Wednesday, May 15, 2013

America is Clearly Tired

or maybe it's just a lack of imagination or experience, but I tend to think tiredness is what it's got to be.

How else do you explain that the lazy, crap answer that the Attorney General of United States got away with in his defense of the lazy, crap way of 'fighting terrorism' that seems to be the hallmark of Obama's administration.  If Bush's approach was head down, pile into crap.  Obama seems to take the approach of head held high, pile into crap.

As I can see it, the administration discovered a leak and went with a route that was bureaucratically clever, but ultimately really dumb.

But before we go further, let's look at the lazy statement with which we are presented.

...the article by The A.P. that prompted a criminal investigation as among “the top two or three most serious leaks that I’ve ever seen” in a 35-year career.
Top two or three leaks in his career...he's not sure.  Could be second most serious.  Could be the third. These things are hard to gauge, you know?  But it clearly isn't the most serious leak he's ever seen.  So for the not most serious leak ever, we've got some serious overreach and a great deal of heavy-handedness with how this matter was approached.

The AP was treated as an enemy in this case and kept in the dark as they sought out this serious breach.


What was the MOST serious breach, and what did they do then?  How many laws were breached, how  many bridges burned?  Assuming there is no scandal behind the more serious security leak, why was there one now?

Is it because Americans are tired and don't care?  Saying something secret was released by an article that threatened lives and then not telling us what it was sounds a lot like lying.

Taken by itself, it sounds like a case of misguided ambitions and overreach.  Add to it Fast and Furious and the legal justification for the kill list and it looks like the AG has a completely psychotic group that thinks that they can do whatever the hell they want.  Also add to it...which accomplishments?  What redeeming factor remains for this man and his crew?

The man needs to go.  But more importantly, the administration and the government needs to get chastened by this enough that they think twice before pulling this kind of crap again.  And the crap I am specifically referring to is the type that comes when you are so sure of your own intelligence you make colossal mistakes and still expect to get treated like you're infallible and doing the right thing all the time.  The media needs to revoke the government's right to brief them on what is 'happening' because it seems like they really don't have a clue what's even going on in their organizations.

I think the media should pull out all journalists from these briefings until after Holder goes bye-bye and Presidential kill lists are declared unconstitutional again.  Not that I can impact that, just saying...


  1. Well, I think "tired" might be one way to sum it up. But I think "lazy" and "stupid" are others.

    This has been a long time coming, and there is no real reason that it's going to go away any time soon. The devolution of the courtier press is pretty far accomplished, there's no real pressure from the public - remember the immense riots that broke out back in 2008 with Congress - by a huge bipartisan vote - handed out clearly unconstitutional and illegal immunity to the telecoms that had been caught helping the Bushies spy on Americans?

    Yeah, me neither.

    So this is beyond a matter of "this man needs to go". The USG as an institution now sees the vast bulk of Constitutional privacy protections as pure formalities. The "national security state" is a matter of accepted reality for pretty much most of the "leadership" on both sides of the aisle, and We the People are either too tired, too lazy, too stupid, or too confused to find this actionable.

    And that is the ONLY way that this or any future Administration will be "chastened". The media - which is utterly supine where not actively working as a stenographer for the pols who want to do this stuff - won't act. The Left is utterly deconstructed. The Right is fired up with lunatic energy but actively LIKES this stuff; they see it as only working against the Scary Brown People. The lumpen middle is utterly shiftless as it always has been.

    What's insanely frustrating is that there's no need to declare Presidential kill lists "unconstitutional again". The U.S. government has NEVER had a legal means to issue some sort of bill of outlawry and deprive someone of the protections of civil or criminal laws.

    I'd opine that a lot of this goes back to the worst aspect of the 2001 AUMF; that it went beyond any statutes in effectively "declaring war" on individuals rather than states, a place that the U.S. had never gone before. This sort of illegality comes from the same wellspring IMO, and there is no hope of stopping it from reoccurring until that poison spring is shut off.

  2. And for some reason the NYT keeps crashing when I try to access the linked article, but I got a snort of cynical amusement that this stupidity is considered part of a "trio of crises". Hmmm...let me guess; the "trio" consists of:

    1. "Benghazi, Benghazi BENGHAZI!!!"
    2. The IRS' pursuit of teatard outfits trying to grift tax-exempt status, and
    3. This thing.

    Which, when you think about it, is perhaps the single biggest marker we need to look at when contemplating this crap, and a sad, sorry indictment of how the Obama Administration's "Let's look forward, not back! policy worked out with regard to the feral children that now populate the Canvas Sportjacket faction of the GOP.

    I mean, you had none, zero, zip, nada Congressional investigations, subpoenas, hearings, outrage when the previous administration was using ridiculous transparent lies, damned lies, and outright lies to get the nation into two utterly ridiculous land wars in Asia, spy on Americans, run secret prisons and torture people. A total of...ummm...well...nobody every got denied judgeships or executive agency positions because of their advocacy of or participation in these illegal and ultimately massively self-destructive acts.

    Goddamn Dick Cheney, a man who did more to debase the United States since Benedict Arnold tried and failed to sell West Point to the British, is still a popular booking on CNN and MSNBC.

    And yet this administration - that, for all its faults, is demonstrably less corrupt, less malicious, more competent, and more transparent - has been dogged by these constant fishing expeditions and ginned-up "crises" practically from the moment Obama took his hand off the Bible back in 2009.

    I hold no brief with this administration. Its sole virtue in my estimation is that it is relatively less corrupt, less malicious, more competent, and more transparent than a Republican administration (given the precedents we've had ranging from Iran-Contra to Iraq to Katrina) would have been.

    But the bottom line is that nobody of any weight ever payed any real price for the real misadventures, mistakes, and malicious acts of the Nixon and Reagan administrations. Hell, nobody ever paid for the lies exposed by the Pentagon Papers back in the Johnson and Kennedy Administrations!

    We have made immunizing the powerful our national policy, and failed to distinguish between these sorts of ridiculous petty (or in the cases of Benghazi, Benghazi, BENGHAZI!" and the IRS audits, utterly fabricated) "crises" and real genuine crimes that - having been perpetrated successfully - have convinced our powerful that they ARE immune to legal sanction.

    Is it any surprise that a supposedly "liberal" Administration continues to follow the trails that the "conservative" administrations before them pioneered?

    Not to me. Disgusting? Sure. Infuriating? Yep. But not surprising.

  3. Pretty good summary of these "crises":

  4. And here's a good observation from the Klein piece:

    There’s no evidence that the DoJ did anything illegal. Most people, in fact, think it was well within its rights to seize the phone records of Associated Press reporters. And if the Obama administration has been overzealous in prosecuting leakers, well, the GOP has been arguing that the White House hasn’t taken national security leaks seriously enough. The AP/DoJ fight has caused that position to flip, and now members of Congress are concerned that the DoJ is going after leaks too aggressively. But it’s hard for a political party to prosecute wrongdoing when they disagree with the potential remedies.

    Insofar as there’s a “scandal” here, it’s more about what is legal than what isn’t. The DoJ simply has extraordinary power, under existing law, to spy on ordinary citizens — members of the media included. The White House is trying to change existing law by encouraging Sen. Chuck Schumer to reintroduce the Media Shield Act. The Post’s Rachel Weiner has a good rundown of what the bill would do. It’s likely that the measure’s national security exemption would make it relatively toothless in this particular case, but if Congress is worried, they always can — and probably should — take that language out. Still, that legislation has been killed by Republicans before, and it’s likely to be killed by them again.

    I'm going to agree that they shouldn't be chasing these leaks; that's the POINT of a free press, and if you're not doing fucked up shit you shouldn't have to worry about stuff like that. But Klein's point is still valid; technically of all these phony "crises" this one is the phoniest.

  5. Chief - " But Klein's point is still valid; technically of all these phony "crises" this one is the phoniest."

    Phonier than the false outrage in the Senate over Benghazi??? Mr Klein would need to do a lot of explaining to me before I would ever come to accept that.

    And some tax dodgers trying to scam the IRS should be investigated regardless of their phony names or so-called associations. The anger from some on the right may be genuine by a few retards in Congress, but certainly it has been phonied up and spun by the GOP leadership for political advantage.

  6. mike: Only in that there literally doesn't appear to be a legal ground for any question of what happened.

    The Benghazi thing actually DOES raise questions, but ones that have nothing to do with the bullshit the GOP is fuming about. But, given the state of Libya, why the hell was that consulate even open? Why did State, DoD, and the CIA waste time pissing on each other and not shutter the damn thing and get the staff (and, fairly importantly, the intel guys that shouldn't have been in such an exposed position) back to Tripoli where they could be defended?

    And the IRS thing is kinda bullshit, but only in that the local staff guys just lumped the teatards in a group. Frankly, they should have audited every damn one of the things; the law as written is a goddamn insult...

  7. To all,
    Re tax dodgers. Hope i'm OT.
    We have churches tax exempt , but yet preachers tell, yes i said TELL the congregation how to vote and IRS ignores this fact. These churches are both right and left on the spectrum. I just find it strange that IRS chose the right wing groups to dump on.
    BTW didn't Nixon use the IRS to target and harass his enemies?
    Now for Holder and his boss.
    I find it strange that a left wing/liberal does exactly the same thing as would a guy like Cheney. Where is the dividing line here? Where do we the voters get a distinction or opposition that allows us to vote/differentiate what it is that we as a people desire or wish to be policy.?
    We are TOTALLY disconnected from the policy process(even tho we vote). Obomba is George Bush in black face. What is the distinction that differentiates the parties? Where can i vote against secrecy and secret wars and all that garbage?What party espouses peace, or even logic?
    This is the question to me.

  8. The major difference, jim, is that the GOP has become the openly-batshit-crazy-back-to-the-Gilded-Age party of neofeudalism, oligarchy, guns, God, and keeping women from having sex unless they get pregnant.

    The Democrats at least have a smidgen of interest in how the non-two-yacht family makes a living in the 21st Century U.S. They are hopelessly corrupted with big money and infected with the Washington Rules, but at least they won't just turn the country over to the Fortune 500 corporations and go fishing.

    Which is not to say that there's a "good" choice. But there's a "worse" choice. This "scandal" is a good example of the difference; yes, Nixon DID use the IRS to harass his enemies.

    Obama's IRS sent the teatards questionairres. Nobody even got audited.

    Don't get me wrong; I fully intend to keep pushing on the D's to move Left; they're far from where they should be.

    But the R's? Unless you pine for the days when a business magnate could smirk "The public be damned" and get praised for it, they're hopeless.

  9. Jim, I agree with you. One of my big things with voting for Obama was closing down Gitmo. Years later... Nothing. Rolling back the Patriot act? Nothing. FUCKING around in Syria? Where the Hell did that come from? Where is that "liberal" voice?

    To give a shout out to FDC at least Obama got us out of Iraq and too slowly out of Afghan. Obama should show his cojones by closing down Gitmo. If he does this in conjunction, with getting us out of Iraq, Afghanistan That was is a successful presidency. At least the digging has stopped and we can get out of the pit.

  10. Welcome back Khans, I like your posts. FDC you are incandescent! I hope I have your fire and brimstone when I get to your age! But being a hippy at heart I would surely believe that you realize that all that is happening has been played repeatedly throughout the eons. Nothing is new and nothing is permanent. You are going to give yourself and ulcer.

    James, (and the above post as well).

  11. Chief -

    Can't agree on the AP thing. It should be a much bigger scandal - a huge one. But I suppose we are getting too used to losing our privacy and being under surveillance (both government and corporate) all the time. Big Brother is here. I shudder to think what will happen with that when the White House changes occupants.

  12. mike: I agree that it should be a scandal. But the scandal isn't what happened between DOJ/AP; it's that our law as currently written makes that legal.

    Anon: The persistence of GITMO is directly related to the Congressional GOP and their Blue Dog Democratic allies. This Administration wants to shut the damn thing down - they realize its worthless other than as an Al Qaeda talking point - but were directly refuted by Congress. Again, I hold no brief with this Administration; it's about as "liberal" as the Eisenhower Administration, a bunch of nice moderate Republicans, and you can surely hang enough chit on it. But not GITMO.

    James: Yeah, I was just talking to Jim about how frustrating it is to watch my nation and my Army slide back into the U.S. of 1895 and not be able to do jack shit about it other than fulminate. VERY frustrating.

  13. Anon 10;33
    IF Obomba is c in c then can he not give an order to the military to close down gitmo?
    This is his constitutional power which he WILL NOT exercise b/c he won't accept the resultant flak.
    But strangely he'll do popular crap like killing people in their bed rooms and while they are sitting in out door restaurants in yemen.
    O didn't end the war in iraq or afgh. The military just got tired of playing coin. In case you haven't noticed the DoD military arm controls the potus and not the other way around. O is a shill.
    In closing; gitmo is funded by congress who pulls the money strings, but gitmo could be closed with no expenditure of official cash. Didn't Reagan run the contra war on illegal cash ? Couldn't O borrow a few bags of cash from the weekly CIA bribery going to Karzai?
    What would be the cost of closing the place down? My math says the price of airplane tickets and a box lunch for a flight back to wherever the prisoners call home. Why not cancel a congressional junket and use that plane to shuttle the poor fools held in gitmo back to their homes?
    The entire pwot is a bundle of crap, lies and bait and switch.

  14. jim: Yes, I know it's Wikipedia, but here's a pretty decent summary of the GITMO deal:

    Bottom line; without somewhere to put these guys, and without a willingness to just let 'em go (which you and I both know would be political suicide) this Administration can't do anything other than keep going. I agree that Obama hasn't busted his ass to shut it down but the reality is that the GOP and the Blue Dogs won't agree.

    Saying that the guy is the national CINC is as meaningful on this issue as blaming him for not closing Ft. Totten. He could transfer out every single GI but the "base" would remain short of Congressional funding and authorization to close it and sell off the physical plant. In this case he can't even transfer the prisoners; Congress has explicitly prevented that. All he can do is turn 'em loose, and for all that that's a nice thing to say we both know that isn't gonna happen.

    And Iran-Contra is EXACTLY the place we don't want to go; that clusterfuck has a pedigree that ties it pretty neatly to the present Potempkin War on Terror.

    You get no argument out of me that the last decade plus has seen a serious degradation of the rule of law in this country. But GITMO, like these other ridiculous "scandals" is less a disease than a symptom. Until one of the major parties begins to give a shit about governing, and the other begins to reclaim its heritage of liberalism, we're headed straight down the rabbit hole back to 1895, and not just so pretty women can dress up like the Gibson Girl.

  15. Somewhere along the line here two very relevant statements were made by persons I can't remember:

    1. Government isn't what's bad. Bad governance is what's bad.

    2. The GOP has been trying to nullify the will of the people who elected Clinton and Obama president.

    The former speaks for itself, and the latter leads into the former significantly. In 2010, Mitch McConnell said the GOP's primary objective was to make Barack Obama a one term president. Not attending to the governance of the country, but determining the outcome of an election. Having failed at that, the backup position is to nullify, by any means, Obama's election to a second term.

    Now, since the GOP really has a pretty mediocre crop of candidates for 2016, no real governance objectives other than 6 years of obstructionism, and at least one pretty powerful Dem to face in 2016, creating "scandals", however bogus, is necessary to undermine any Dem candidate in 2016. With an bag of trick such as bogus scandals, voter suppression and the like, the Right hopes to win in 2016, not necessarily based on being the choice of the people, but by simply suppressing enough of the majority to gain the power they seek.

    I remember the private words of a shrewd politician, Hugh Parmer, when he made his first run for Mayor of Ft Worth: "I am in no way the favorite of the majority of the citizens of Ft Worth. The task at hand is to simply ensure that I get more of my supporters to the polls than my opponent." It worked for one term. In his second run for mayor, which resulted in a run off, he placed what he thought was a "brilliant" two page centerfold ad comparing his credentials (Ivy League, etc, etc, filling the left page) to his opponent's credentials (self made small business man, HS grad, etc, filling about 1/4 of the right page) asking the question, "Who do you want to answer the phone when the President of American Airlines calls to discuss a potential move of their HQ to Ft Worth?". The result was an amazing 20,000 increase in voters in the runoff, and the opponent won by some 20,000.

    Since the GOP only has maybe a quarter page of worthwhile accomplishments for their left page, they simply want to fill the right page with fabricated negatives. It ain't about the future of our country, but vote counts in 2016.

  16. well said Al. But more important than 2016 is the election in 2014. The Republicans know that. We should stop basing our hopes on a single person to govern the country. It takes that person plus a majority in the house and a super-majority in the senate.

  17. Thanks, Mike. I stand corrected. However, the fact remains that since 2008, the GOP in Congress, as well as in general, has shown no serious interest in legislating or governance, but rather electioneering.

    I stopped having hope a while back, and thus have nothing to base hope upon.

  18. Al -

    Gomenasai! I had no intention of correcting your comment which was well said and to the point. My only intent was to note that we Americans seem to be reverting to an era where we believe that a single knight in shining armor can save the country for us. A Washington, or Lincoln or even a Mussolini who can bring a fascist tempo to solving the country's problems. As opposed to rational elected government in all branches and at all levels. This does not bode well for our future I fear. Bad juju for us if we fail to vote in the off-presidential elections (and all the way to the bottom of the ticket).

  19. You might take note of the appalling level of political idiocy exposed in the latest special election here in Portland. It is difficult enough to maintain a liberal democracy in the best of times. But when something like 19% of your electorate will vote for a gibbering idiot?


  20. Mike, no offense taken. I don't ascribe to the "Knight in Shining Armor" notion in the slightest. I'm not sure the political gene pool is capable of such any more. People who are intellectually and morally capable of such have no interest in it. And, this person would only have the "power of persuasion" in our form of government.

    Further, our form of government not only does not offer the concept of a strong executive, but is readily subject to gridlock doe to our bicameral legislature and "super majority rules" in the Senate. Since there can readily be a situation, such as today, where there is no "ruling party", and the President is not an official "party leader" to boot, all that matters in the eyes of political hacks is future elections. Simply defer the business of governance until you might have it your own way.

    Thus, what I was getting at is that a senior Legislator stated that his first priority was not legislating, for which he is Constitutionally responsible, but using his elected office to influence the outcome of an election pertaining to another separate branch of the government. And, his "two year plan" of constipating the government to sway an election has now lengthened into a 6 year plan. Think about it - All we were assured of as a result of the 2012 election was four more years of constipation.

    The US Constitution creates a "all or nothing" situation. There is no structural binding force for the concept of a "coalition government". A refusal of political parties to cooperate does not cause the government to "collapse" and require new elections, as with parliamentary governments. It simply causes gridlock until the next scheduled election. Thus. since the next election is all that matters, governance is politically irrelevant.

  21. "Add to it Fast and Furious and the legal justification for the kill list and it looks like the AG has a completely psychotic group that thinks that they can do whatever the hell they want. "

    Remember that (a) every civil servant who did nasty stuff under the Bush administration (or before) is still there, and (b) every appointee in the Obama administration is aware that nobody really got into trouble for anything that their predecessors did.

  22. FDChief: " But, given the state of Libya, why the hell was that consulate even open? Why did State, DoD, and the CIA waste time pissing on each other and not shutter the damn thing and get the staff (and, fairly importantly, the intel guys that shouldn't have been in such an exposed position) back to Tripoli where they could be defended?"

    The amabassador was doing diplomacy in a f-ed up situation which needed on-the-ground, in-person work. That put his *ss in a weak position physicially, and somebody got him.

    In a sense it's like LP's and OP's being exposed when the commander critically needs to know what's about to hit the unit.