“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Sunday, June 16, 2013

No questions asked: The US Press has no intellectual curiosity about the Obama claim of Syrian government using nerve gas.

Syria chemical weapons - no questions asked
Journalists silent about whether Obama administration has "proof" that Assad's regime used chemical weapons.
Last modified: 15 Jun 2013 01:04

I think there are two kinds of people in this world. You have to think back to find out which one you are, to a time when tiny desks seemed really big and very important.
When you are in elementary school you have the realisation, you are either the kind of person who always raises their hand as if stretching for the heavens, or you don't. I was never the kid who would experience physical pain to get the teacher's attention, but I turned into one today at the White House briefing.
One of President Barack Obama's most influential advisors, Ben Rhodes, was briefing the assembled media to talk about the President's upcoming trip to the G8 summit.
Of course, you might expect all of the questions would be about Syria and the announcement on Thursday that the United States would increase military aid to the Supreme Military Council. There were a few questions about student loan rates, tax avoidance, and other assorted non-pressing issues.
But there was one question that was never asked. I am so surprised about it, I just have to write this.
Chemical weapons
No one, not one person asked if the Obama administration would make public any of its "proof" that the Assad regime had used chemical weapons.
Think about that for a moment. An American administration is being allowed to say "trust us" on the issue of chemical weapons use and its consequences.
I'm not an expert, I don't know what they have or if it would prove what they say. What I'm wondering is if they should have to share something.
I think it takes on an added importance when you hear the scepticism from other countries and what seem to be flaws in the US explanation.
From the moment word first came out that some believed chemical weapons were used; President Barack Obama has consistently used the phrase, "chain of custody". This is what the President said on April 30th:
"And what we now have is evidence that chemical weapons have been used inside of Syria, but we don't know how they were used, when they were used, who used them. We don't have a chain of custody that establishes what exactly happened. And when I am making decisions about America's national security and the potential for taking additional action in response to chemical weapon use, I've got to make sure I've got the facts. That's what the American people would expect."
I listened intently to the President's aide today; you know what he didn't talk about – a "chain of custody". Instead of that, Rhodes basically said we know the Assad regime still controls the chemical weapons, we know they were used; therefore the Assad regime used chemical weapons. That doesn't seem to live up to the standard that the President set out, what he said the American people would expect, perhaps it just doesn't apply to the press.

There is another hole in this logic that should be questioned. Rhodes went on to say that the US can't say for certain it knows where all of the chemical weapons stock piles are. If they can't say that, how can they definitively say no one else could possibly have used chemical weapons? I think it is a good question that couldn't be answered, because it wasn't asked.

This is not to say people didn't die a horrible painful death from the use of a weapon most people worldwide rightfully fear. I don't know what happened, but I think I should know why the White House is so convinced it did especially when they start using "fuzzy phrases".

The allegations of chemical weapons being used and any kind of military response require a serious discussion, and questioning. I didn't get a chance to ask – but if you look in the way back of the room – you'll see my hand held high – I couldn't get the White House’s attention that way, maybe this will work instead – couldn't do that in grade school – we didn't have the internet.
Follow Al Jazeera's Patty Culhane on Twitter: @pattyculhane


  1. How are the fruits of our work looking in Iraq this morning?

    BAGHDAD — A string of nearly a dozen apparently coordinated bombs and a shooting killed at least 30 and wounded scores across Iraq on Sunday, extending a wave of violence that is raising fears of a return to widespread killing a decade after the U.S.-led invasion.

    Violence has spiked sharply in Iraq in recent months, with the death toll rising to levels not seen since 2008. Nearly 2,000 have been killed since the start of April.

    Most of the car bombs hit Shiite-majority areas and were the cause of most of the casualties, killing 26. The blasts hit half a dozen cities and towns in the south and center of the country.

    The blasts began when a parked car bomb went off early morning in the industrial area of the city of Kut, killing three people and wounding 14 others. That was followed by another car bomb outside the city targeted a gathering of construction workers that killed two and wounded 12, according to police.

    Kut is located 160 kilometers (100 miles) southeast of Baghdad.

  2. Anyway, we did save the world when we dismantled Saddam’s impressive arsenal of WMD.

  3. We do understand who the rebels and our new allies are, for sure right? John McCain is certain and he certainly determined to have no war left behind. Let’s see who are Arab friends, on the AQ side of the street, are helping.

    …The private funding of individual militias — some with extremist views — further complicates the task facing the Obama administration as it ventures into arming Syria’s rebels. With its decision to increase support for the Syrian opposition, Washington is seeking to influence a patchwork of militia groups with wildly different abilities and views about how Syria should be run after the war.

    The reluctance of Western governments to intervene over the past two years has allowed private donors to play an outsize role in shaping the Syrian conflict, officials say. From Persian Gulf cities hundreds of miles from the battlefield, wealthy patrons help decide which of Syria’s hundreds of rebel groups will receive money to pay salaries and buy weapons and supplies for the fight against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

    In practice, these donors overwhelmingly back Islamist groups whose ultraconservative views reflect their own, intelligence officials and analysts say.

    “Direct money from the gulf is super-empowering some of the jihadi groups,” said William McCants, a former adviser to the State Department and an expert on radical Islam. “With the United States holding back, there is a vacuum. And within this vacuum, private money is giving the jihadists more pull.”

  4. Two OOrahs there.

    One for American “can do” and another for our uncanny ability to judge the character and motives of people in the Middle East.

    After all, the attackers on 911 were Saudis and we did the logical thing and attacked and devastated Iraq. Our handy work still reverberating this morning through the smell of burnt human flesh and broken bodies.

  5. Now that we are on our way to be helpful in Aleppo, I wonder how things are going close to home. Some up close and personal stuff about US cities, such as, say Detroit. A domestic view of how we tidy things up:

    DETROIT (WWJ) – There’s still a 50-50 chance Detroit will file for bankruptcy.

    That’s according to Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, who has detailed a plan for the city’s financial future in a 134-page proposal to creditors.

    Orr on Friday sat down in a closed-door meeting with about 150 creditors, bond holders and unions to discuss the city’s fiscal situation, seeking concessions that would save Detroit millions of dollars in payments.

    Perhaps the most dramatic aspect of his plan: Orr said, starting now, there will be a moratorium on debt payments for all unsecured funded debt. Creditors are being asked to take about 10 cents on the dollar of what’s owed them. Underfunded pension claims would get less.

    This latest comes as Detroit continues to spend more money than it takes in as revenue. The city’s budget deficit could top $380 million by July 1, and Orr now estimates the city’s long-term debt at $20 billion.

  6. We hear Obama is going to spend 100 million to take the girls to Africa. just saying.

    1. Back to the homeland.


      On our dime.


    2. Homeland?

      Who smuggled that black baby into Hawaii, boobie?

      Name some names

      Or close down that line of anti US propaganda.

    3. Michelle said so.

      And, his former publisher, where he claimed for years he was Kenyan, because then it suited his political purposes.

      Get a clue, General Bunk.

      You can do it!


  7. When the White House announced the policy change on Syria, through deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes,Obama was more interested in a LGBT Pride Month celebration, a Father’s Day luncheon and a reception for the W.N.B.A. championship Indiana Fever basketball team.

  8. Giving weapons to scum to kill scum, so what if 100k of civilians get killed, over 55 million kids have been killed in the USA...

  9. Bring revolution to the world. Obama and company.

    Just read "The Naked Communist"

    1. The US revolution is spreading, 237 years worth of spreading a global revolution.
      Long before there was a thought of any Communists the citizens of the US have been spreading revolt and insurrection..

      We're still winning.

    2. Wow, this "desert rat" is a math wiz also.

      Will wonders ever cease!

  10. The list of communist goals contained in the book was read into the Congressional Record by U.S. Congressman Albert S. Herlong, Jr. of Florida, on January 10, 1963.[2]
    List of Communist goals[edit]

    The following is the list of Communist goals contained in The Naked Communist:[2] (Note: there is no such list in the original edition of the book.)
    U.S. acceptance of coexistence as the only alternative to atomic war.
    U.S. willingness to capitulate in preference to engaging in atomic war.
    Develop the illusion that total disarmament by the United States would be a demonstration of moral strength.
    Permit free trade between all nations regardless of Communist affiliation and regardless of whether or not items could be used for war.
    Extension of long-term loans to Russia and Soviet satellites.
    Provide American aid to all nations regardless of Communist domination.
    Grant recognition of Red China. Admission of Red China to the U.N.
    Set up East and West Germany as separate states in spite of Khrushchev's promise in 1955 to settle the German question by free elections under supervision of the U.N.
    Prolong the conferences to ban atomic tests because the United States has agreed to suspend tests as long as negotiations are in progress.
    Allow all Soviet satellites individual representation in the U.N.
    Promote the U.N. as the only hope for mankind. If its charter is rewritten, demand that it be set up as a one-world government with its own independent armed forces.
    Resist any attempt to outlaw the Communist Party.
    Do away with all loyalty oaths.
    Continue giving Russia access to the U.S. Patent Office.
    Capture one or both of the political parties in the United States.
    Use technical decisions of the courts to weaken basic American institutions by claiming their activities violate civil rights.
    Get control of the schools. Use them as transmission belts for socialism and current Communist propaganda. Soften the curriculum. Get control of teachers' associations. Put the party line in textbooks.
    Gain control of all student newspapers.
    Use student riots to foment public protests against programs or organizations which are under Communist attack.
    Infiltrate the press. Get control of book-review assignments, editorial writing, policymaking positions.


    1. Gain control of key positions in radio, TV, and motion pictures.
      Continue discrediting American culture by degrading all forms of artistic expression. An American Communist cell was told to "eliminate all good sculpture from parks and buildings, substitute shapeless, awkward and meaningless forms."
      Control art critics and directors of art museums.
      Eliminate all laws governing obscenity by calling them "censorship" and a violation of free speech and free press.
      Break down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio, and TV.
      Present homosexuality, degeneracy and promiscuity as "normal, natural, healthy."
      Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with "social" religion. Discredit the Bible and emphasize the need for intellectual maturity which does not need a "religious crutch."
      Eliminate prayer or any phase of religious expression in the schools on the ground that it violates the principle of "separation of church and state."
      Discredit the American Constitution by calling it inadequate, old-fashioned, out of step with modern needs, a hindrance to cooperation between nations on a worldwide basis.
      Discredit the American Founding Fathers. Present them as selfish aristocrats who had no concern for the "common man."
      Belittle all forms of American culture and discourage the teaching of American history on the ground that it was only a minor part of the "big picture." Give more emphasis to Russian history since the Communists took over.
      Support any socialist movement to give centralized control over any part of the culture—education, social agencies, welfare programs, mental health clinics, etc.
      Eliminate all laws or procedures which interfere with the operation of the Communist apparatus.
      Eliminate the House Committee on Un-American Activities.
      Discredit and eventually dismantle the FBI.
      Infiltrate and gain control of more unions.
      Infiltrate and gain control of big business.
      Transfer some of the powers of arrest from the police to social agencies. Treat all behavioral problems as psychiatric disorders which no one but psychiatrists can understand or treat.
      Dominate the psychiatric profession and use mental health laws as a means of gaining coercive control over those who oppose Communist goals.
      Discredit the family as an institution. Encourage promiscuity, masturbation and easy divorce.
      Emphasize the need to raise children away from the negative influence of parents. Attribute prejudices, mental blocks and retarding of children to suppressive influence of parents.
      Create the impression that violence and insurrection are legitimate aspects of the American tradition; that students and special-interest groups should rise up and use "united force" to solve economic, political or social problems.
      Overthrow all colonial governments before native populations are ready for self-government.
      Internationalize the Panama Canal.
      Repeal the Connally reservation so the United States cannot prevent the World Court from seizing jurisdiction over domestic problems. Give the World Court jurisdiction over nations and individuals alike.

  11. Chicago Tribune
    8:31 a.m. CDT, June 16, 2013

    Two dozen people were shot Saturday afternoon into Father's Day Sunday across the city, according to authorities.

    Of the 24 people shot, six died either at the crime scenes or at local hospitals. The youngest was 16. One of the men killed was an armed man shot by police after he raised a 9-millimeter handgun in their direction after bailing from a moving car, authorities said.

    The shootings stretched from 9400 S. Loomis Avenue on the South Side up to about North Avenue and Pulaski in the Hermosa neighborhood.

    Ah yes the fruit of gun control and lawlessness.

    Thanks Obama.

    1. If Obama had a son most all would have looked like him.

  12. Iran to send 4,000 troops to aid President Assad forces in Syria

    Thanks Obama

  13. Thanks Obama

  14. Anther idiot anoni,

    Thanks GW Bush

    Or should we thank Prescott?

    1. Do we thank GWB for leading us into that wonderful war in Iraq, or do we thank Obama for ending it?


    2. Bunk's comment makes no sense at all. It is not even decipherable.

      As usual. Like the third building being brought down by explosives.

      And Israel being an example of European colonialism in the mid east.


    3. We are ending it too soon. Having gone in we should be staying. This way it is all wasted effort, just like in Afghanistan where the women will soon be paying the big price.

      We have no real foreign policy at all.

      It is a total boondoggle.


    4. President Clinton’s Africa trip in 1998 cost taxpayers $42.8 million. George W. Bush’s two trips five and ten years later were likely more expensive.

      The Washington Post story didn’t say that Obama’s trip will cost $100 million, but that the trip could cost $60-100 million, and that the cost was based on similar African trips made in recent years, “Obama’s trip could cost the federal government $60 million to $100 million based on the costs of similar African trips in recent years, according to one person familiar with the journey, who was not authorized to speak for attribution.”

      President Obama hasn’t made any trips to Africa, except a 22 hour stopover in Ghana in 2009, so it is pretty clear that Secret Service is basing their cost estimate on the cost of the Bush trips. Since George W. Bush made two presidential trips to Africa, it is likely that he spent more money in today’s dollars as President Obama will on his trip.

      The reality is that presidential trips are expensive. It would be fair to be opposed to all of them, but the hypocrisy of only being outraged when certain presidents travel is unacceptable. George W. Bush appears to have had himself quite a little African spending spree, but apparently cost only matters when Barack Obama is the president who is doing the traveling.

    5. Wow, that’s a lot of trips to Africa. In 2007, Laura Bush also took her daughters with her, and they went on a safari. You know, the same kind of outing that President Obama just canceled.

      Probably around $60 Million

    6. You racist pricks are really starting to give me a sore ass.

    7. Ah, but Rufie, I have just adopted a Hindu niece, I asked, she said yes, she is so far above you intellectually I can't even say, she has to offer.

      She doesn't even have blue eyes.

      Fuck off motherfucker.




    9. Her SISTER you brain dead piece of crap is going to the University Of Illinois Medical School to become a DOCTOR while you and yours drink Budweiser all the day and piss of the back porch and moan and say how you could do so much better.



    10. Clinton gets blame for Iraq, just as much as Bush...

      But if we really want to be honest?

      Who made Iraq a construct of the west and put on the throne the King?

    11. Brown good

      Black bad


    12. My niece is helping as research assistant at the Max Planck Institute For Brain Research on the blind, while Rufus drinks himself into alcoholic blindness.

      Brain By Budweiser.


    13. That last was not me.

      AnonymousSun Jun 16, 04:50:00 PM EDT

      Brown good

      Black bad



    14. I say: "Spunk good, no spunk bad."


    15. Spunk on my face is absolutely the best!


    16. That's what Obama said the year he spent as a male prostitute....

  15. .

    You racist pricks are really starting to give me a sore ass.

    More projection from the asshole south. If you say something critical of a black guy you got's to be a racist. Right out of the Chris Matthews or Lawrence O'Donnell playbooks. Forget the 100 million or so who voted for the guy. It's not because of Libya, Obamacare, the economy, jobs, the widening income gap, gun control, Afghanistan, Syria, Benghazi, the IRS scandal, the AP scandal, the NSA and privacy concerns, signature drone strikes, the lack of accountabilty, the gutting of the Constitution, the secrecy, the lack of transparancy, the lies and the bullshit, the excuses, the support provided to terrorists, the false flags,, it's none of these things, if you disagree with Obama on anything you are a racist.

    A sore ass? I think you have us mixed up with your other friends.

    What a complete fucking moron.

    The same mental level as the fucking anonymous anonymi that keeps popping up here. A fucking brain fart.


    1. Thank you Quirk.

      Sincerely, bob

    2. Yeah, well show me where you bitched about Bush's trips, prick.

    3. And, your list doesn't make any sense, Quirk. I think you're the one that has his ass mixed up with his brain.

    4. .

      I wasn't around here when Clinton was president but I bitched about everything Bush did asshole. However, if you think I'm going back five years to search the archives to satisfy some bigoted asshole who is projecting you are full of shit.


    5. .

      You dumb shit, once again you miss the point.

      You might think the list doesn't make sense but there are plenty of people that have strong opinions on each one of them, opinions that are at variance with you and Obama, but in the end you don't argue the issues you fall back on the key tactic of you and your butt buddies on the left, whan all else fails call them racist.

      Makes me want to puke.


    6. I'll save you the search; No One on this site ever bitched about the Bush Family trips to Africa, or anywhere else.

      Kinda interesting, Quirk, how you came out howling, in spite of the fact that I never mentioned you in my comment about racist pricks.

    7. Well, before you start puking, why don't you read the comments on the thread. You, obviously haven't done that yet.

    8. Last time I checked when Bush offered Turkey 10 billion for a northern track into iraq the amount was screamed about.

      If fact obama said: On July 3, 2008 -- the day before Independence Day -- Barack Obama said that adding $4 trillion in debt was irresponsible and "unpatriotic."

      Obama: "The problem is, is that the way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt from $5 trillion for the first 42 presidents - #43 added $4 trillion by his lonesome, so that we now have over $9 trillion of debt that we are going to have to pay back -- $30,000 for every man, woman and child. That's irresponsible. It's unpatriotic."

      SO if that was the standard and we now owe over 16 trillion it shows NO LEADERSHIP to spend like your predecessor did.

      2 wrongs do not make a right.

      Obama's debt is now record breaking and he, if he was a good leader should set the example.

      But he just sucks.

  16. .

    I'll save you the search; No One on this site ever bitched about the Bush Family trips to Africa, or anywhere else.

    Are you saying "Trust me"?

    Kinda interesting, Quirk, how you came out howling, in spite of the fact that I never mentioned you in my comment about racist pricks.

    Then get specific, asshole. You've called me racist before. You didn't say "anonymous anonomy you racist prick". You said "you guys are..." Everytime I see someone throwing around the racist argument, I get pissed mainly because it is so lame.

    It's as bad as some of the other arguments we see around here, like trying to rationalize when Obama screws up on the basis that Bush was much worse. That's like excusing a guy for rape because at least he pulled out before he came.


    1. NO, I DID NOT say, "you guys are . . . "

      If you're going to use quotation marks, at least try to get it right.

    2. .

      Apologies and mea culpas. Let it be known that what Rufus actually said was "You racist pricks...


  17. .

    Speaking after a difficult meeting with Putin in Downing Street, David Cameron claimed both men were in agreement on the need to end the human catastrophe of the civil war. But there was little to suggest the two men made progress on how to convene a fresh Syrian peace conference in Geneva, let alone who should attend, or its agenda.

    In icy exchanges at a press conference, Putin said: "You will not deny that one does not really need to support the people who not only kill their enemies, but open up their bodies, eat their intestines in front of the public and cameras. Are these the people you want to support? Is it them who you want to supply with weapons? Then this probably has little relation to humanitarian values that have been preached in Europe for hundreds of years." front:network-front main-3 Main trailblock:Network front - main trailblock:Position3


  18. .

    The Russian Bear plays the game with FUKUS.

    The Russian leader, who arrived an hour late for the talks, said...

    That was with Cameron and what was it with Kerry, three hours?


  19. .

    I had to laugh. Today, Dick Cheney of all people was calling Snowden a traitor.


    1. What do you expect?

      This is the Cheney that shot his hunting buddie on a controlled hunt out in Wyoming.

      "Looked like a duck to me. O Hell, that's my friend!"