Friday, June 28, 2013

So It Is True!

"I'm not going to be scrambling jets..."

President Barack Obama June 27, 2013

When asked about what the U.S. intended to do about Edward Snowden, the President began his reply with the above words.

It has been speculated that one of the reasons that Edward Snowden didn't fly to Havana aboard Aeroflot was the danger that the aircraft would be intercepted by U.S. fighters and forced down on U.S. soil. Snowden would then be removed and arrested and the plane allowed to fly on. From the above statement alone we can infer that this "solution" was discussed at the very highest levels of our government.

Query: just what does Snowden have that NSA, CIA, and the other alphabet security agences are so terrified of? Let there be no mistake: absolutely terrified is the the right word.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Irony Level Low: Texas

On April 17, 2013, an ammonium nitrate storage site at the West Fertilizer Company in West, Texas, exploded, causing the death of 15 people, injury to 160 others, and the destruction of more than 150 buildings.
The plant operated with little or no federal or state oversight.
Although the plant did have 1 million dollars of insurance, it is not nearly enough to cover the damages. Texas law allows fertilizer plants to operate without any liability insurance even when they store highly explosive chemicals.
At the time of the explosion Texas Governor Rick Perry was in Illinois touting his state's lack of oversight, claiming that this "red tape" impedes profit and expansion. Industry: move to Texas and avoid supervision.
After the explosion, however, Texas asked the federal government to cover, 100%, the costs to the community for damages and emergency response. FEMA declined to pay 100% of this disaster relief for West, Texas, having determined that the state and local governments have sufficient resources, 17 million dollars, to pay for uninsured public infrastructure damages. FEMA had already paid the Texas 51 million for debris removal and emergency services.
Governor Rick Perry was outraged. FEMA should have paid it all.
Let me get this straight. The state of Texas arrogantly claims that state and federal supervision, even of dangerous chemicals, impedes the free flow of commerce and constitutes a burden upon free enterprise. Profit and initiative rule. But after a major accident such as the West Fertilizer Company explosion we, the taxpayers of the rest of the country, are expected to bail out the state, which glories in its faux free enterprise ideology. Also the state of Texas leads the nation in the number and amount of incentives that it gives businesses. From this I infer that what the taxpayers of Texas don't pick up, the taxpayers in other states are liable.  
Say what?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Pour decourager les autres

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath and affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.

That seems clear enough, doesn't it?

Edward Snowden did the nation a service by exposing the clear violation of American rights. The government has no right to listen to my phone calls, to find out who I called, or when I called. There is no "probable cause" to seize this information. And who has sworn an oath or affirmed that this information was needed in a warrant? We are not given those names.

But then why the fury and ever increasing anger of government officials as Snowden eludes them? First, of course, the NSA and the other spooks have nearly become unmanned by Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden -their secrets, so assiduously kept from the American people, have been partially, I emphasize partially, exposed. And so our government must punish these miscreants, these "whistleblowers", lest they provide a model. Manning and Snowden must be punished "pour décourager les autres," to paraphrase Voltaire. And yet, the intensity of the chase gives rise to another suspicion: that Snowden may have evidence of even more egregiously illegal government snooping - after all, if NSA can intercept simple telephone information, it can certainly intercept the calls themselves. Those giant computers (they may be located in Fort Huachuca, Arizona) capable of millions of calculations per second can certainly "listen" to a phone call and determine, by voice print, who called and who was called. It is but a short step to recording the calls themselves. Then too, he may have evidence that the government has used the U.S. Census or other privileged information for its own purposes, whatever they may be.

Monday, June 24, 2013

George again

June 24, 2013

George Again

Sigh. George F. Will is at it again. His bromides against Obama, that, that, black man in the White House, (emphasis on WHITE), have become frissons of rage and frustration. I'm surprised that George and his ilk even recognize Obama as a human being, let alone a political leader. But, as has always been true, George forgets or distorts recent history,

From his June 23, 2013 article, "Obama Hits a Wall in Berlin."

"Napoleon said: "If you start to take Vienna - take Vienna." Douglas MacArthur said that all military disasters can be explained by two words: "Too late."¹

Well, George, with your true and tested military acumen...ah, you DID support the Iraq war, did you not...and with the above strictures in mind, how do you rate the political and military leadership of our Doofus-in-Chief, George W., in reference to the aforementioned Iraq war? How does "take Vienna" or "too late" fit in when discussing the horrible mistakes of that war? What was the result of that conflict? Billions spent, thousands of American soldiers dead, a fractured country, immense debt, and for what?
Our Prussian Feldherr from upstate Illinois prefers not to answer this question.

That finished, G.F. commented on Obama's speech in Berlin:

""As I've [President Barack Obama, ed.] said, Angela and I don't exactly look like previous German and American leaders." He has indeed said that too, before, at least about himself. It was mildly amusing in Berlin in 2008, but hardly a Noel Coward-like witticism worth recycling."

Even a Obama's mild jokes are redundant, low-quality, and silly. Compared to Noel Coward I suppose that Obama and his speechwriters aren't that witty or amusing, but then...has George looked at questions and remarks of Generalissimo Flubya - they weren't exactly Noel Coward-like, in fact, they sometimes didn't even make sense.
What a Beltway world George lives in!

¹ Did General Douglas MacArthur, darling of the Right, say this before, during, or after the November/December 1951 disaster in North Korea?