Category Archives: homeland security

The Sam Seder Tim Black debate, or the Sam talks over Tim while Michael Brooks makes snarky commentary.

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By Joseph Ballin 6/29/2017 5:37 PM EST

Reader’s note: I am a fan of both Sam Seder’s The Majority Report and The Tim Black Show. I do not hold any hostilities towards either person debating in this piece and am writing this to illustrate how we on the left can find better solutions to our problems. That being said I’m biased toward Tim in this debate.

What’s the difference between a liberal and a progressive? Personally I don’t care or like these labels. Hillary described herself as a “progressive who can get stuff done.” So I couldn’t care less about those labels, but Tim goes into what I think he meant is between neoliberal corporate shills and people who want change in this country. Yes Sam is correct that the Majority Report does talk about all of the issues that Tim Black listed. So Sam goes to Tim’s youtube page and criticizes him for not covering healthcare enough. However, Sam has not watched Tim’s show and doesn’t know that he’s covered healthcare numerous times on his show. And now Sam goes into the Seth Rich / Kimdotcom territory.

The one thing me and Jimmy Dore have both been very clear on, we want evidence. We want evidence of Russiagate, evidence Assad gassed his own people, evidence for or against the Seth Rich cover up, etc. That’s reality based thinking. That’s why I’m an agnostic atheist, because I can’t prove there isn’t a god/gods, but there is no evidence that they do exist so there is no reason for me to believe in them. In fact, nothing in the universe can be proven. A fact is a statement that is taken to be true based off of evidence. It is something we collectively as a society agree what is real and fake. A theory is a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena.

Ok now that we got that out of the way let’s deconstruct all this shit. There is no verifiable evidence Russia hacked, interfered, or colluded with Donald Trump or his campaign. In fact, as president, US relations with Russia under Trump are at a record low. Trump has repeatedly attacked the government of Bashar Al-Assad and Iranian militias several times, Russia’s allies. Trump signed a treaty expanding NATO to Montenegro, something Russia opposes. He signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017, which authorized $100 million dollars for the “Countering Russian Influence Fund”, to counter “Russian influence and aggression” and to “support civil society organizations in Europe and Eurasia.” It also included a measure imposing new restrictions and oversight on Russian diplomats in the United State. The Act also includes provisions that no appropriated funds may be used to support the Russian annexation of Crimea and assist Crimea, if such assistance includes the participation of Russian Government officials, or other Russian owned or controlled financial entities. It also states that no funds may be used to support “the Russian occupation of the Georgian territories of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia” or to assist the central governments of other countries that have recognized the two territories’ independence. On top of all that, US has imposes more sanctions on Russia during Trump’ presidency. If Trump’s a Russian puppet, he’s doing a really shitty at it.

Again this is not to say there isn’t business ties Trump has to Russia, like with Deutsche bank and Trump hotels because he’s a billionaire, but he also has business ties to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, Philippines, Azerbaijan, mafia, etc., but the mainstream media never mentions this. Why does mainstream media never bring up the fact General Flynn was a paid agent of the Turkish government? Why does the mainstream media not bring up the fact Trump appointed all these Goldman Sachs people because of his ties to Israel? Or China provisionally granting Trump 38 trademarks after getting elected? Or the Clinton’s business dealings in Russia? So there is enormous hypocrisy on this issue. Focus on Russia and nothing else. Why you may ask? Because starting a new cold war with Russia ensures defense contractors can make giant profit because now we have a great power enemy again. Also we can’t start a cold war with China because our economies are to tied together. It has less to do with Trump himself and more to do with more spending on the military and strengthening the police state. That’s why you don’t hear anything about getting rid of voting machines or having open, fair, and free elections.

As for the Syria gassing of 2017, the entire thing was brought up so briefly and forgotten about so quick by mainstream media and the Trump administration it really makes you wonder what really did happen in Syria. Why has there been no independent UN investigation into the gassing? There is no evidence Assad ordered the gassing of any civilians. As for the Seth Rich story, I stated on day one when I first heard about the Seth Rich murder that I found it very fishy. I have no idea is Seth Rich was the Wikileaks leaker or who killed him, but I do know a couple things. I do know Assange has hinted, but not confirmed, to Seth Rich being the leaker. Wikileaks, outside of the Garani Massacre Video which they said they would publish, but never did, has been 100% on point. So now that we got all that out of the way, back to the debate.

So Sam now brings up whether or not it’s a good thing to promote the Russia fear mongering story to split off three Republican votes in the Senate for healthcare. First of all I won’t advocate a new cold war with Russia over healthcare. Second of all why does Sam think Russia influences how Republican senators vote on healthcare. We’ve already seen the Senate healthcare bill be delayed because of how awful it is. People aren’t thinking about Russia when they think of healthcare, they are thinking of NOT DYING! Plus I would wager all that corporate cash the Republicans senators take is more of an influence than the so called Russia scandal over Trump’s head. The only thing that will force Republicans to change their votes on healthcare is though mass movements.

Now Black brings up the rigged 2016 Democratic primary and the DNC fraud lawsuit. Tim brings up exit polling being used by the US to determine whether an election is legit or bs in foreign countries. I would like to point out that irregularities in exit polling in Ukraine were cited by the US and EU for the fascist coup in Ukraine. And I would also like to point out Sam Seder has had on Greg Palast on Ring of Fire, someone who says the 2016 Democratic primary was rigged. But ok Sam I guess the primary wasn’t “rigged.”

Continuing on Tim brings why Democrats blaming progressives for the lose of Hillary Clinton. So Tim brings up Susan Sarandon and her revolution comment about Trump, stating we are seeing a revolution already taking place under Trump. Ok so I agree and disagree with Tim here. A revolution against Donald Trump hasn’t sustained itself, yet. It needs to be sustained though mass rallies every week and civil disobedience in the streets. And I believe a revolution under Trump can happen if he topples Assad and invades Iran

Michael continues to break into this heated debate to make a funny comment. Now we get back to Seth Rich. So Sam again thinks that it’s crazy to think that politicians won’t murder people to cover up corruption. I agree Tim Black that we need to ask questions. Again I’m an agnostic on Seth Rich, I don’t know who killed Seth Rich.

One of the most damming quotes from the Sam Seder vs Tim Black debate comes right around here. “She (Nancy Pelosi) is a great leader. I would not support a challenge to her” – Sam Seder. Ok so let’s give Sam the benefit of the doubt and say Pelosi wasn’t guilty for the thousands of losses of Democrats in elections over the past decade or so. So why is it Sam doesn’t bring up the fact Pelosi didn’t do shit to bring about real progressive change during her time as speaker from 2007 to 2011? She opposes single payer, she didn’t prosecute GWB, and she didn’t bring up the Employee Free Choice Act.

And finally Sam says Steny Hoyer would be worse than Pelosi. So Sam why not get rid of Hoyer? And if he’s replaced with another corporate Dem get rid of them until we get someone who will at least listen to progressives. That’s what the Republicans did with Eric Cantor and their party is stronger than ever. Tim brings up the fact Sam voted for Hillary Clinton in New York, a blue non-swing state, but he doesn’t blame Hillary for not appointing Bernie Sanders as her VP pick, which everyone agrees would have won her the election. You know why she didn’t do it? Because of spite and corporate greed. She would rather lose to a Republican than give an inch to progressives, and that’s why we have Trump.

The Crimes of Donald Trump

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By Joseph Ballin

5/13/2017 7:10 PM EST

The one thing I hate most about being American is the hypocrisy of our views towards life and rule of law. This brings me to Donald Jay Trump, a guy you may have heard of. So Trump paints himself as his good moral god fearing Christian man who cares about muh fetuses, while on the side grabbing pussy. However, Trump has no problem dropping drones on innocent people while the orange cunt eats chocolate cake in Mar-a-Lago. I do not know the exact numbers of innocents murdered under the fascist Trump regime. The Obama regime considered any male 16 years or older killed as “terrorists”. It is hard to tell when the US is propping up proxy regimes like Egyptian General Sisi and funding secret covert terrorists in Syria since 2005. If I had to estimate he’s killed at least a couple thousand if not ten thousand innocent people since January 20.

For all the Trump voters out there who thought he was the peacenik to Hillary’s war mongering, where are you now? He’s given the CIA and generals the power to kill anyone at any time and deploy US ground troops to any country at any time. We’ve seen an massive escalation in drone strikes under the Trump regime, along with a $100 billion arms deal for Saudi Arabia. There is a build up of US ground troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, along with deployment of US ground troops in Syria and Somalia. He allowed his generals to drop MOAB on Afghanistan and we still do not know how many people were killed from that strike because nobody has been allowed anywhere near the blast. And he is pushing us towards war with North Korea and Iran, all while striking the Syrian government over a chemical attack committed by the al-Qaeda white helmets. Relations with Russia are at the worst they have ever been and we are already probably in a new cold war with them. Trump’s foreign policy is basically a return back to the times of the Golden Horde.

Again all of this doesn’t mean Hillary was the peace candidate, far from it, but we didn’t have people like Trump supporters out right lying saying she was. If I had it my way I would have Trump, Hillary, Obama, Bush, Bill Clinton, GWB, GHWB, Jimmy Carter, and pretty much almost the entire US government on trial for war crimes against humanity and a sentence of life imprisonment without parole, since I don’t believe in the death penalty. I think Dr. Cornel West summed it up best when he said “That means that a child in Yemen, Somalia, and a child in Pakistan has the same value as a child in Newtown, Connecticut, Southside Chicago, Chinatown, barrio and an Indian reservation. A child is a precious child, no matter what. Somebody’s got to be accountable for that.”

Everyone being treated the same aka equality right? You would think in the good old US of A that would be the case, but equality under the law in US is bullshit. If I kill someone I go to jail, if someone in the US government kills someone they get medals. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, the near dead fossil and AG for the US, is rebooting the War on Drugs (that never ended since it’s declaration by Richard Nixon), telling prosecutors to seek the “most serious” charges and stricter sentences on the issue of drugs. So smoking a plant winds your ass in jail for life because private prisons demand cheap slave wage labor. Meanwhile wallstreet can steal from us and get tax payer bail out in order to keep the gravy train of capitalism going for another 10 years till the next crash.

“If voting made a difference, they wouldn’t let us do it” said Mark Twain, a man who was centuries ahead of his time. Until we call out the hypocrisy of both Republicans and Democrats we will never been free of this unless cycle of the War on so called “Terror” and War on so called “Drugs.” These wars are actually wars on the poor and non-white people. A lot of so called liberals hated Bush, but where ok with Obama putting a nice face on Bush’s policies. Now with Trump, the nice face has been replaced with an ugly orange turd, which is good for the left in the sense it wakes people up to just how fucked our government is. We need to move past this D vs R bullshit, end all these bullshit wars for profit, and move together as horizontally organized global workers party.

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Links:

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-saudi-idUSKBN18832N

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/05/12/528086525/sessions-tells-prosecutors-to-seek-most-serious-charges-stricter-sentences

Cinco de Mayo

They fucked with the wrong Mexican…

I came across this via Digby, who also has a must-read post today about the ludicrous discussions going on in Congress about the need to strip Americans of their citizenship if they are suspected of supporting terrorists. The freedom-lovers on the right feel that this is gravely important to secure the homeland.  But when Mayor Bloomberg points out that people on the watch list are currently free to buy guns… suddenly their heads explode and the 2nd amendment must not be abridged at any cost.

Just so we’re all clear:

(1) American citizen + terrorist sympathizer + deny guns = BAD

(2) American citizen + terrorist sympathizer + strip citizenship/torture/deport = GOOD

It’s a miracle we’ve made it as a country as long as we have.  I get the strong sense that it’s mostly been inertial forces that have kept our civil rights intact up until now, but those forces are just about spent. Creeping authoritarianism has really taken a toll if elected officials can have these discussions with a straight face.

Since we’re on the subject, read this too: If the TSA Were Running New York

– All vans or SUVs headed into Midtown Manhattan would have to stop and have their contents inspected. If any vehicle seemed for any reason to have escaped inspection, Midtown in its entirety would be evacuated;
– A whole new uniformed force — the Times Square Security Administration, or TsSA – would be formed for this purpose;
– The restrictions would never be lifted and the TsSA would have permanent life, because the political incentives here work only one way. A politician who supports more open-ended, more thorough, more intrusive, more expensive inspections can never be proven “wrong.” The absence of attacks shows that his measures have “worked”; and a new attack shows that inspections must go  further still. A politician who wants to limit the inspections can never be proven “right.” An absence of attacks means that nothing has gone wrong — yet. Any future attack would always and forever be that politician’s “fault.” Given that asymmetry of risks, what public figure will ever be able to talk about paring back the TSA?

Welcome to America

Just wanted to highlight this story of another of our best and brightest protecting the homeland

TAMPA — A Marine reservist armed with a tire iron beat and chased a man he thought was an Arab terrorist and even called 911 to say he was detaining the man, police said.

But the man he assaulted was actually a Greek Orthodox priest visiting from overseas who spoke limited English, police said.

[…] Marakis apparently got lost and exited northbound Interstate 275 into downtown Tampa, police said.

The priest followed several cars into the Seaport Channelside Apartments on Twiggs Street. He got out of his car and asked Bruce for help.

Instead of offering help, Bruce struck the priest on the head with a tire iron, police said.

He then chased the priest for three blocks to the Madison Avenue and Meridian Avenue, police said, and even called 911 to say that an Arabic man tried to rob him.

Bruce said he was going to take the Arab into custody. When police arrived, Bruce told them the victim was a terrorist.

Sadly, I suspect this story is only newsworthy because the victim turned out to be a priest.  How many guatemalans do you suppose get clubbed in Florida on a daily basis as part of the Great Xenophobia?  I guess the main difference there is that (1) immigrants are smart enough not to ask Bubba for directions, and (2) Bubba doesn’t usually call 911 afterward.

(via)

Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace

After several months of obsessively studying American politics, it’s my carefully considered opinion that this country is run by worthless assholes. I never thought Bush was remotely in charge of things, I don’t know why I thought things would be any different with Obama.  They’re both pitchmen for the new fascism. Obama’s a hell of a lot better at it than W, which is in many ways terribly depressing.  

Was anyone else disturbed by yesterday’s speeches? Talk about your false dichotomy. Obama brilliantly explains all the ways we have to continue Bush Administration policy, then before you can object, here comes a fat slab of Cheney to make you count your blessings.  You tell me which one of them had this to say:

Now, finally, there remains the question of detainees at Guantanamo who cannot be prosecuted yet who pose a clear danger to the American people. And I have to be honest here—this is the toughest single issue that we will face. We’re going to exhaust every avenue that we have to prosecute those at Guantanamo who pose a danger to our country. But even when this process is complete, there may be a number of people who cannot be prosecuted for past crimes, in some cases because evidence may be tainted, but who nonetheless pose a threat to the security of the United States. Examples of that threat include people who’ve received extensive explosives training at al Qaeda training camps, or commanded Taliban troops in battle, or expressed their allegiance to Osama bin Laden, or otherwise made it clear that they want to kill Americans. These are people who, in effect, remain at war with the United States.

Let me repeat: I am not going to release individuals who endanger the American people. Al Qaeda terrorists and their affiliates are at war with the United States, and those that we capture—like other prisoners of war—must be prevented from attacking us again. Having said that, we must recognize that these detention policies cannot be unbounded. They can’t be based simply on what I or the executive branch decide alone. That’s why my administration has begun to reshape the standards that apply to ensure that they are in line with the rule of law. We must have clear, defensible, and lawful standards for those who fall into this category. We must have fair procedures so that we don’t make mistakes. We must have a thorough process of periodic review, so that any prolonged detention is carefully evaluated and justified. 

This preventive detention shit is intended to be the new policy. Here’s Diane Feinstein telling Andrea Mitchell all about it:

The laws of war very clearly say that you can keep a combatant in detention for the length of the conflict. Now this is a bit of an unusual war in that sense, but it is, in fact, a war and it is going to go on. 

Therefore, if somebody is judged to be an unlawful combatant, and they remain a threat to our national security, what needs to be evolved is a process whereby their detention is periodically reviewed, either by a court, which I would prefer, or by a military panel and a determination made as to whether the threat still continues.

Now this would happen, I would think, annually, in a lengthy detention, but there is no question in my mind that somebody who is classified as an unlawful combatant can, in fact, be kept in detention until the end of this conflict, which means terrorism, against the United States, against her allies, and in the world abates.

Oh, I see! So these guys who can’t be convicted of any crimes unless it’s in a kangaroo court, get to be released when the War Against Terror is officially over? When will that be? When the threat level drops to green?

UPDATE: Greenwald with (lots) more, natcherly.

If you really think about the argument Obama made yesterday — when he described the five categories of detainees and the procedures to which each will be subjected — it becomes manifest just how profound a violation of Western conceptions of justice this is.  What Obama is saying is this:  we’ll give real trials only to those detainees we know in advance we will convict.  For those we don’t think we can convict in a real court, we’ll get convictions in the military commissions I’m creating.  For those we can’t convict even in my military commissions, we’ll just imprison them anyway with no charges (“preventively detain” them). 

Giving trials to people only when you know for sure, in advance, that you’ll get convictions is not due process.  Those are called “show trials.”  In a healthy system of justice, the Government gives everyone it wants to imprison a trial and then imprisons only those whom it can convict. 

UPDATE II: Maddow with solid coverage too!

Oh Bama Where Art Thou?

I’ve been fuming all week and was going to do a bunch of research, but Greenwald’s post yesterday summed it up perfectly, thanks for linking to that…

This Administration cannot sweep the crimes of the previous administration under the rug, we absolutely must attack every policy and action, we must be open with this process to heal our country and to restore our moral standing and credibility in the world. Photos of detainee abuse have already been released. The cat is out of the bag. If we continue to deny what happened we look like cowards, but worse we lose our moral standing in the world. There is no room for nuance and middle ground – torture, transparency, human rights…these are central to democracy around the world and to the core values of our country for generations.

If we are successful in reversing the direction of the W administration, then history books will put the Military Commissions Act alongside the Alien and Sedition Acts…misguided mistakes that we reversed in short order. We cannot adopt one single aspect of these horrible, hateful, and mindless reactions to terrorism – they must rejected completely or they will continue to fester in the hearts and minds of Americans and we will never recover. This nation will forever have the precedent of the Bush administration to allow the ends to justify the means. Our system of checks and balances will be forever broken, and Nixon/Cheney/Rice will be right – if the president does it then it must be OK.

We need a suite of new legislation that rolls back the abuses of the Bush administration, and we need to prosecute any illegal actions. It should be a no brainer. Partially adopting any of these shameful and ineffective debacles of the previous administration like the military commissions is completely unacceptable. Even if these tactics go un-used, without a complete reversal of this country’s direction in this regard the Obama Administration will be part of that disgrace. You can never cede the moral or philosophical high ground on these issues. If we do not prosecute torturers, we betray the many soldiers who had every right to want to exact revenge and take an eye for an eye, but held themselves to the higher standards espoused by their country.

I wanna git mo terrorists

The Right’s reaction to closing gitmo is an absolute bonanza of hypocrisy. As you’ll recall from the Bush Legacee Tour: Revisin’ and Hypnotisin’, (which made the first part of January 2009 such a joy to behold), W was very disappointed that other countries were not stepping up and taking the gitmo prisoners off our hands after we detained them for four or five years and told them to stick their Geneva Convention in their Habeus Corpus. (now that we have elected a real leader, things have definitely changed).

Now that we are finally shutting down what will forever be one of the blackest marks in US history, we are subjected to the following incessant boob-ery:

Yes Sean, I too am so scared, the mere thought of this guy being held in a maximum security prison anywhere within 3000 miles of my front door makes me pee my pants. Guantanamo Bay, however, is located on another planet, and since Bin Laden doesn’t train astronauts, I feel very safe right now. Al Qaeda also doesn’t train people how to make rafts that could get from Cuba to Florida, so anywhere outside the continental US will do.

I really hope Obama wises up and realizes that the only way to combat terrorism is to follow the GOP’s example:

1. arrest as many people as possible, sometimes at random
2. if the Red Cross asks, take them on a tour of the cafeteria and weight room
3. avoid gathering evidence, especially anything that can be used in a court of law
4. secretly release more than 1/2 of them, the ones you’re pretty sure didn’t do anything
5. base the safety of our citizens (and the world’s) on the notion that you’ll be able to create your own new system of justice that will ‘totally work, dude’
6. if anything goes wrong, remember that regardless of how reckless and un-imaginably stupid your plan was, what are they going to do now, release them?

Like we saw on Professor Hannity’s show, the dude rented apartments on the coast of Yemen! What more proof do you need? What do you want them to do, write this shit down on paper and submit it in a court of law?

Can we please return to a policy of black ops assassinations like a civilized superpower? Maybe we can embed Heraldo Rivera with the Green Berets to make sure we can watch on the teevee. How about a reality tv show of the detainees first month in a US prison? Survivor Season 15: Leavenworth!

Operation Junta

Somebody please explain to me why this isn’t a HUGE red flag:

Pentagon to Detail Troops to Bolster Domestic Security

The U.S. military expects to have 20,000 uniformed troops inside the United States by 2011 trained to help state and local officials respond to a nuclear terrorist attack or other domestic catastrophe, according to Pentagon officials.

The long-planned shift in the Defense Department’s role in homeland security was recently backed with funding and troop commitments after years of prodding by Congress and outside experts, defense analysts said.

There are critics of the change, in the military and among civil liberties groups and libertarians who express concern that the new homeland emphasis threatens to strain the military and possibly undermine the Posse Comitatus Act, a 130-year-old federal law restricting the military’s role in domestic law enforcement.

According to Wikipedia, the Posse Comitatus Act “generally prohibits federal military personnel and units of the National Guard under federal authority from acting in a law enforcement capacity within the United States, except where expressly authorized by the Constitution or Congress.”  So to state that maintaining a troop presence in the US “may possibly undermine” the law is a bit rich.  Consider this article from the Army Times announcing the deployment a few months ago:

In the meantime, they’ll learn new skills, use some of the ones they acquired in the war zone and more than likely will not be shot at while doing any of it.

They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack.

Training for homeland scenarios has already begun at Fort Stewart and includes specialty tasks such as knowing how to use the “jaws of life” to extract a person from a mangled vehicle; extra medical training for a CBRNE incident; and working with U.S. Forestry Service experts on how to go in with chainsaws and cut and clear trees to clear a road or area.

The 1st BCT’s soldiers also will learn how to use “the first ever nonlethal package that the Army has fielded,” 1st BCT commander Col. Roger Cloutier said, referring to crowd and traffic control equipment and nonlethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals without killing them.

Naturally, this is all a response to the horrors of Katrina, when thousands of people suffered and died while federal and state troops went about the important business of securing property.  I find it deeply disturbing that the main lesson government authorities took away from that tragedy was the need for more and better “crowd control”.

Maybe I’m being irrational.  I’m sure when the next great horror is upon us, we’ll all be glad the Army is on hand to administer triage.  All I know is, Kurt Vonnegut, who grew up during the Great Depression in the years following World War I, once had this to say:

I was taught in the sixth grade that we had a standing army of just over a hundred thousand men and that the generals had nothing to say about what was done in Washington. I was taught to be proud of that and to pity Europe for having more than a million men under arms and spending all their money on airplanes and tanks. I simply never unlearned junior civics. I still believe in it. I got a very good grade.

Those days are long gone.