Saturday Catchup 2010-07-31

One Good Turner Deserves Another

Still right after all these years: "The war in Afghanistan is nearly nine years old—the longest in American history. After the U.S. quickly toppled the Taliban regime in October 2001, the Taliban, by all accounts, came back stronger and harsher enough to control now at least 30 percent of the country. During this time, U.S. casualties, armaments and expenditures are at record levels. America’s overseas wars have different outcomes when they have no constitutional authority, no war tax, no draft, no regular on the ground press coverage, no Congressional oversight, no spending accountability and, importantly, no affirmative consent of the governed who are, apart from the military families, hardly noticing." -- Out of Afghanistan by Ralph Nader (Common Dreams 2010-07-31).

Follow the money (if you can): "On July 27, 2010 the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) released an audit of the Department of Defense’s (DOD) management of the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI), which was used as a source of money for rebuilding Iraq. The Inspector General found that the DOD used the Fund in an ad hoc manner, never followed the guidelines set up for U.S. agencies involved in reconstruction, which means it can’t account for almost all of its spending, and is probably still using the Fund today even though it has no authority to do so anymore." -- Department Of Defense Didn’t Follow Accounting Rules During Iraq Reconstruction by Joel Wing (Musings on Iraq 2010-07-29). See, also: Audit: US can't account for $8.7B in Iraqi funds by Tarek El-Tablawy and Sinan Salaheddin (AP 2010-07-27).

Wikioverdose: "I know. What's a thousand documents amongst friends? Well, there's your problem. We don't have any friends. Corruption over there is endemic, pandemic and epidemic. Our allies aren't necessarily allied on our side. The fighting is going badly and a halfway decent deep-dish pizza crust remains a concept the Afghanis seem unable or unwilling to embrace. Not to mention Democracy. Unplug the drain and the ring around the tub is we've been there 8 years and things are so not getting better. As a matter of fact you could say the movement more resembles whatever is the opposite of getting better. Don't even mention quagmire. Hah. Hah. We sneer at your quagmire. Our Afghanistan participation makes a quagmire look like a refreshing dip in a spring fed pool with buckets of frosty beer within reach and cold cucumbers slices on our eyelids. Spa spangled bog." -- Spa Spangled Bog by Will Durst (Huffington Post 2010-08-01). A few more tentative thoughts on the Afghanistan wikileaks to hold us until someone does the hard work of sorting through all this raw data: Are the WikiLeaks War Docs Overhyped Old News? by Spencer Ackerman (Danger Room 2010-07-26). And Andy Borowitz: "Russia Disbands Spy Agency; Will Use WikiLeaks Instead."

Always good to know what the next president is thinking: "The tradition that general officers should provide disinterested advice to policymakers based on their best judgments and the most current available intelligence has long since passed. Modern generals first test the wind before they offer an opinion and then carefully tailor their comments to support the prevailing policy. Petraeus, who is regarded as an intellectual and even somewhat of an iconoclast, is no different. His counterinsurgency strategy, far from a new development, is a replay of similar thinking during the Vietnam war and a repudiation of the Powell Doctrine, which asserted that wars should be in the national interest, with attainable objectives, fought using overwhelming force, and incorporating a clear exit strategy. In short, Petraeus is the architect of the counterinsurgency long war combined with nation building strategy that has been embraced by both Presidents Bush and Obama." -- Who Owns General Petraeus? by Philip Giraldi ( 2010-07-29).

This Week's Sermon: "When the First Congress subsequently wrote the Bill of Rights in 1789, one of the main objectives was to confirm that the new republic was anchored first and foremost in religious freedom. It is no wonder, then, that the very first freedom listed in the Bill of Rights is freedom of religion. And religious freedom was given pride of place for a reason: to signal clearly to Americans that gone were the days of living under the thumb of an oppressive regime that dictated religious thought." -- No, America Is NOT a Christian Nation by Richard Albert (Alternet 2010-07-31).

Harlem Nocturne: "The end of an era has been declared repeatedly ever since the death, in December, of Harlem political patriarch Percy Sutton and the political demise of Governor Paterson this winter. Yet the more accurate, and complex, tale is an unfinished one. It starts in 1944, when a brilliant, singular personality, Adam Clayton Powell Jr., became the first person elected to represent a congressional district created to empower central Harlem. By 1970, Powell was sick with cancer and brooding on a Caribbean island, and was knocked off by Charlie Rangel, who has become the consummate Washington insider, steering tens of millions of dollars to the district and making Harlem a force in city elections. Now, though, in an echo of the financial and legal messes that brought down Powell, an ethics investigation has forced Rangel to give up his chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee; last week, a congressional panel accused him of multiple ethics violations. Racial politics in New York and nationally have shifted to the point where the machine model that served Rangel so well has grown creaky. No one knows what the new order will look like, but the struggle to define it is under way in the cradle of black politics. The battle isn’t simply to follow Rangel in Congress—the district’s next congressman could as easily be white or Latino as black—but to determine what style of politics will control Harlem in the future: a revitalized, updated clubhouse, a reform movement in the Obama mold, or perhaps something in nobody’s mold, like the freewheeling pioneer who’s the father of Harlem politics." Knocking on Harlem's Door by Chris Smith (New York Magazine 2010-07-24).

It's all Bush's fault: "...we seem to have forgotten how much of a wretched impact [George W. Bush's] years in the Oval Office had and continue to have on this nation and the world. Part of the reason we've managed to forget, of course, is that he's been gone for almost two years now. Under normal circumstances, that tends to put the onus on the current president; Obama has been holding the reins with a Democratically-controlled congress on Capitol Hill for eighteen months, and therefore all eyes tend to fall on him. The problem is that no president in American history has done more damage and screwed us worse than George W. Bush did. In the nearly 3,000 days he spent in office, Bush cut the country to ribbons in ways that have never been seen before, and the impact of that era lingers to this day. The main reason for our forgetfulness, however, can be found on your television and in the pages of your newspaper. The media has completely redacted the impact of the Bush era from their coverage of the Obama administration, a continuing act of deception that I believe is completely deliberate. The entire Bush administration is a lesson in media cowardice and complicity; they rolled over for him for virtually every one of those 3,000 days, and would now like to have us all forget it happened. If as Bush falls in the forest and the media doesn't cover it, did it happen? Certainly, but when the daily grind of the 24-hour news cycle omits the idiot elephant that remains in the room, the narrative of the present becomes skewed and distorted." -- The Missing Piece Meets the Big O by William Rivers Pitt (truthout 2010-07-31).

On the other hand: "I have often said the biggest problem with the Democrats is that we are not tough enough. Now is the time to be tough." -- No More Apologies -- It's Time to Stand Up for Our Convictions by Howard Dean (Huffington Post 2010-07-26).

This week in Crazy: Glenn "Beck has done all he can to scare the hell out of people about the Tides Foundation and 'turn the light of day' onto an organization that actually facilitates non-profit giving. And guess what? Everybody in America would have found out about the Tides Foundation last week if Byron Williams had had his way. He's the right-wing, government-hating, gun-toting nut who strapped on his body armor, stocked a pickup truck with guns and ammo, and set off up the California coast to San Francisco in order to start killing employees at the previously obscure Tides Foundation in hopes of sparking a political revolution. Thankfully, the planned domestic terrorist attack never came to pass because California Highway Patrol officers pulled Williams over for drunk driving on his way to his killing spree. Williams quickly opened fire, wounding two officers during a lengthy shootout. Luckily, Williams wasn't able to act out the ultimate goal of his dark anger -- fueled by the TV news he watched -- about how 'Congress was railroading through all these left-wing agenda items,' as his mother put it. Williams wasn't able to open fire inside the offices of the Tides Foundation, an organization 'nobody knew' about until Glenn Beck started targeting it." -- Beck's incendiary angst is dangerously close to having a body count by Eric Boehlert (Media Matters 2010-07-27).

Backlist: "I am told by people I respect that Barack Obama cannot pull out of both Iraq and Afghanistan without becoming a one-term president. I think that may be true. The charges from various quarters would be toxic—that he was weak, unpatriotic, sacrificing the sacrifices that have been made, betraying our dead, throwing away all former investments in lives and treasure. All that would indeed be brought against him, and he could have little defense in the quarters where such charges would originate." -- A One-Term President?: The Choice by Garry Wills (New York Review of Books 2009-12-03). Nearly a year later, the question remains: shouldn't your willingness to kill people in order to be president automatically disqualify you from holding the office?

It appears that there are no videos of Titus Turner. What a loss.

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