Posted by Rojas @ 11:31 pm on September 10th 2012

In a parallel universe not far from our own…

…thousands of Chicago teachers are protesting against the disrespect and union-busting tactics of Mayor Barack Obama while simultaneously preparing to go all-out to ensure the re-election of President Rahm Emmanuel.

Posted by Cameron @ 8:04 pm on September 10th 2012

The Art of Music Videos

Unlike Brad, I have no qualms about posting static videos on here which feature songs I like. If it sounds good, I’ll post it, damn it. That being said, music videos really can transcend the song itself and create true art. The following is one of those instances and I strongly suggest you choose HD and full screen while enjoying this music video. The song hooked me, the video made me a fan.

Of Monsters and Men – Little Talks

WeWereMonkeys : Of Monsters and Men – Little Talks from WeWereMonkeys on Vimeo.

Posted by Brad @ 9:31 pm on September 9th 2012

Music Video of the Week

Or, of the presidential election.

Sam Cooke is by far my favorite male vocalist of this period. Nina Simone is my favorite female. She isn’t at all the same kind of vocalist as a lot of her more heralded peers – she rarely belted, and never sounded virtuoso. But like Cooke, she just has an uncanny, preternatural ability to live in a song – to just slink her way through the words and lyrics and melody. It just melts me every time I listen to her.

I normally pass on posting static videos, even if I really want to feature a song as a MVOTW. But in this case, the lack of visuals actually helps.

Nina Simone – Tell Me More and Then Some

EDIT: Bah! User removed the video, so I have to use a late sub. This is why I don’t like to post static videos!

Posted by Brad @ 8:41 pm on September 7th 2012

Heroes

Had an interesting conversation with my wife the other day, who didn’t really know who a certain person was. I wound up describing him as one of my heroes, and she noted that you don’t hear that thrown around much anymore. There are, of course, a lot of people I greatly admire, but the sort of people that wind up actually moving me or inspiring me on a very personal level to where I’d append the hero label are few – I can think of three, although maybe more will come to me. It’s not really a list I’d consciously construct to reflect a certain way on me or my values/philosophy/whatever, nor is it a “favorite” list. It’s more personal than that, such that I almost feel kind of weird sharing it. But, it was an interesting conversation, so what the hell. Living people only, I think.

The three I came up with (in no particular order):

Pete Seeger
Ron Paul
Jose Bautista

Again, that’s not a list I’d come up with any other way, really – I wouldn’t describe Seeger as my favorite musician or humanitarian, for instance, nor would I say Bautista is the athlete I most admire, necessarily, and describing Ron Paul as one of my heroes, on this blog, makes me feel a little naked. But, for whatever reason, those three resonate with me in a way that just people I think are great do not.

That’s my list. Be interested who you guys would come up with for yourselves.

Posted by Brad @ 5:51 pm on September 7th 2012

You’re Doing it Wrong

Senior members of the Haqqani network said that the United States’ designation of the militant group as terrorists could endanger the life of an American soldier thought to be in their custody

What we have here is a failure of communication…

Posted by Brad @ 4:47 pm on September 7th 2012

Asking Democrats if Romney is Ready to Handle the Kill List

Here is how serious the Democrats are about addressing the fundamental civil liberties question of the last four years. Watch their reactions to even being asked the question. Again, this isn’t a fringe, marginal, unfair or conspiratorial question. Nor is it a hostile ambush video like we often see. A guy goes up to important Democrats and asks them a very straight forward: do you trust Mitt Romney with the power to decide which American citizens to assassinate? The way they deal with even being asked – a little like how Obama deals with being asked about marijuana legalization – is fascinating and telling.

This is how partisanship kills ideology and even core values, and all those people lining up following Bush’s presidency to ask the completely fair question “where were you on size-of-government questions when Bush was President” had better be prepared to ask the same thing next time a Republican is in the White House utilizing the tools President Obama has both continued, established, and normalized.

And, btw, Obama wasn’t asked this question (he should be), but here’s his answer as to whether Americans should trust HIM with that power. The short answer is “yes; details classified”. The long answer is “yes; details classified”. And both answers boil down to “hey, relax guy, we’re totally taking care of this and you should trust us because I can attest that we’re doing a very good job.”

Posted by Brad @ 11:40 pm on September 6th 2012

Tweet of the DNC

jeremy scahill ‏@jeremyscahill

“This is the president who killed not 1, but 3 US citizens in 2 weeks w drone strikes!”-Not anyone on the DNC stage ever

More cold water here

Posted by Cameron @ 10:59 pm on September 6th 2012

While Everyone is Around Tonight

One of my better recent musical discoveries:

Thao Nguyen (Thao with the Get Down Stay Down) – The Give

Posted by Brad @ 10:40 pm on September 6th 2012

Remember when we used to liveblog this stuff?

Also, when we had some justification for our URL and sitename?

Posted by Jack @ 10:16 pm on September 6th 2012

A Successful Convention Watch Party

Myself and about 18 true believers, including one state senator. I can barely stand to watch political speeches, but the social element helped distract me from the panderfest. The best result: A visiting Texan friend expressed his irritation that his Democratic vote will mean nothing in blood red texas. I confided the conflict I feel between wanting to vote third party but living in a very very iffy swing state and thus wanting a vote that counts against the GOP. So we have agreed to tactical vote: he will vote for the third party candidate of my choosing in TX, and I will vote Obama in FL. Win-win.

Posted by Cameron @ 11:46 pm on September 5th 2012

My Thoughts

I have always had a minor love of online political quizzes. My newest discovery is a fun little quiz called I Side With. It got me thinking a bit about where I am standing in this electoral season. The 2012 race has so far been an uninspiring one. Unlike 2008, I just haven’t been able to muster much interest. The GOP field of candidates has found me alternating between bouts of fear and indifference. Though it took far longer than it should have, the true religious nut jobs were shown the door and the indifference returned. The lackluster options served to sap whatever initial enthusiasm I had going into this race.

So now it’s Romney. As I mentioned in a comment recently, his selection of Paul Ryan as VP reignited an inkling of interest in voting for him. That inkling is dead. Romney continues to piss me off. I get a slimey vibe from the guy. His perpetual fluidity of ideology is troubling; I haven’t got a clue what sort of governing president he will be. He may be better than Obama fiscally but he’d be worse socially. He would likely be dreadful in civil liberties. He could be better than expected or a clusterfuck in every regard. In short, my lack of support comes down to the fact that I don’t trust him.

Obama got a reluctant nod from me in 2008. He will not get it again. I can stomach fiscal mismanagement and massive deficits. I can tolerate further government expansion into healthcare. I can handle inaction on entitlement reform. Though I like the DREAM Act, I cringe but can overlook the fact that his administration has deported the highest number of people ever in three years (1.1 million). I can even applaud slow motion actions toward free trade agreements. However, I cannot condone or support a president with as dreadful a record on civil liberties as Obama. That is my deal breaker. Hope for Obama as better than McCain in civil liberties was the driving force behind my support in 2008. Unfortunately, his embrace of the worst of Bush’s excesses has left me bitterly disappointed. He is not deserving of a second term.

Which leaves Gary Johnson. I support him virtually without reservation. His platform reads like my wish list. He ticks all the right boxes. He lacks the social conservative tinge of past LP candidates and is solid on just about everything. That little quiz I mentioned at the beginning…pegs me as siding with him 96% time. And yeah, that’s good enough to get my vote in November.

Posted by Brad @ 4:08 pm on September 4th 2012

John Dennis on Racism

Okay, now it feels like I’m just trolling Jack.

In any event, John Dennis is a Ron Paul Republican who just happens to be Nancy Pelosi’s challenger for the San Fransisco congressional seat. He’s young, articulate, his campaign is smart and takes advantage of social media, he has no problem reaching out to Democrats or Libertarians. He is also avidly anti-war, anti-war on drugs (and explicitly pro marijuana legalization), is in favor of a gold standard, anti torture and police statism, and as you might expect an extreme deficit hawk. And he cites Ron Paul as his inspiration for getting into politics (and the Paul campaign is clearly behind him and, if my inclusion on Dennis’ mailings is any indication, even gave their contact lists to him). Did I mention he’s the Republican Party candidate against Nancy Pelosi?

All of this is interesting in its own right, when we talk about Ron Paul’s legacy. Also interesting, Dennis, for whatever reason, added “Racism” to his issues page and made a video about it. Of course, it’s the exact same explicit message Ron himself has been saying for many years – every time he’s asked about it – although avoiding the Rand Paul pitfall.

The part that I would anticipate the anti Ron Paul left-libertarians to take issue with is the “…it was institutionalized by governments,” but of course that’s sort of definitionally true.

Posted by Brad @ 12:05 am on September 3rd 2012

U.S. Suspends Training of Afghan Local Police, Because They Keep Shooting Us

They are going to instead undergo an intensive vetting procedures, including re-vetting existing officers.

A few quick and dirty thoughts:

1. This is pretty central to our whole exit strategy thing, such as it is.

2. It is entirely unclear to me that vetting will do much. I don’t claim to know all the details, but it is not my understanding that most of the ALP guys who have turned their guns back on their trainers have some kind of traceable ties to extremist groups – or rather, have any more traceable ties to extremist groups than just about anybody else in Afghanistan. That’s part of what’s been so alarming about the “green on blue” attacks – by and large, these haven’t been double-secret Al Queda operatives or trained Taliban double agents. Mostly, they’ve been exactly what vetting has found of them – unaffiliated young Afghans who just decide, one day, “fuck these guys”.

3. Finally, I’m not sure I can quite articulate it, and it may be a bridge too far besides, but my gut reaction to this whole phenomenon is that, in a way, we’re seeing the convergence of a lot of different things – the concepts of blowback, the deification of the U.S. military, obviously the whole notion of nation-building, and more.

More specifically, my admittedly nebulous thinking on it is this. We have collectively decided in American exceptionalism, and as applied to our endeavors abroad the notion that we have the right and even duty to nation-build, because we have these concepts and foundations that are what’s best for humankind, and it’s thus incumbent on us to disseminate them and to free the peoples of the world from their oppression/ignorance. We have, likewise, decided – obviously very reasonably, that the highest priority is to protect the lives of U.S. service members, which means finding more means, both technological and systemic, of getting them out of the line of fire. This entails intelligence/detention – actively “vetting” populations in which we’ll be operating in the form of collecting information in a variety of ways, from building relationships with locals to paying people to rat out their neighbors to just straight up profiling, and then acting on that information, which has a huge variability in terms of reliability, in such a way as to minimize the threats against us – such as taking suspected terrorists, however and by whom that is defined, off the battlefield by knocking on doors, rounding up suspects, and dropping them into our detention system, where they are then, in various ways, leaned on for information to help further collect intelligence on who out there may want to kill us. It also entails technology – if we have a tip that somebody we’ve identified as a threat is at Location X, there is no longer a need to send a small team in and risk casualty – we can just drone bomb that shit. Of course, that’s less than clinically precise, or with the capacity for on-the-ground flexibility or information gathering, so we wind up often acting on bad intelligence and murdering innocents (or at the very least people perceived as innocent by locals/family/non-American-news consumers). Or we wind up acting on good intelligence but not only get the militant but also the people around him – his six year old son, a wedding party, whatever.

We do both of those things for a very noble reason – to protect the lives of American soldiers and minimize their exposure to the battlefield.

And then those soldiers get shot off the battlefield by the people they’ve been sent there to help, who were not necessarily but now are radicalized by the perceptions created by our practices and technology. Thus, and again this may be a bridge too far, but the very things we develop to try to protect the lives of our soldiers in symmetrical warfare winds up increasing their exposure to the asymmetrical variety, which also increases the exposure of the rest of us (you are more likely to die by a militarized terrorist than at the hands of a member of a hostile army or organized battlefield enemy (it seems very unlikely the Taliban will invade)).

That’s not too radical a thought, I don’t think – it is the very definition of blowback – but I think there’s a very clear application, and while this may seem a bunch of isolated events I think it’s actually a fairly direct line. As I said, that’s what’s been rattling around in my brain anyway in relation to this story.

Posted by Brad @ 9:22 pm on September 1st 2012

What’s Off the Table for Romney/Ryan Budget Cutting

Just in case there was any doubt, Romney and Ryan make it crystal clear – in regards to budget or size of government, anything military or national security is untouchable and 100% off the table.

“Now thereís only one place — thereís only one place this presidentís willing to cut, and not just a little. He wants to cut a trillion dollars out of our military budget,” Romney told the crowd to boos. “Look, thatís bad for jobs and itís bad for our national security. The world is not a safer place right now, not with Iran trying to become nuclear, dangers throughout the world. If Iím president and Paul Ryanís vice president we will not cut our military budget.”

Incidentally, that’s giving Obama bit too much credit – the cuts he’s talking about where the ones written into the debt ceiling debate precisely because they’d be so unpalatable as to force Congress to act rather than let the spending cuts kick in.

But, regardless, nice to have that explicitly laid out from Romney/Ryan. I have a feeling before we’re through, between military, old people stuff, no tax increases, and every popular program that might mean constituent votes, those hack-and-slash ideological lunatics who are going to regress us to a pre-New Deal economy will be down to essentially the McCain position – that is that they will totally cut a shit-ton of the government’s budget – like this bear fertility program in rural Tennessee they heard about somewhere. That can totally go!

Posted by Brad @ 6:00 pm on September 1st 2012

U.S. Government Unable to Pursue Homicide Charges Against U.S. Government

And the DOJ clears the CIA in the torture and murder of detainees in their care.

But the decision to abandon any possible criminal charges relating to detainee abuse wasn’t a “not guilty” verdict. Rather, it was based on this mobius strip of immunity:

US Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Thursday that no charges will be filed in the cases of two terror suspects who died in CIA custody Ė one in Iraq in 2003 and another in Afghanistan in 2002. “The admissible evidence would not be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt,” Holder said.

Got that?

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