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News Roundup – domestic spying, gun violence and more

The news media erupted yesterday with the news that the United States government, our government, is spying on its own citizens. Domestic Spying. I had a distinct sense of déjà vu. Weren’t we just talking about this a couple years ago? It was just six or seven years ago when we found out that the Bush administration, through the NSA and other agencies, was listening in on our conversations. We were told that this was necessary in order to combat terrorism. Since the initial revelation, we came to understand that the Bush administration was mischaracterizing (or lying, depending upon your perspective) about the extent of the domestic spying program. Initially, we were told that the domestic spying program only involved overseas switches in which the NSA would scan American foreign calls. Slowly but surely we found out that this program was far more extensive. Conservatives told us not to worry. Now, when conservatives find out that the Obama administration has been continuing this exact same program, there is outrage. From my standpoint, I have no idea whether this program is helping to keep Americans safe or if it is an unnecessary violation of our privacy. As I understand the program the NSA is allowed to collect a bunch of data, but they’re not able to look at individual calls or listen to individual calls unless they go back to the FISA court and ask for permission.

I must admit I have not been following the case of a man who asked for an escort and then shot that woman for not performing sexual acts. Somehow, the accused man was able to convince a jury that it was okay to kill a prostitute because under Texas law you can use deadly force to retrieve stolen property. Yep, I don’t understand it either.

Our whole culture around sexual assault and rape seems to be completely backwards to American ideals. A Fox News host was “baffled” that MSNBC was covering the military sexual assault hearings. She said, “Sex crimes in a military, they are a real issue. There’s no doubt about that. I’m not going to poo poo it and say it’s not. What baffles me though is the way they prioritize these issues. The timing and the tone of them. If these were liberal groups targeted by George W. Bush, they would not be covering sex assault in the military. … Why is MSNBC devoting so much time to this issue when, as David Axelrod points out, there are so many other issues to deal with?” First of all, I find the statement mind-boggling. Why isn’t this a big story? Why shouldn’t this be promoted? Should the military be forced to change their ways? Shouldn’t Americans be informed about this issue that has been swept under the carpet for way too long?

What stories are you following today?

By |2013-06-09T10:26:24-04:00June 7th, 2013|Domestic Spying, Mass Shooting|Comments Off on News Roundup – domestic spying, gun violence and more

Brother, can you spare $4 trillion?

I continue to be flabbergasted by the callousness of Republicans. Eric Cantor has decided that $2 billion isn’t worth worrying about. I guess if you can’t worry about $2 billion then maybe $4 trillion could get his attention, maybe. The fact that the direct and indirect costs of the war could be as much as $4 trillion is not really a revelation to me. The problem I have is that Republicans continue to insist that throughout the Bush administration these wars were not to be expensive. As a matter fact, they suggested that it would be cheap. Remember how Donald Rumsfeld and his minions suggested that Iraq would pay for itself using oil revenues? We never even had the opportunity to have a real debate over the cost of the war because the wars were “paid for” by supplemental funding (deficit spending). Not once did Republicans stand up as a group and state they were spending an enormous amount of money and getting almost nothing in return. Not one of them said that we needed to cut something in order to pay for the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. Not one of them suggested that we needed to raise revenues in order to pay for these wars. Yet, now, when we try to spend money to stimulate the economy and make life better for the middle class, the Republicans are having none of it. Their hypocrisy is infuriating.

From Yahoo News:

When President Barack Obama cited cost as a reason to bring troops home from Afghanistan, he referred to a $1 trillion price tag for America’s wars.

Staggering as it is, that figure grossly underestimates the total cost of wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan to the U.S. Treasury and ignores more imposing costs yet to come, according to a study released on Wednesday.

The final bill will run at least $3.7 trillion and could reach as high as $4.4 trillion, according to the research project “Costs of War” by Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies. (

In the 10 years since U.S. troops went into Afghanistan to root out the al Qaeda leaders behind the September 11, 2001, attacks, spending on the conflicts totaled $2.3 trillion to $2.7 trillion.

Those numbers will continue to soar when considering often overlooked costs such as long-term obligations to wounded veterans and projected war spending from 2012 through 2020. The estimates do not include at least $1 trillion more in interest payments coming due and many billions more in expenses that cannot be counted, according to the study. (more…)

By |2011-06-30T15:07:46-04:00June 30th, 2011|Budget, Military|Comments Off on Brother, can you spare $4 trillion?

Conversions of confusions

I just spent 90 minutes on the phone with Dell Computers, excluding the 30 minutes that I spent on Dell Chat. Have I got my computer problem solved? No. Do I feel as if I’ve been wasting my time? Maybe. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.  Man, I’m growing to hate corporate America.

  • President Barack Obama has promised an era of “open government.” He promised us a government that was going to be more transparent. Well, today’s revelation seems to be less transparent. It seems to be more George Bush and less candidate Obama. The White House was set to release torture photos. Somehow, at the last minute, these photos were not released. The White House stated that they did not want to further endanger our troops. Our troops are already in harm’s way. Personally, I would like for all of our troops to come home. But, if the president and his advisers have decided we need to be in Afghanistan then I will reluctantly support our president in this endeavor. I will always support our troops but I don’t see how withholding the truth, no matter how despicable that truth is, is in our best interest. Showing the world that we don’t hide our mistakes… wouldn’t that be a good thing? It seems to me, as a nation, we need to stop living a lie.
  • So we had the torture hearings today. I’m not exactly sure what we learned. Prominent Republicans are trying to find ways to justify the torture that was done. Prominent Democrats are outraged… at least sort of. Possibly the only major breakthrough was that a long time FBI interrogator clearly stated that torture does not work. Sen. Russ Feingold (in my opinion one of the finest senators in the Capital) stated that he would like the intelligence committee and the White House to release not only the documents that VP Cheney has asked for but many other documents. He states he’s read these documents and they clearly show that torture does not work. Again, we know this from various sources. We know that the techniques used by the CIA are intended to elicit false confessions rather than accurate, actionable intelligence.

Watch the video:

By |2009-05-13T20:59:37-04:00May 13th, 2009|Al Qaeda, Bush Administration, Obama administration, Senate, Torture|Comments Off on Conversions of confusions
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