Needed – What the Wall Street Occupiers Could Demand

The press has sometimes complained that Wall Street Occupiers have no definite agenda. (They do have a consensus statement about what’s wrong, though, and I provide a link to that statement below.) Here’s a list of 9 possible demands they might want to debate.

1) Vigorously prosecute Wall Street criminals.

2) Reregulate Wall Street firms. Current regulations are minimal.

3) REQUIRE banks which received bailout money to triple the numbers and amounts of loans they make to small businesses.

4) DOUBLE taxes on millionaires–Mitt Romney made about $30 million last year and paid only 14%–and close all corporate tax loopholes. Tax Wall Street’s process of buying and selling with a value added tax for each transaction.

5) Congress should vote to overturn the decision by the Supreme Court giving full free speech and privacy to corporations in their use of media propaganda.

6) Call for public campaign financing so that politicians are not forced to be corrupt to be elected.

7) New laws and tax motivation to induce American industry to return outsourced jobs to America and to keep new jobs in America.

8 ) Enforce environmental laws.

9) Demand a bigger jobs program to restore American infrastructure and education.

And here you can see the context, the social dilemma that makes demands like these necessary, described in the Occupy Wall Street statement read on air by Keith Olbermann:


Oct 11

The redefinition of money? What the Hell is Shirley talking about?

I’m just going to wing this. More clarity later. But for now…

The time has come to rethink what money is. The time has come to ignore old definitions of what free market means, what capitalism is, what socialism is. the time has come to throw capitalism and socialism and “economics” as we understand it in the dust bin.

The time has come to recognize that money is merely a consensus agreement. “I agree with this group of people that I have a great deal of money. We agree that you don’t.We agree that I can eat. We agree that you can starve.”

The time will come when money is no longer treated as a meteorological phenomenon, some mysterious force of nature that people make predictions about. The time will not come when everyone has as much money as they would arbitrarily want. But the time will come when a computer is aware of every dollar (every unit of the global currency) in the world and shifts an always-available margin of money so that no extreme uncertainties manifest, no one is completely without resources or possibility. But the time will not come when laxity and laziness is rewarded.

The time has come to see money as a flow, as representative of an energy fluctuation, as an indicator rather than a fixed value.

The time has come to begin the redefinition of money.

Oct 11

Koch Brothers Profiting from Criminality

A Bloomberg Markets investigation has found that Koch Industries — in addition to being involved in improper payments to win business in Africa, India and the Middle East — has sold millions of dollars of petrochemical equipment to Iran, a country the U.S. identifies as a sponsor of global terrorism.


Just a heads-up, those of you who are soured on supporting Obama for President. If a Republican wins the Presidency, the Koch Brothers become, in effect, the President of the United States, because they pull the strings on the GOP.

Oct 11

The Occupy Wall Street Journal

The New York Times reports on the “Occupy Wall Street Journal” which is a newspaper passed out to the crowd at the protest in NYC. The four-page broadsheet “includes a story…headlined ‘The Revolution Begins at Home,’ an essay by the former New York Times war correspondent Chris Hedges urging people to participate in the protests, and a ‘Declaration of the Occupation’ approved at a meeting of protesters on Sept. 29.

“‘There are no excuses left,’ Mr. Hedges writes in a piece reprinted from the site Truthdig, where has a regular column.

“Either you obstruct, in the only form left to us, which is civil disobedience, the plundering by the criminal class on Wall Street and accelerated destruction of the ecosystem that sustains the human species, or become the passive enabler of a monstrous evil. Either you taste, feel and smell the intoxication of freedom and revolt or sink into the miasma of despair and apathy. Either you are a rebel or a slave.


The Achilles heel of these heroic protesters is their lack of clearcut demands. Hence they might seem, to some, to be protesting for the sake of protesting. But of course they’re not doing that–the gist of their message is probably that America was ripped off by Wall Street, by the big banks, by the major corporations, who thrive as the recession they created goes on. One problem with a consensus on their message is that there are tea party types amongst them, and libertarians, other people with a variety of agendas. But probably most of them can agree that the “banksters” need to be prosecuted and serious regulations instituted (the Tea Party-ers wouldn’t agree on that one), at the very least. If they could articulate that message in a united way, they would be more effective.