Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Obama Doctrine

Glenn Greenwald, reacting to the Haditha war crimes final verdict, posted four points, which resonate, of course, with his latest book and its profound message.  His points might be regarded as the centerpiece of "The Obama Doctrine":

The Rules of American Justice are quite clear:

(1) If you are a high-ranking government official who commits war crimes, you will receive full-scale immunity, both civil and criminal, and will have the American President demand that all citizens Look Forward, Not Backward.

(2) If you are a low-ranking member of the military, you will receive relatively trivial punishments in order to protect higher-ranking officials and cast the appearance of accountability.

(3) If you are a victim of American war crimes, you are a non-person with no legal rights or even any entitlement to see the inside of a courtroom.

(4) If you talk publicly about any of these war crimes, you have committed the Gravest Crime — you are guilty of espionage – and will have the full weight of the American criminal justice system come crashing down upon you.
A president who lied himself into office by claiming he would protect whistleblowers, is now prosecuting more of them than any of his predecessors.

A president who lied himself into office by claiming he would end torture and prosecute those who had engaged in it earlier, is now just snuffing people that get in the way:
The promise to scrap his predecessor’s hardliner war-on-terror policies, which helped Barack Obama win presidential election, is apparently off the table. The political reality is that the current administration is doing quite the opposite thing.

Long before he became US president or the winner of a Noble Peace Prize, Barack Obama was a constitutional law professor. During his election campaign he vowed to reverse the abuses and policies of his predecessor George W. Bush.

Three years later, many civil rights advocates, who once cheered “yes, we can,” are finding themselves disillusioned.

“Not only has the Obama administration blocked torture accountability and refused to investigate and prosecute. He has basically maintained indefinite detention. He has revived military commissions. As well he has expanded targeted killings – they’ve increased under the Obama administration manifold, and he’s even authorized the killing of a US citizen,” explains Maria LaHood from the Center for Constitutional Rights.

World-renowned author and scholar Noam Chomsky believes the Obama administration has changed gears and accelerated illegal practices into overdrive.

“There is a shift between Bush’s policies and the Obama’s on this. Bush’s policy was to kidnap people, take them to Guantanamo or Bagram or some other torture chamber and try to extract some information from them. Obama’s policy is just to kill them. They’re killing them all over the world. 

And the Bin Laden assassination was a case point,” he told RT.

Another was the drone killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born cleric. President Obama described the man as “the leader of external operations for Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.”
Apart from those two are hundreds more killed by US UAVs. The number of drone strikes during the first two years under Obama exceeded the total carried out during Bush’s 10 years.

“If a President McCain were doing the exact same thing that President Obama is doing, he would have been denounced by a lot of liberals. It’s one of those dangerous moments in the US history. We saw it a bit with Clinton in the 1990s, where a democrat campaigned and pledged to change the country and the world has actually pushed the right-wing agenda further forward than a republican could have if they took the power,” says New York-based journalist and author Jeremy Scahill.

As Obama gears up for his re-election campaign, civil liberties groups that believed his words the first time around are now left to judge the commander-in-chief on his actions.
"As Obama gears up for his election campaign,"  I asked some of my friends this morning what they think the Democrats who still support this fucking war criminal should put up as his campaign slogan.  Here are some of the suggestions:
‘The devil made me do it’


Obama 2012: “I Suck Slightly Less”

Frack Baby Frack

Of the Banksters, By the Banksters, For the Banksters

This Time is Different


Half a Loaf of Bread Is Better Than None

“Half a slice is better than none

You won’t be sorry this time!

The Rule of Law is so last century!

He Put the Extra in Extra-Judicial

Believe in change you can be deceived by!

Obama/Citigroup 2012

Who else you gonna vote for?

Eat your peas and get over it!

It could be worse

Read my lips – I am a Democrat

Since 2009 Giving the Tea Party only 95% of what they demand – we know compromise

Obama – He Killed Osama
As you might glean, it will be a tough haul for the Obama campaign machine to get people like me who donated every penny we could afford, opened up our houses to volunteers, and campaigned on the streets and in the Obama HQ for hours and hours to do that again. 

Do you think you have a slogan that will help him convince me he deserves the same efforts I gave in 2008? 

Good luck!

Friday, January 27, 2012

20, Well, Maybe 12 Visionaries for 2012 – #s 3 & 4: Winona LaDuke and Stewart Brand

Winona LaDuke and Stewart Brand
I. One of the people most often mentioned as an early visionary of the "global village" concept that developed in the mid-1960s, as a result of Marshall McLuhan's ideas, expounded in his seminal book, The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man, was Stewart Brand, the chief editor of the basic series of Whole Earth catalogs, which began appearing in 1969.  I met Brand at an event held somewhere in Marin County (the fogs of time...) in late 1968.  A bunch of us had gathered at Timothy Leary's dentist's place, as part of organizing for the Autumn Equinox Conference at Harbinger Springs, in Lake County, California.  That conference was supposed to lead to a further 1969 Celestial Synapse Conference there, that never took place, at least at Harbinger.  He was excited about his project - the catalog.  He couldn't find time to participate in ours.

I liked his idea - making it easy for people to have access to tools for independent, sustainable living.  The catalog was filled with entries about stuff one could buy or get for free that could help in a lot of areas.  Brand defined its purpose thusly in the forward of the first edition:
We are as gods and might as well get good at it. So far, remotely done power and glory—as via government, big business, formal education, church—has succeeded to the point where gross defects obscure actual gains. In response to this dilemma and to these gains a realm of intimate, personal power is developing—power of the individual to conduct his own education, find his own inspiration, shape his own environment, and share his adventure with whoever is interested. Tools that aid this process are sought and promoted by the WHOLE EARTH CATALOG.
The first edition was subdivided into categories of topics:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

In the Age of Robotic Weapons

--- by Ralph Nader

The U.S. war in Afghanistan is testing so much futuristic detect and destroy weaponry that it can be called the most advanced all-seeing invasion in military history. From blanket satellite surveillance to soldiers’ infra-red vision to the remotely guided photographing, killer drones to the latest fused ground-based imagery and electronic signal intercepts, the age of robotic land, sea, and air weaponry is at hand.

U.S. and NATO soldiers and contractors greatly outnumber the Taliban, whose sandals and weapons are from the past century. Still, with the most sophisticated arsenals ever deployed, why are U.S. generals saying that less than 30,000 Taliban fighters, for almost a decade, have fought the U.S. led forces to a draw?

Perhaps one answer can be drawn from a ceremony that could be happening in various places in that tormented country. That is, a Jirga of elders awarding a young fighter the Jirga medal of honor for courage on the battlefield, which often happens to be their village or valley.

The chief elder rose to address a wise circle of villagers. “Today we are presenting our beloved Mursi with the revered Jirga medal of honor for courage beyond the call of duty in rescuing seven of his brother defenders from almost certain destruction.

The invaders had surrounded our young brothers at night in the great Helmand gully with their snipers, grenade-launchers and helicopter gunships.

It looked like the end. Until Mursi started a very smoky fire and diverted the enemy with a firebomb that startled several donkeys into braying loudly. In the few seconds absorbed by diverting the foreigners who directed their firepower in that direction, Mursi led his brothers, two of them wounded, through a large rock crevice and down an incline that was hidden from view and into a cave covered with bush. For some reason, the occupiers’ night vision equipment was not working, thanks be to Allah.

The next morning, the enemy had gone away, provably to start another deadly attack elsewhere on our people. Before the Jirga awards you this ancient symbol of resistance, Mursi, in the form of a sculptured shield made of a rare wood, will you say a few words to your tribe?”

Mursi, a thin as a rail twenty year old youth, rose.

“I accept this great honor on behalf of my brothers who escaped with their lives that terrible night in Helmand. I was very scared. The enemy has everything and we have nothing. They have planes, helicopters, artillery, many soldiers with equipment that resists bullets, sees in the dark and provides them with food, water and medicine. We only have our old rifles, some grenades and explosives. They can see us all the way from America on screens sitting in cool rooms where they can press buttons and wipe us out without our seeing or hearing anything coming at us. We are all so terrified. Especially the children.

We wonder why they are doing this to us? We never threatened them. They threaten everyone with their bases, ships, planes and missiles. I hear that the foreign soldiers ask themselves why are they here, what are they doing here and for what? But they are paid well to be here, destroying our country year after year, though they boast about building some bridges and digging some water wells. No thank you.”

“Go back to your families, you will never win because we are fighting to repel you invaders from our ancient tribal lands, our homes,. Fighting to expel the invaders is stronger and more righteous than your weapons and all your military wealth. Even if many of us lose our lives, we will prevail one day. For we will have heaven and they will have hell.”

A long knowing silence followed. A rooster crowed in the distance. The chief elder then slowly handed the medal to their brave hero.

Can the most militarily powerful country in the world, many of whose people and soldiers are opposed or have serious doubts about why we are continuing to pursue these senseless undeclared wars of aggression that create more hatred and enemies, look with empathy at what those people, whom we are pummeling, are going through? Will the Pentagon, which doesn’t estimate civilian casualties, let its officials speak publically about the millions of such casualties—deceased, injured and sick—that have afflicted innocent Iraqis, Afghanis and Pakistanis?

Will our current crop of political candidates for Congress and the Presidency ever reflect on the wise words of our past Generals—Dwight Eisenhower, George Marshall and earlier Smedley Butler—about the folly and gore, not the glory of war?

The eighteenth century words of the Scottish poet, Robert Burns, rings so true. He wrote:
“And would some Power the small gift give us.
To see ourselves as others see us!
It would from many a blunder free us…”

Cenk and Alyona Discuss the SOTU Speech on RT TV

I listened to the beginning of his triumphalist, militarist, inaccurate pap yesterday evening, driving between East High School and UAA. I tried watching the entire speech late last night, after I got home from work. I couldn't finish it.

I've never voted for an incumbent US president before (1972 - George McGovern, 1980 - Gus Hall and Angela Davis, 1996 - Ralph Nader and Winona LaDuke, 2004 - John Kerry), and it's looking more and more like I'm not going to break that record.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Andrew Adler, Obama Assassination Advocate, Resigns from His Own Paper

Andrew Adler, ex-newspaper editor
From Haaretz:
The owner and publisher of the Atlanta Jewish Times, Andrew Adler, who suggested Israel should assassinate U.S. President Barack Obama, has resigned from his post, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported on Monday.

Adler, who has since apologized for his article, listed three options for Israel to counter Iran’s nuclear weapons in an article published in his newspaper last Friday. The first is to launch a pre-emptive strike against Hamas and Hezbollah, the second is to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities and the third is to “give the go-ahead for U.S.-based Mossad agents to take out a president deemed unfriendly to Israel in order for the current vice president to take his place and forcefully dictate that the United States’ policy includes its helping the Jewish state obliterate its enemies.”
According to FOX News, he is under investigation by the US government:
Jewish advocacy groups condemned his comments as "outrageous," and Secret Service spokesman George Ogilvie said the agency is "aware" of the incident.

"We're conducting the appropriate investigative steps," he told FoxNews.com.
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency has a good roundup of some of the many negative reactions from prominent Jewish agencies and publications to Adler's January 13th column.

Jeremy Ben Ami, founder of  J Street, who was hosted by me last July at firedoglake's Book Salon has responded:
J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami issued the following statement in response to an editorial written by the publisher of the Atlanta Jewish Times calling for Israel to consider assassinating President Barack Obama:

“J Street condemns in the strongest possible terms the editorial in the Atlanta Jewish Times, written by the paper’s own publisher, that included a call for Israel to consider the assassination of President Obama. Andrew Adler’s remarks are un-American and decidedly not pro-Israel. An apology is insufficient and we welcome news that the US Secret Service is taking the ‘appropriate investigative steps.’

Words can’t express the repugnance that all Americans – Jewish and other – must feel toward someone who could use language like this. It is out of keeping with American and Jewish values.

This incident should serve, however, as more than an opportunity to join in condemning a lone extremist. It should be a wake-up call for the Jewish community that the discourse around the President and Israel, generally, has gotten far out of control.

One problem is that we have allowed the portion of American Jewry who disagrees with President Obama’s policies to too freely call him ‘anti-Israel’ without adequate pushback from the leaders of our largest communal institutions, who know that charge to be untrue.
As I wrote at MyFiredoglake last week, and as many others have too, were Mr. Adler Muslim, his options between January 13th and now might have been considerably more limited than merely getting out of the publishing and op-ed/threat business.  That being said, the prompt and articulate responses from so many important voices in Jewish public life in the U.S. was quite good to see and not surprising.  The lack of attention this story has gotten in the mainstream press is another matter.

PEER Releases Email Showing White House Manipulation of BP Gulf Leak Info

I. On Monday, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) announced today that they have gotten positive proof of what many of us had been suspecting back in the spring of 2010, that the White House pressured government scientists to lowball how bad the BP Gulf of Mexico blowout really was:
Top Obama officials manipulated scientific analyses of independent experts to seriously lowball the amount of oil leaking from the BP Deepwater Horizon, according to a scientific integrity complaint filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

Documents obtained by PEER through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit indicate White House pressure to present low-range estimates as best estimates. In fact, numbers presented to the public were less than half the true flow rate.

On May 19, 2010, one month after the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe, the White House announced creation of a group of experts from academia, industry and government to generate an accurate and independent estimate of the oil leak rate. This group was called the Flow Rate Technical Group (FRTG).
It is important to post the email pointing toward what kind of pressure the FRTG was under at the time (emphases added):
From: McNutt, Marcia [mailto:marcia@mbari.org] Sent: Saturday, May 29, 2010 10:04 AM To: rileyj@u.washington.edu; pmbommer@mail.utexas.edu; Franklin.Shaffer@NETL.DOE.GOV; pedro.espina@nist.gov; aaliseda@u.washington.edu; lasheras@ucsd.edu; savas@newton.berkeley.edu; pdy@clarkson.edu; ira.leifer@bubbleology.com; Wereley, Steven T. Cc: bill.lehr@noaa.gov; vlabson@usgs.gov Subject: Pending developments

Dear Plume Team:

First, wanted to say that it is terrific that the team is moving forward with providing an upper bound with the new data. I cannot tell you what a nightmare the past two days have been dealing with the communications people at the White House, DOI, and the NIC who seem incapable of understanding the concept of a lower bound. The press release that went out on our results was misleading and was not reviewed by a scientist for accuracy. It was based on a brief report that Bill, Vic, and I had prepared, and the communications people "thought" that it reflected our results, but it didn't because they don't understand what a lower bound is. Bottom line: if you are at a university, do convince some of your best and brightest to go into science communication. Please. Let me give you a flavor of some of the "suggestions" I was getting from the NIC and from the communications people at the White House and DOI as recently as yesterday afternoon as to how to "simplify" our bottom line:

From a NIC Admiral: How about just saying that the range of flow rates is 12,000 to 25,000 barrels per day? (No, because the 25,000 is a LOWER bound, not an UPPER bound....)

From a White House communications person: How about saying that several lines of evidence suggest that the flow is 12,000 to 19,000 barrels per day but that the rate could be as high as 25,000 barrels per day? (No, because the 25,000 is a LOWER bound, not an UPPER bound...)

The message I delivered, with 100 representatives from the media present, was that 3 lines of evidence raised the minimum rate of release to 12,000 barrels per day. Two lines of evidence raised the limit to as high as 19,000 barrels per day. One method determined the rate to be 25,000 barrels per day OR HIGHER. We were still working to improve these estimates and get the upper bound from the flow rate team. This was the least amount of interpretation I could possibly put on the results.

Very few representatives from the media really took the time to understand this. CNN was the best. I want to thank those of you who also took the time to educate the media on the complexity of this situation, and especially to those who did so in a fair and balanced way without trying to cast doubt on the scientific integrity of other groups. We are all after the truth here.In other news, I worked with a wonderfully resourceful Lieutenant here from the Coast Guard, Joe Kusak, and together we have managed to mobilize the Woods Hole experiment to directly image the plume with 1.8MHz imaging sonar and 1200 kHz ADCP. They are at the airport now awaiting a lift on a Coast Guard chopper to the Neptune Skandi where they will be integrated into an ROV to image the plume. We are also trying to get Ti sampling bottles on the ROV. This requires getting the UNOLS safety standards, which the bottles meet, crosswalked to ABS standards, which the workboat ROVs require. As I was chair of UNOLS when the safety standards were written, I recall that there were words in there that the UNOLS standards exceed the ABS standards. Just in case, I have Steve Etchemendy from MBARI standing be to interceed. He was an Alvin pilot, so knows the origin of the safety requirements for the Ti bottles, but also worked for Oceaneering, the workboat operators who need to sign off on the gas sampling.

My view is that the flux from the plume will be captured in a few days' time with an LMRP cap. It will be good to have the WHOI equipment calibrated to that flux so that if there ever is another blowout in the OCS, we will have calibrated methods for measuring the release from day 1.

Sorry this email got so long. Have to send from my MBARI account as my USGS computer is in service so I am on a loaner and only have bb access to my USGS mail. But thanks again for your service to the FRTG and I look forward to more results.

PEER's press release on the information goes on (emphasis added):
Using new scientific integrity rules, PEER today filed a complaint charging that the leader of one of the FRTG Teams, Dr. William Lehr of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), manipulated the scientific results of the FRTG experts throughout the entire crisis to significantly understate the spill rate. Lehr is also the author of the now infamous “Oil Budget Calculator” and a report concluding 75% of the oil was gone from the Gulf by August 2010.

Lehr was leader of one of the most important FRTG teams, the “Plume Team” which analyzed videos of the oil leaks to produce the first estimates.  Three of the 13 Plume Team experts used a technique called Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) to estimate a leak rate in the range of 25,000 bpd.  But three other experts on the Plume Team reported that PIV was underestimating the size of the leak by more than 50%. Those three experts used a different technology to correctly peg the leak rate at 50,000 to 60,000 bpd.

Yet Lehr did not tell the public or key decision makers that there was a deep split on the Plume Team.
And PEER mentions aspects of the White House manipulations and pressures that have ramifications on the announced "settlement" the government has come up with BP, on spill damages:
In fact, the leak rate was physically measured by an Energy Department team as the well was capped.  This final official estimate set the leak rate at 62,000 bpd (decreasing to 53,000 bpd when finally closed), proving correct the suppressed estimates from dissenting Plume Team members.
PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch stated Monday:
"This complaint serves as a litmus test as to whether the Obama administration will apply its scientific integrity rules to its own actions,” stated PEER executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that his organization has waged an 18-month court battle to obtain approximately 100 highly redacted emails while several hundred more emails are still being withheld.  “Hopefully, the investigation of this complaint will force the immediate release of the full deliberations so that the scientific record can be set straight."
Mother Jones and Forbes covered the story Monday.  Here's Kate Sheppard for Mother Jones, in her conclusion, with an update:
The government was also criticized for its handling of an August 2010 report on where the oil went, for which Lehr also served as the lead scientist. (I've requested comment from NOAA and the White House, and will update this post to reflect that when I receive it.)

UPDATE: Scott Smullen, a spokesman for NOAA, said it is "not appropriate to comment" on this matter because it is still in litigation.

It's not entirely clear from PEER's release, though, what was real reason for the inaccurate figures—a single scientist giving inaccurate information, the White House pressuring him to do so, or the White House screwing up the reporting of the figures. Whatever it was, it resulted in the public getting a dramatically inaccurate impression about the size of the spill.
Here's John McQuaid for Forbes:
In the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, it took weeks before the public got a decent estimate for the amount of oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico.  BP claimed not to care (it was supposedly focused on stopping the oil, not estimating how much there was). And from the White House on down, government officials seemed downright incurious about getting an accurate figure out there. So for weeks, a placeholder estimate of 5,000 barrels per day was the official figure, even though pretty much everyone knew it was wrong. Ultimately, the figure turned out to be ten times higher.

Now we have some insight into what went wrong. An email released by the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) recounts the back-and-forth between scientists trying to estimate the flow of oil and the people at the White House and other entities doing political damage control.

Basically, political damage control won out over accuracy in the form of persistent, and wrong under-estimations.
Not surprisingly, there are no comments at the Forbes article.  The Mother Jones article has a growing number of them, though.  This one is fairly succinct, and hits on points important to me in Alaska, as we fight Shell's plans to drill offshore year-round in the Arctic, and as I'm directly involved in the growing struggle to stop a huge open-pit coal mine on the outskirts of Palmer, and less than four miles directly upwind from my house:
The world can't sustain this insane global predatory capitalist system anymore. Corporation have their tentacles in all levels of governments around the world. No treaties on climate change will come, no safety standards for drilling and transporting crude oil, no air quality standards for coal burning, and on and on. The corporate barons have ushered in a whole new global tyranny. So get used to this, lies, cover-ups and flat out indifference to the will of the people.
And this one, from the Gulf coast:
They have lied, failed to mention, coverered up, omitted  all real information on the Bp Oil Disaster. I live on the Al. Gulf Coast. Its horrible. Please help us.
II. Bmaz, Dr. Kirk Murphy and I are perhaps the only writers at firedoglake to bring much attention to the very important work done by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

Hats off to Jeff Ruch and his dedicated team!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Wind on January 21, 2012 - Wasilla, Alaska

Here's a Youtube I made of our weather today.  Drifts have all but closed our driveway.  I'm going to have to rent a neighbor's bobcat to crack them up and move them, as they're too thick for the snowblower.

Here's a picture of the driveway last week, before the drifts formed. The snow in the drifts probably weighs about 12 to 15 tons.

Thoughts on Dmitri Shostakovich's Babi Yar Symphony and Occupy Wall Street

Yevgeni Yevtushenko in the 1960s
A remarkable performance from August 2006 showed up on Youtube late last month. It is a rendition of Soviet composer Dmitri Shostakovich's 13th Symphony, by the Maryinsky Theater Orchestra and Chorus, with bass Mikhail Petrenko, conducted by the great Valery Gergiev. The presentation was on August 19, 2006, at Royal Albert Hall, as part of the BBC Proms series. The recording, in high definition video, and with superb sound, has subtitles. It is a stunning document.

I've written a little about the Occupy Wall Street movement and the fine arts here, covering, for instance, the Occupy Lincoln Center protests after the final performance by the Metropolitan opera of Philip Glass' opera about pacifism and civil disobedience, Satyagraha.  I wrote then:
I would like to see more artists involved in OWS in 2012 than has been the case this year.  It is certainly true that a lot of artists are involved, but they are mostly popular artists, with only a sprinkling of personalities or top names from the fine arts.

The reality that among the first victims of funding cuts in education and government agencies are fine arts programs and classes, and that this has been going on for decades, hasn’t been covered as much as it should have been.  Arts programs all over the country were the prototypes for moves designed to lower taxes on the 1%.
I've written a fair number of works that protest injustice, violence and environmental degradation. In America, protest music is generally associated with the realms of the blues, jazz, rock, rhythm-and-blues and hip-hop.  Classical composers who have joined in social protests through their works have been few and far between.  The modern American composer who suffered most for his political activities was the iconic populist artist, Aaron Copland.  He had the audacity to stiff Sen. Joe McCarthy's juggernaut.  When called to testify in front of McCarthy, here was part of the exchange:
[A]fter composer Aaron Copland denied ever having been a communist, McCarthy hectored the composer, "You have what appears to be one of the longest communist-front records of anyone we have had here."

Copland replied, "I spend my days writing symphonies, concertos, ballads, and I am not a political thinker."

Copland was never called to appear at a public hearing.
He was blacklisted from the film industry and other important venues.  A performance of his Lincoln Portrait for President Eisenhower's inaugural events was cancelled.

My own work, The Skies Are Weeping, got me denounced by Alaska Rep. Bob Lynn in front of a joint session of the Alaska Legislature.  Unlike Copland, I've still got my job.

But compared to the ordeals of Soviet composer Dmitri Shostakovich and thousands of Soviet artists from 1935 well into the 1960s, we were lucky, to say the least.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Atlanta Publisher Andrew Adler Wants Obama "Whacked" by the Mossad

Adler's solicitation for Obama assassination (click to enlarge)
There it is.  Andrew B. Adler's editorial from his paper, The Atlanta Jewish Times, from January 13, 2012:

Here's John Cook at Gawker, covering it late yesterday:
Andrew Adler, the owner and publisher of the Atlanta Jewish Times, a weekly newspaper serving Atlanta's Jewish community, devoted his January 13, 2012 column to the thorny problem of the U.S. and Israel's diverging views on the threat posed by Iran. Basically Israel has three options, he wrote: Strike Hezbollah and Hamas, strike Iran, or "order a hit" on Barack Obama. Either way, problem solved!

Here's how Adler laid out "option three" in his list of scenarios facing Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu (the column, which was forwarded to us by a tipster, isn't online, but you can read a copy here):

Three, give the go-ahead for U.S.-based Mossad agents to take out a president deemed unfriendly to Israel in order for the current vice president to take his place, and forcefully dictate that the United States' policy includes its helping the Jewish state obliterate its enemies.

Yes, you read "three" correctly. Order a hit on a president in order to preserve Israel's existence. Think about it. If I have thought of this Tom Clancy-type scenario, don't you think that this almost unfathomable idea has been discussed in Israel's most inner circles?

Another way of putting "three" in perspective goes something like this: How far would you go to save a nation comprised of seven million lives...Jews, Christians and Arabs alike?

You have got to believe, like I do, that all options are on the table.

It's hard to tell whether or not Adler is just some crank. But the Atlanta Jewish Times, which he purchased in 2009, appears to be a real community newspaper. It was founded in 1925 and,according to Wikipedia, claims a circulation of 3,500 and staff of five. To judge from its web site, it's a going concern.
Adler's newspaper isn't what it used to be, and, according to Wikipedia, "After [Adler's] takeover the website jtonline.us ceased to be updated..  This may explain the gap of a week between the editorial's publication and the pushback, which has begun in earnest today, inducing an apology from Mr. Adler:
The owner of the Atlanta Jewish Times apologized for an opinion column in which he counted President Obama's assassination as among Israel's options in heading off a nuclear Iran.

"I very much regret it, I wish I hadn't made reference to it at all," Andrew Adler told JTA on Friday.

He said he would publish an apology in his next edition, and that reaction from readers had been overwhelmingly negative.
That was from the Jewish Telegraph Agency's short report.  Here's The Forward:
The option for Israel to assassinate Obama was the third in a series that Adler laid out as choices for Netanyahu to confront the threat posed by Iran. Adler denied that he was advocating that Israel consider ordering Obama’s assassination. He claimed he only wrote the piece to provoke readers.

“I don’t stand behind what I wrote and my intention was never to stand behind it. I just wanted to get a reaction from the local community, to see what they would do,” he told the Forward.

Adler said the reaction had been “very negative.” He vowed to write a column explaining himself, and insisted he has nothing against Obama.

“My view of the President is favorable,” Adler said.

The Secret Service, which investigates threats against the president, did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Adler, who is a member of the Chabad Movement and has been active in the Atlanta Jewish community for years, bought the paper 2-1/2 years ago. It has a circulation of between 3,000 and 4,000.

The National Jewish Democratic Council denounced Adler’s column, calling in the “height of irresponsibility.”

“To dare to give such despicable ideas space in a newspaper … is beyond the pale,” said NJDC President David A. Harris in a statement.
Adler's column on the 13th begs the question, "Is this one deranged man's response to the campaign of organized efforts afoot by ardently militant Zionists, to demonize Obama?"

Thursday, both Glenn Greenwald and Justin Raimondo wrote very long columns on how anyone questioning the militant Zionist meme that Iran is indeed developing nuclear weapons is being targeted as "anti-Semitic."  These attacks are centering on a few writers, who Raimondo has called  The DC Five:
The tale of the DC Five – the five Beltway bloggers at two prominent Democratic Washington thinktanks who have been smacked down (and one fired) for being insufficiently pro-Israel – is hardly a shock to those who know their history. But before we get into that, a few details on what is only the latest chapter in the story of how the War Party operates in this country.

The DC Five are Matt DussAli GharibEli Clifton and Zaid Jilani, bloggers at the Center for American Progress group blog, ThinkProgress, and former AIPAC employee MJ Rosenberg who currently writes for Media Matters.
Greenwald, in his update to a column titled The Smear Campaign against CAP and Media Matters rolls On, posted a screen shot of a Washington Post headline that declared "Liberal think tank tied to Obama accused of anti-Semitic language."  (They've since changed the headline.)

Both Greenwald and Raimondo, in their articles, give many examples of how a coordinated campaign against Obama, tied directly to the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is seeking to undermine the presidency and reelection of one of the most Israel-friendly presidents in U.S. history, for not being supportive enough of that pesky little country.  Adler's over-reaction may just be one of many.  As critical as I am of Obama, I'd give my life to protect his, if the occasion occurred.  Likewise Mr. Adler's life.

This shit is getting way, way out of hand.

A final thought:  Had the editor of the Dearborn American Muslim Times (I'm making the name up, so if there is such a paper - sorry) proposed that an option of dealing with any president of the United States might be to have him whacked by Iranian or Pakistani or Saudi or Syrian secret services, do you think that editor would be walking the streets a week later a free man or woman?

Of course not.

Blood on Whose Hands: Bradley Manning, Washington and Civilian Deaths

--- by Chase Madar

Who in their right mind wants to talk about, think about, or read a short essay about… civilian war casualties?  What a bummer, this topic, especially since our Afghan, Iraq, and other ongoing wars were advertised as uplifting acts of philanthropy: wars to spread security, freedom, democracy, human rights, gender equality, the rule of law, etc.

A couple hundred thousand dead civilians have a way of making such noble ideals seem like dollar-store tinsel.  And so, throughout our decade-long foreign policy debacle in the Greater Middle East, we in the U.S. have generally agreed that no one shall commit the gaucherie of dwelling on (and “dwelling on” = fleetingly mentioned) civilian casualties. Washington elites may squabble over some things, but as for foreigners killed by our numerous wars, our Beltway crew adheres to a sullen code of omertà.

Club rules do, however, permit one loophole: Washington officials may bemoan the nightmare of civilian casualties — but only if they can be pinned on a 24-year-old Army private first class named Bradley Manning.

Pfc. Manning, you will remember, is the young soldier who is soon to be court-martialed for passing some 750,000 military and diplomatic documents, a large chunk of them classified, to the website WikiLeaks.  Among those leaks, there was indeed some serious stuff about how Americans dealt with civilians in invaded countries.  For instance, the documents revealed that the U.S. military, then the occupying force in Iraq, did little or nothing to prevent Iraqi authorities from torturing prisoners in a variety of gruesome ways, sometimes to death.

Then there was that gun-sight video – unclassified but buried in classified material — of an American Apache helicopter opening fire on a crowd on a Baghdad street, gunning down a dozen men, including two Reuters employees, and injuring more, including children.

There were also those field reports about how jumpy American soldiers repeatedly shot down civilians at roadside checkpoints; about night raids gone wrong both in Iraq and Afghanistan; and a count of thousands of dead Iraqi civilians, a tally whose existence the U.S. military had previously denied possessing.
Together, these leaks and many others offered a composite portrait of military and political debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan whose grinding theme has been civilian casualties, a fact not much noted here in the U.S.  A tiny number of low-ranking American soldiers have been held to account for rare instances of premeditated murder of civilians, but most of the troops who kill civilians in the midst of the chaos of war are not tried, much less convicted.  We don’t talk about these cases a lot either.  

On the other hand, officials of all types make free with lusty condemnations of Bradley Manning, whose leaks are luridly credited with potential (though not actual) deaths.

Putting Lives in Danger

“[WikiLeaks] might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family,” said Admiral Mike Mullen, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on the release of the Afghan War Logs in July 2010.  This was, of course, the same Admiral Mullen who had endorsed a major escalation of the war in Afghanistan, which would lead to a tremendous “surge” in casualties among civilians and soldiers alike.  Here are counts — undoubtedly undercounts, in fact — of real Afghan corpses that, at least in part, resulted from the policy he supported: 2,412 in 2009, 2,777 in 2010, 1,462 in the first half 2011, according to the U.N. Assistance Mission to Afghanistan.  As far as anyone knows, here are the corpses that resulted from the release of those WikiLeaks documents: 0.  (And don’t forget, the stalemate war with the Taliban has not budged in the period since that surge.)  Who, then, has blood on his hands, Pfc. Manning — or Admiral Mullen?

Of course the admiral is hardly alone.  In fact, whole tabernacle choirs have joined in the condemnation of Manning and WikiLeaks for “causing” carnage, thanks to their disclosures.

Robert Gates, who served as secretary of defense under George W. Bush and then Barack Obama, also spoke sternly of Manning’s leaks, accusing him of “moral culpability.”  He added, “And that’s where I think the verdict is ‘guilty’ on WikiLeaks. They have put this out without any regard whatsoever for the consequences.”

This was, of course, the same Robert Gates who pushed for escalation in Afghanistan in 2009 and, in March 2011, flew to the Kingdom of Bahrain to offer his own personal “reassurance of support” to a ruling monarchy already busy shooting and torturing nonviolent civilian protesters.  So again, when it comes to blood and indifference to consequences, Bradley Manning — or Robert Gates?

Nor have such attitudes been confined to the military. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accused Manning’s (alleged) leak of 250,000 diplomatic cables of being “an attack on the international community” that “puts people’s lives in danger, threatens our national security, and undermines our efforts to work with other countries to solve shared problems.”

As a senator, of course, she supported the invasion of Iraq in flagrant contravention of the U.N. Charter.  She was subsequently a leading hawk when it came to escalating and expanding the Afghan War, and is now responsible for disbursing an annual $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt’s ruling junta whose forces have repeatedly opened fire on nonviolent civilian protesters.  So who’s been attacking the international community and putting lives in danger, Bradley Manning — or Hillary Clinton?
Harold Koh, former Yale Law School dean, liberal lion, and currently the State Department’s top legal adviser, has announced that the same leaked diplomatic cables “could place at risk the lives of countless innocent individuals — from journalists to human rights activists and bloggers to soldiers to individuals providing information to further peace and security.”

This is the same Harold Koh who, in March 2010, provided a tortured legal rationale for the Obama administration’s drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, despite the inevitable and well-documented civilian casualties they cause.  So who is risking the lives of countless innocent individuals, Bradley Manning — or Harold Koh?

Much of the media have clambered aboard the bandwagon, blaming WikiLeaks and Manning for damage done by wars they once energetically cheered on.

In early 2011, to pick just one example from the ranks of journalism, New Yorker writer George Packer professed his horror that WikiLeaks had released a memo marked “secret/noforn” listing spots throughout the world of vital strategic or economic interest to the United States.  Asked by radio host Brian Lehrer whether this disclosure had crossed a new line by making a gratuitous gift to terrorists, Packer replied with an appalled yes.

Now, among the “secrets” contained in this document are the facts that the Strait of Gibraltar is a vital shipping lane and that the Democratic Republic of the Congo is rich in minerals. Have we Americans become so infantilized that factoids of basic geography must be considered state secrets?  (Maybe best not to answer that question.)  The “threat” of this document’s release has since been roundly debunked by various military intellectuals.

Nevertheless, Packer’s response was instructive.  Here was a typical liberal hawk, who had can-canned to the post-9/11 drumbeat of war as a therapeutic wake-up call from “the bland comforts of peace,” now affronted by WikiLeaks’ supposed recklessness.  Civilian casualties do not seem to have been on Packer’s mind when he supported the invasion of Iraq, nor has he written much about them since.

In an enthusiastic 2006 New Yorker essay on counterinsurgency warfare, for example, the very words “civilian casualties” never come up, despite theircentrality to COIN theory, practice, and history.  It is a fact that, as Operation Enduring Freedom shifted to counterinsurgency tactics in 2009, civilian casualties in Afghanistan skyrocketed.  So, for that matter, have American military casualties.  (More than half of U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan occurred in the past three years.)
Liberal hawks like Packer may consider WikiLeaks out of bounds, but really, who in these last years has been the most reckless, Bradley Manning — or George Packer and some of his pro-war colleagues at the New Yorker like Jeffrey Goldberg (who has since left for the Atlantic Monthly, where he’s been busily clearing a path for war with Iran) and editor David Remnick?

Centrist and liberal nonprofit think tanks have been no less selectively blind when it comes to civilian carnage. Liza Goitein, a lawyer at the liberal-minded Brennan Center at NYU Law School, has also taken out after Bradley Manning.  In the midst of an otherwise deft diagnosis of Washington’s compulsive urge to over-classify everything — the federal government classifies an amazing 77 million documents a year — she pauses just long enough to accuse Manning of “criminal recklessness” for putting civilians named in the Afghan War logs in peril — “a disclosure,” as she puts it, “that surely endangers their safety.”

It’s worth noting that, until the moment Goitein made this charge, not a single report or press release issued by the Brennan Center has ever so much as uttered a mention of civilian casualties caused by the U.S. military.  The absence of civilian casualties is almost palpable in the work of the Brennan Center’s program in  “Liberty and National Security.”  For example, this program’s 2011 report “Rethinking Radicalization,” which explored effective, lawful ways to prevent American Muslims from turning terrorist, makes not a single reference to the tens of thousands of well-documented civilian casualties caused by American military force in the Muslim world, which according to many scholars is the prime mover of terrorist blowback.  The report on how to combat the threat of Muslim terrorists, written by Pakistan-born Faiza Patel, does not, in fact, even contain the words “Iraq,” “Afghanistan,” “drone strike,” “Pakistan” or “civilian casualties.”

This is almost incredible, because terrorists themselves have freely confessed that what motivated their acts of wanton violence has been the damage done by foreign military occupation back home or simply in the Muslim world.  Asked by a federal judge why he tried to blow up Times Square with a car bomb in May 2010, Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad answered that he was motivated by the civilian carnage the U.S. had caused in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.  How could any report about “rethinking radicalization” fail to mention this?  Although the Brennan Center does much valuable work, Goitein’s selective finger-pointing on civilian casualties is emblematic of a blindness to war’s consequences widespread among American institutions.

American Military Whistleblowers

Knowledge may indeed have its risks, but how many civilian deaths can actually be traced to the WikiLeaks revelations?  How many military deaths?  To the best of anyone’s knowledge, not a single one.  After much huffing and puffing, the Pentagon has quietly denied – and then denied again – that there is any evidence at all of the Taliban targeting the Afghan civilians named in the leaked war logs.

In the end, the “grave risks” involved in the publication of the War Logs and of those State Department documents have been wildly exaggerated.  Embarrassment, yes.  A look inside two grim wars and the workings of imperial diplomacy, yes.  Blood, no.

On the other hand, the grave risks that were hidden in those leaked documents, as well as in all the other government distortions, cover-ups, and lies of the past decade, have been graphically illustrated in aortal red.  The civilian carnage caused by our rush to war in Iraq and by our deeply entrenched stalemate of a war in Afghanistan (and the Pakistani tribal borderlands) is not speculative or theoretical but all-too real.

And yet no one anywhere has been held to much account: not in the political class, not in the military, not in the think tanks, not among the scholars, nor the media.  Only one individual, it seems, will pay, even if he actually spilled none of the blood.  Our foreign policy elites seem to think Bradley Manning is well-cast for the role of fall guy and scapegoat.  This is an injustice.

Someday, it will be clearer to Americans that Pfc. Manning has joined the ranks of great American military whistleblowers like Dan Ellsberg (who was first in his class at Marine officer training school); Vietnam War infantryman Ron Ridenhour, who blew the whistle on the My Lai massacre; and the sailors and marines who, in 1777, reported the torture of British captives by their politically connected commanding officer.  These servicemen, too, were vilified in their times. Today, we honor them, as someday Pfc. Manning will be honored.

Chase Madar is the author of  The Passion of Bradley Manning, to be published by OR Books in February.  He is an attorney in New York, a TomDispatch regular (where this column originally appeared), and a frequent contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, forthcoming from AK Press.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Ron Paul Booed on MLK Day in South Carolina for Wanting to Invoke Jesus' Teachings

Thoughts on MLK Day the Day Before Muhammed Ali's 70th Birthday

Today is Martin Luther King Day, a holiday commemorating the American Civil Rights struggles, and Dr. King's pivotal role in some of its important battles. Tuesday is Muhammed Ali's 70th birthday.

During the key civil rights battles between 1966 and King's assassination, champion heavyweight boxer Muhammed Ali was in his own struggle: his refusal to be inducted into the United States Army on religious grounds led to a five-year legal battle which went to the Supreme Court, ultimately vindicating Ali.

When Ali was stripped of his titles, ability to box or travel, and vilified in 1966, Dr. King was fighting aspects of functional Apartheid in the Chicago area, and struggling in a volatile environment, to keep his movement non-violent.  While King was receiving daily death threats, and actually pelted with bricks by young Whites at Chicago demonstrations, Ali was saying:
I ain't got no quarrel with the Vietcong. No Vietcong ever called me Nigger

No, I am not going 10,000 miles to help murder, kill, and burn other people to simply help continue the domination of white slavemasters over dark people the world over. This is the day and age when such evil injustice must come to an end:

Martin Luther King also turned against the Vietnam War, beginning in 1965, and supported Muhammed Ali's fight:

On April 4th, 1967, at New York City's Riverside Church, he delivered one of the most enduring anti-war statements in modern memory:
A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: "This is not just."
Soon afterward, he based a sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church on the Riverside address. Here it is:

How much we still have to learn from these two magnificent men.  Muhammed Ali gave very much.  Martin Luther King gave all.

Happy Birthday, Muhammed Ali.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Emerging "Dolphin Gap" Amidst False Flags Waving in the Real Fog of War

I. Don't tell the GOP presidential primary candidates, but they're missing an issue far more substantive than 99% of what they argue about in their debates and campaign ads:  The emerging Dolphin Gap in the Straits of Hormuz (hat tip to Harry Law):

The US:
"We've got dolphins," said retired Adm. Tim Keating in a Wednesday interview with NPR. Keating commanded the U.S. 5th Fleet in Bahrain during the run-up to the Iraq war. He sounded uncomfortable with elaborating on the Navy's use of the lovable mammals but said in a situation like the standoff in Hormuz, Navy-trained dolphins would come in handy:

KEATING: They are astounding in their ability to detect underwater objects.

NPR's TOM BOWMAN: Dolphins were sent to the Persian Gulf as part of the American invasion force in Iraq.

KEATING: I'd rather not talk about whether we used them or not. They were present in theater.

BOWMAN: But you can't say whether you used them or not.

KEATING: I'd rather not.
The Russians:
It sounds like the plot from a stupid B-movie, but it’s true: A marine mammal trainer and former Soviet militiaman just sold four “killer” dolphins and a white beluga whale to Iran.

According to a BBC report, the dolphins and whale were trained by the Soviet navy to attack “enemy frogmen with harpoons attached to their backs” and carry out “kamikaze strikes” against enemy ships. The animals learned to distinguish between Soviet and foreign submarines by the sounds of their propellers and were taught to carry mines to the hulls of enemy vessels to blow them (and themselves) up.
If the Iranians have four dolphins and Belugas, they might have plans for 400.  They may be less than two months from this, let alone two years, as has been said of their ability to create a nuclear weapon for at least the past 20 years.

When the GOP candidates get wind of this, they might challenge Obama about letting the "Dolphin Gap" get out of hand, as John F. Kennedy used the fictitious "Missile Gap" to close in on Richard M. Nixon in the 1960 White House contest.

To quickly close the gap before the election, the GOP could try to force Obama to immediately draft all the Cook Inlet Belugas in Alaska.  This would eliminate a thorn in the side of hyper developers who hope to soon extract very large amounts of coal, mined from pristine upper Inlet lands, out of the Inlet, and to the Orient.  Currently, Cook Inlet Belugas are listed by NOAA as endangered.  By drafting all of them for the cause, they would no longer be endangered.  At least in Cook Inlet, that is.

II. On a more serious note, this past week has seen many signs that a real shooting war between Iran and the United States Navy could start at any minute, perhaps by intent, perhaps by mistake.  I wrote a diary at MyFiredoglake on aspects of how dangerous this is on Friday. Since then, all indications are that both the Israelis and Americans are almost in free fall, as they appear to be frantically reassessing ramifications of what could only be best termed as a shaky alliance.  No statements issued by Israeli or American government officials regarding last week's Tehran scientist assassination should be given any more credence than should have been given to Eisenhower's May 5, 1960 statement, regarding a U-2 shot down over the USSR, that "there was absolutely no deliberate attempt to violate Soviet airspace and never has been."

Today's back-and-forth on who has cancelled or rescheduled the upcoming anti-missile defense exercises that would have allowed Israelis unprecedented access inside of US and NATO command structures is just one of many examples so far this year that there are perhaps major rebellions going on within both the American and Israeli military and defense establishments about how to chart these crazy waters.

Not just the Straits of Hormuz.

Sometimes I feel we'd be better off if the Dolphins and Belugas ran world affairs, rather than humans.

IBM Reduces Size for One Bit Storage from a Millon Atoms to Twelve

Colbert's "Mitt the Ripper" TV Ad

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Max Blumenthal on RT Discusses Israeli PM Netanyahu's War on Obama

The article by Blumenthal, to which he refers in the interview, is here

It has been discussed by Andrew Sullivan and at the blog, Mondoweiss.

Mat-Su Democrats Coastal Management Petition Signing This Weekend

Sat. and Sun. January 14 and 15, 2012
Carrs Safeway in Palmer

Coastal Management Petition Signing This Weekend       

Local supporters of the signature drive to get the reinstatement of coastal management on next year's general election ballot are working fast and furiously to gather enough signatures. Statewide, nearly 26,000 signatures of qualified voters are required to get a citizens' initiative on the ballot, but they can't all be from large population centers like Anchorage or Juneau - 10 percent of voters in the most recent general election from three-fourths of the house districts in the state must be represented on the petition.

You can sign the petition at the Palmer Carrs Safeway between 10AM and 2PM on Saturday and Sunday this weekend.

The state's Coastal Management program went out of existence on July 1st of this year because opponents in the State House and Governor's office could not come to agreement with project supporters in the State Senate. As a result, three local officials from coastal communities launched the Alaska Sea Party to pressure the legislature to reinstate it, and failing that, to put the initiative on next October's ballot. Organizers include Kodiak Island Borough Mayor Jerome Selby, Juneau Mayor Bruce Bothello and Kenai Peninsula Borough Assemblyman from Homer, Mako Haggarty.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Obama's Best 2012 Campaign Ad Yet

The end line "Or Else" got me.

Reading Between the Lines in the Corey Rossi Criminal Investigaion

This story just broke.  I had heard something was coming down last month, but was asked to keep quiet:
Corey Rossi, the director of the Alaska Department of Wildlife Conservation, has resigned after he was charged Thursday with a dozen misdemeanor counts related to illegal bear kills allegedly made during hunts he guided in 2008.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game spokesperson Nancy Long says Fish and Game Commission Cora Campbell accepted Rossi's resignation at 5 p.m. Thursday. Long said the incidents outlined in the charges happened before Rossi's employment with the state.

Alaska State Troopers say the charges against Rossi, 51, include one count of permit hunt report violations, three counts of making false statements on black bear sealing certificates, two counts of unsworn falsification, one count of illegal possession of an illegally taken bear, and five counts of unlawful acts by an assistant big game guide.
From what I know, there is probably going to be more hanging over Rossi than a dozen misdemeanors.  For one thing, how often does this happen in misdemeanor charges:
Troopers made it clear they did not act on their own.

"Charges were filed by the Department of Law, Office of Special Prosecutions and Appeals, following an investigation by the Alaska Wildlife Troopers, Wildlife Investigations Unit after learning of the offenses through an unrelated out-of-state operation conducted by another agency," the trooper statement said.
 The Office of Special Prosecutions and Appeals is the main source of attorneys and investigators in the realm of white collar crime.  They don't normally do misdemeanors  Or a dozen of them.

Here's part of the scam I think they're going to go after Rossi on, perhaps holding it over him, to get at people involved in kickbacks:
Rossi has also been active with the organization Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, a somewhat controversial hunter advocacy group. Guide Aaron Bloomquist, who has a business relationship with Rossi, was recently handed coveted, special permits from the wildlife division for bison, Dall sheep and musk ox. He is to take the permits to the Western Hunting and Conservation Expo in Salt Lake in February where they are to be auctioned to raise funds for the organization.

While this has been going on, Rossi has been lobbying to try to expand the wildlife director's authority over those permits to gain the power to change state hunting rules. Some in the department say he appears to wish to make it possible for the people who pay thousands for such permits, sometimes as much as $100,000, to obtain easy access to their hunts by means of helicopters.
If I write more, I might get whacked.  But this line in Craig Medred's Dispatch article on the bust is surely the understatement of the day:
The charges against Rossi were expected to send a shock wave through the state's hunting community and make him even more controversial.

Ron Paul Makes History in New Hampshire - Comes in 2nd in Both GOP and Democratic Party Primaries

GOP Presidential primary-level candidate Ron Paul got over 20% of the vote in this week's GOP New Hampshire primary.  But he also got 2,273 write-in votes in the state's Democratic Party primary, edging out all but President Obama.  Obama, with 49,480 votes walloped everyone else, but he was running in an essentially unchallenged environment, with all the party machinery behind him. 

This was the first time in U.S. history where a candidate came in second in both major partys' state primaries.  most news accounts of the New Hampshire Dem results do not even mention Paul.  If you've been following media coverage of Ron Paul as long as I have, this shouldn't be very surprising.

Writing about the New Hampshire Dem results for The Nation, John Nichols notes:

Almost one in five New Hampshire Democratic primary voters cast their ballots Tuesday for someone other than Barack Obama.

The president still won the primary with a handsome majority: 81.9 percent of the vote.

But the fact that more than 18 percent of New Hampshire voters who took Democratic primary ballots chose to write in the name of another candidate—anti-war Republican Ron Paul was the second-place finisher in the primary with 2,273 write-ins—or to vote for one of the little-known contenders whose names were on the ballot with Obama’s begs a question: What if a prominent progressive had mounted a primary challenge to the president?

Consumer activist Ralph Nader, scholar Cornel West and others argued for such a challenge last year. And Senator Bernie Sanders, Congressman Peter DeFazio and Congressman Dennis Kucinich were among the Capitol Hill progressives who suggested it would be good for the party and the president to face a meaningful primary test. While inside-the-party wrangling might be messy, the argument went, Democrats would ultimately be well served by an airing of the issues and a pressuring of the president to focus and intensify his outreach to the party's base voters.
Obama got just under 82% of the vote.  In recent New Hampshire Democratic primaries,  Clinton got 84% in 1996, but:
.... there are some other numbers that should concern Obama and his Democratic allies.

While Obama’s New Hampshire Democratic primary vote percentage in 2012 was roughly the same as Clinton’s in 1996, their actual vote totals were dramatically different.

Clinton won 76,797 votes out of a total 91,027 votes cast in the 1996 Democratic primary.

Obama won 49,480 votes out of a total of 60,996 votes cast in the 2012 Democratic primary.

The Democratic primary turnout this year was down dramatically (roughly 33 percent) from 1996, the last year when a Democratic president was seeking re-election without meaningful opposition. By contrast, 2012 Republican primary turnout was up by almost 39,000 votes, an increase of roughly 16 percent, from 1996.

In 1996, when Republicans had an intense contest (Pat Buchanan beat Bob Dole by a handful of votes), more than 30 percent of all primary voters in New Hampshire participated in the low-profile 
Democratic contest.

In 2012, when the Republican race was significantly less intense (Romney maintained a reasonably steady polling lead and won with ease), less than 20 percent of all primary voters in New Hampshire took Democratic ballots.

Barack Obama ought not worry about the percentage of the vote he took in this year's New Hampshire Democratic primary. It was sufficient.

But the president and his campaign aides should be paying attention to the evidence of an enthusiasm gap when it comes to voting in the Democratic primary of will be a battleground state this fall. And they should be asking themselves whether that gap in just a New Hampshire concern, or if might be a problem in other battleground states where Obama may not have much margin for error.
 I'm not lifting a finger to help Obama in 2012, especially with new reports coming out of Afghanistan about the level of torture still being performed routinely by Americans at the Bagram black sites.  How can one donate to or vote for somebody who should be impeached and sent to the Hague?

I'd call that "an enthusiasm gap."