03/31/2015 C.H.'s immediate response:
"Amen to your commentary today John. Who in their right (or left) mind would even consider the NSA as an employer....maybe the German Air pilot."
03/31/2015 NSA gates:
It might be successfully argued that anyone who has ever headed toward an NSA gate has made an enormous mistake
03/31/2015 NSA recruitment:
The mere fact that Edward Snowden's leaks alerted worldwide academics to moral issues surrounding routine NSA activities completely vindicates his actions, although the intellectual stimulation is not limited to academia. Auspiciously NSA spokespersons imply that that current NSA recruitment problems stem from a new global awareness of NSA's unpalatable activites. Nowadays it seems bright young college people make better moral choices. Apparently one young lady opted for interesting work irrespective of moral considerations: "'I absolutely love what I'm doing now [at NSA],' she says. Which is classified, so she won't say anything more about it—except that it's the kind of stuff she can't work on anywhere else". Possibly because it would be illegal anywhere else.
03/29/2015 NSA is not Stasi:
Going back to January 14th here's a thoughtful work by Andrew Curry which appeared in Wired Magazine's 23.01 issue. Essentially it explains how the now defunct Stasi and the very active US NSA differ, and why NSA surveillance MUST be curtailed. Key paragraphs include the fact that contemporary America harbors a "Congress reluctant to push for oversight". Congress typically follows money not principle. Whatever your position on NSA spying, read this carefully and be informed, then tell your members of Congress where you stand—it can't hurt, especially if you support this bill.1
1bad link removed 08/28/2017
Certainly the US needs more like Senator Elizabeth Warren in Congress. As Huffington Post has reported, "Warren, a former Harvard Law professor who joined the Senate Banking Committee after taking office in 2013, has accused big banks and other financial firms of unfair dealings that harm the middle class and help the rich grow richer...In January, Warren angered Wall Street when she successfully blocked the nomination of a banker Antonio Weiss to a top post at the Treasury Department. She argued that as a regulator he would likely be too deferential to his former Wall Street colleagues". Now the big-banks seem to be spinning that her anti-corruption stance is actually anti-buxiness—yet perhaps more precisely anti business-as-usual. The fact that big banks are considering "withholding campaign donations to Senate Democrats in symbolic protest" is a huge indication that Warren is on the right track—as well as implicitly revealing why congessional legislation is sometimes considered just another protection racket by jaded observers.
03/24/2015 addressing real concerns:
Today's introduction of H.R. 1466 as reported by RT.COM definitely is a step in the right direction toward toning down the hysterical US security state and encouraging a bit of reason inside "intelligence" circles1 ,.
1noted 09/25/2017: ThinkProgress.Org bad link removed.
03/24/2015 Netanyahu's box canyon:
As quoted by POTUS, Mr. Netanyahu has said "that a Palestinian state would not occur while he was prime minister". In the process of back-peddling he has said that he wanted a two-state solution, but "circumstances have to change". Deductive reasoning can only conclude that Netanyahu himself believes that nothing can change while he is prime minister—what most of the rest of the world believes as well—tragic but true.
03/22/2015 more about budgets:
TEXT & LINK REMOVED 4/20/2016.
Since WWII America has consistently spent over half her annual discretionary revenue on her military and consequently has
managed to maintain what Chomsky calls "a near monopoly on the preferred means of large-scale violence". Even today her military is
essentially unchallenged. Why Republicans are ever-insistent about ever-increasing that larder can only be explained as supporting
vested interests and has little or nothing to do with "defense". In fact what DoD truly "defends" is its congressional appropriations.
Not only does the GOP plan to increase military allocations in these financially difficult times, it wants, according to Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont1, "...to cut programs for some of the most vulnerable people in this country - the elderly, children, sick low-income people...At the same time they want to give significant tax breaks to the wealthy and the large corporations."
European taxes are high but Europeans enjoy a higher quality of life and typically have enviable health care for everyone, better education, reasonable elderly pensions, and far fewer homeless waifs. This is in large part because they do not spend over half their discretionary revenue bombing the less-fortunate into oblivion with enraging foreign policies.
Nonetheless the GOP has expended significant 2015 resources trying to undermine the Executive's foreign policy leadership and torpedo US diplomatic efforts while preventing reasonable long-term solutions and encouraging conflict. It's a shame Rand Paul is still tied to them.
03/18/2015 conflict and isolation?:
It appears that Israelis have chosen poorly and are perhaps in store for greater conflict and isolation as summarized by AP1. In any case wealthy western warmongering money invariably is found by those who like to scratch contemporary political surfaces—as did Bill Moyers.
1bad Yahoo News link replaced 2/11/2017. broken Salon link removed 6/5/2017
03/17/2015 dead heat?:
No one can summarize Israel's election better than Netanyahu's challenger Herzog has done: "Whoever wants to follow Bibi's [Netanyahu's] path of despair and disappointment will vote for him...But whoever wants change, hope, and really a better future for Israel, will vote the Zionist Camp led by me." Two of 3 Israeli news polls show 27 seats for both parties. One of the 3 shows the Zionist camp leading with 28 seats. Tomorrow morning the official results will be in. Either way one can hope that President Rueven Rivlin will select Herzog first to piece together a new government alliance—thankfully Herzog's approach appears to be the wave of the future.
03/16/2015 changing times - Hezbollah, Netanyahu:
Nowadays you can't tell the players without a program. Congress, Netanyahu, and the hysterical intelligence communities among others seem to be living in an evanescent past. Hopefully Netanyahu will get his warmongering ass booted in tomorrow's election. That won't solve much nevertheless is a step in the right direction.
03/15/2015 Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA):
The CISA bill is back and last Thursday cleared the Senate Intelligence Committee with only a single dissenting vote, that of Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon. As written the bill grants immunity to private companies sharing customers' information with government and exempts government intelligence worker information from Freedom of Information requests. In other words, it precludes redress in the event of official wrongdoing in sharing citizens' personal information—despite heretofore horrendously inadequate oversight of intelligence activities. It appears that the bill permits government officials and large corporations to do as they please with impunity with everyone's personal data while eliminating all avenues of restitution when things go awry—so much for the land of the free and the home of the brave. This bill is not likely to be defeated in today's senate.
03/11/2015 grading government:
If the US recovery were real one might expect better marks across the board,
not these marks***.
An astonishing lack of faith in all three branches of government needs no explanation to thinking Americans.
Unwarranted faith in the executive's military is unexplained so one can only surmise that it is the pithy flag-waving type of faith elicited
from a bamboozled citizenry through enormous advertising, PR, and psyops budgets.
Of course many of the nation's contemporary problems arguably can be attributed to highly-trained retired flag officers heading-up various agencies
whose continuing actions are a detriment to civil liberties, constitutional protections, and common decency.
Highly-educated leadership is most desirable and military training is a far cry from education..
***broken Washington Post link replaced 04/09/2015, broken Yahoo News link replaced 02/11/2017
03/10/2015 Chomsky on Snowden:
Don't miss Noam Chomsky on Edward Snowden as interviewed by Amy Goodman at Democracy Now. It's been on the video page for a week but we failed to notify those who need to know—forgetfulness is life in an older lane. This is a belated birthday gift to my first cousin attorney. This excerpt is not too long so hear it all.
03/08/2015 scholars oppose S. 2265:
Here's Noam Chomsky's assessment of Netanyahu's congressional address and the Israeli goal of regional dominance.
03/06/2015 Senator Rand Paul on Israel (updated 03/07/2015):
Senator Rand Paul on Israel posted 03/06. The following added 03/07/2015: It appears that there is no overriding need for this legislation and that it potentially hampers future US choices irrespective of how events might unfold. There is only slim if any likelihood that the Palestinian Authority can ever warmly recognize "Israel's right to exist" at its present location since 1948. Thwarting economic prosperity in order to force Palestinians to "play ball" is likely to work about as well as it has up to now and about as well as it has in Cuba for the past 50 or so years. Diplomacy and negotiation are the viable solutions going forward. I would urge Florida's US senators to oppose Senator Paul's bill (S 2265) and I would urge Israelis to "clean house" in this month's election.
03/05/2015 congressional motivations:
Congress has maintained 15% or less approval ratings for a long time as constituents become incrementally aware that typical congressional motivations are money rather than principle. Otherwise one might have expected more members of Congress to oppose Netanyahu's ongoing attempts to derail negotiations with Iran. Bibi addressed Congress as planned and received a warm warmongers' reception especially from the majority of Republicans. Here is the best explanation to date as to why so many US congressmen fawn over Israel and its belligerent desires: from Bill Moyers.
03/03/2015 fear-mongering warmongers:
It seems that what sets POTUS apart from the typical legislator is a genuine interest in peace irrespective of warmongers' desires. Of course diplomacy and negotiation are the reasonable ways forward in Iran. Netanyahu has had his say. Hopefully he will go home and lose his reelection. The world needs fewer, not more, tunnel visioned leaders. From the NYT: "Congress must not forget that its responsibility is to make choices that advance American security interests, and that would include a strict and achievable agreement with Iran."
03/01/2015 FISC and constitutional protections:
In 2014 the top two US DoD spooks lied to the world with bogus claims of effectiveness in order to protect questionable surveillance methodologies and their associated revenue streams. Mass surveillance has proved ineffective in thwarting terrorism. Nonetheless no legislative, executive, or judicial actions have substantially curtailed the secret US government surveillance activities twice-adjudicated unconstitutional. Last week those same tools of power were blessed once again by FISC. Unfortunately there appears to be little or no congressional interest in restoring lost constitutional protections to American citizens. Nowadays only whistleblowers advocate traditionally definitive American values.
Failing federal action, according to US News and World Report, eight states currently are considering NSA-curtailment legislation prohibiting "...state and local governments from offering material support to the agency, including use of public utilities that carry water and electricity. Two of the bills would criminalize official cooperation with the NSA...". These are marvelous steps in the right direction which eventually could help restore some lasting American pride and self-respect.