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News Roundup – Government Shutdown, Texas Rangers

mad max

Well, hell, let’s shut it down. Everybody’s reporting that a government shutdown is just around the corner. We don’t need any stinking government. The government has only brought me pain and misery. Good riddance. Now I can do what I want. I can go where I want and I can drive as fast as I want. It is like Mad Max.

From WaPo:

“We will do everything we can to protect Americans against the harmful effects of Obamacare. This bill does that. We’re united in the House as Republicans,” Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said shortly after unveiling the plan to his rank and file. “Now it’s up to the Senate Democrats to answer.”

That response came quickly. Even before the House had a chance to vote on its proposal, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) blasted it as “pointless.” Democratic aides said the Senate would procedurally set aside the House amendments first thing Monday, leaving GOP leaders with a stark choice: approve the simple funding bill the Senate passed Friday or permit federal agencies to close.

“As I have said repeatedly, the Senate will reject any Republican attempt to force changes to the Affordable Care Act through a mandatory government funding bill,” Reid said in a written statement. “After weeks of futile political games from Republicans, we are still at square one.”

I’m sorry, I really can’t talk about this anymore. The bottom line is that one side as being completely and totally unreasonable. They want to play the game exactly their way or not at all. Our government was built on the proposition of compromise. In order to get anything done in Congress people have to compromise. If you don’t want to compromise, you don’t want our system of government. That is a monarchy. I am positive that the GOP does not want a monarchy with Barack Obama as king. Oh, they want a monarchy with somebody they like as king. Think Progress has a nice article on the GOP’s three-year history to a government shutdown. (more…)

By |2013-09-30T19:39:18-04:00September 28th, 2013|Obama administration, Party Politics, Sports|Comments Off on News Roundup – Government Shutdown, Texas Rangers

Oppositional Society and the Iraq War

Debate in our country has boiled down to our side versus their side

Debate in our country has boiled down to our side versus their side

Yesterday, I asked the question about whether the Iraq war could happen again. Could we, the American people, be pushed into a war of convenience rather than a war of necessity? Simply put, I believe the answer to this question is yes. My answer is yes because we live in an Oppositional Society. This concept, the Oppositional Society, was first proposed by Rebecca Costa in her fabulous book The Watchman’s Rattle. (I’m not sure who first proposed the idea of an Oppositional Society. I first read about the idea in this fabulous book.) Basically, Ms. Costa’s argument is that we boil very complex topics down to yes or no, right versus left, for or against.

If we look at how we debate major issues, we can clearly see how nuance and complexity of argument have been lost in the whole issue and the issue is boiled down to a yes or no question. Gun control. In my opinion, this is an amazingly complex issue. Can the government regulate guns? Most constitutional scholars will tell you that every right that is granted in the Bill of Rights is not absolute. Yet, in this debate, we’ve seen almost every aspect of nuance and complexity boiled down to yes versus no. Assault weapons. There are simply two sides of this debate. Should an American be able to buy an unlimited quantity of assault weapons? Yes or no.

We can come up with theories as to why the United States has gravitated to this extremely simplistic way of examining any problem. Personally, I believe that the majority of Americans get their “information” from the television. Television is extremely good at presenting two sides to any story or topic. Television gets a little bit messier when you present a third or fourth opinion. That simply doesn’t make for good television. Even when you have four or five or even six guests discussing a single topic like on CNBC or Bloomberg TV, the guests conveniently can be categorized into two groups for or against whatever topic is being discussed. Interestingly, this fits very neatly into our political system. Democrats. Republicans. Notice how any third party which pops up is shunted to the side and is painted as being out of the mainstream, crackpots, just as any idea that doesn’t help frame a question in a yes or no answer is also pushed to the side. (more…)

By |2013-03-25T21:43:30-04:00March 24th, 2013|Environment, Iraq, Media|Comments Off on Oppositional Society and the Iraq War

The trail to Osama Bin Laden

The world is an extremely complex place, filled with lots of nuance. Neither the right nor the left really has the correct narrative. One side wants to give President Barack Obama all the credit for tracking down Osama bin Laden. The other side wants to give President Bush all the credit. Neither narrative is true. One side wants to tell us that torture was completely vindicated by the death of Osama bin Laden. The other side wants us to know that torture had nothing whatsoever to do with the intelligence that led to the death of Osama bin Laden. In reality, the answer is probably somewhere in the middle. There is probably some shred of truth that some information came from torture or “enhanced interrogation techniques.” On the other hand, it is not clear if we’ve could’ve gotten that information in other ways. The same thing holds true for President Bush and President Obama. It is probably true that the changes that took place in the intelligence community laid the groundwork for the cooperation that we saw between special forces, the military, the FBI and the CIA. It is also true that President Barack Obama chose a team that can work together and get the job done. He was the one that authorized the team to go and get Osama bin Laden. He decided not to use predator drone strikes or a B-52 bombing raid. (I do not understand a spontaneous party outside of the former president’s house at one in the morning.)

While I believe in the rule of law, I also understand that Osama bin Laden is/was a killer. I understand that he murdered thousands of Americans and Muslims. I understand that, like Bonnie and Clyde or Pablo Escobar, he was not going to be taken quietly. He was not going to recite his own Miranda rights. I am completely comfortable with the president’s decision to kill Osama bin Laden. I also endorse the scrutiny and the questions about the legality of the president’s actions. I think this is a healthy debate. In the end, it doesn’t matter what other people decide. I know that if I were president, I would’ve authorized a strike on Osama bin Laden. Any president who wants to protect the American people would’ve made that decision. I understand. I think the American people understand. Now, let the lawyers figure it out.

Marcy Wheeler has a wonderful post on the trail of evidence that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden:

The AP has confirmed that intelligence leading to the courier that in turn led to Osama bin Laden came from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and–as I surmised earlier–Abu Faraj al-Libi while in CIA custody. But partly because of the language AP uses to describe this–and partly because the wingnuts love torture–many are drawing the wrong conclusion about it. Here’s what the AP says:

Current and former U.S. officials say that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, provided the nom de guerre of one of bin Laden’s most trusted aides. The CIA got similar information from Mohammed’s successor, Abu Faraj al-Libi. Both were subjected to harsh interrogation tactics inside CIA prisons in Poland and Romania.

Note what AP says: KSM provided the courier’s nom de guerre. The CIA got similar information from al-Libi. And they were tortured. The AP does not say torture led to this information.

Here’s what a senior administration official said last night about when they got the intelligence on the courier.

Detainees gave us his nom de guerre or his nickname and identified him as both a protégé of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of September 11th, and a trusted assistant of Abu Faraj al-Libbi, the former number three of al Qaeda who was captured in 2005.

Detainees also identified this man as one of the few al Qaeda couriers trusted by bin Laden. They indicated he might be living with and protecting bin Laden. But for years, we were unable to identify his true name or his location.

Four years ago, we uncovered his identity, and for operational reasons, I can’t go into details about his name or how we identified him, but about two years ago, after months of persistent effort, we identified areas in Pakistan where the courier and his brother operated. [my emphasis]

In other words, while the CIA may have learned the courier’s nickname earlier, they didn’t learn his true name until “four years ago”–so late 2006 at the earliest. And they didn’t learn where the courier operated until around 2009. (more…)

By |2011-05-04T11:16:02-04:00May 4th, 2011|9-11, Bin Laden, Obama administration|Comments Off on The trail to Osama Bin Laden
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