“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, May 10, 2015

Saudi Arabia’s attack on Yemen

This BBC report appeared five weeks ago, warning about what was happening in Yemen. Here is a personal eye witness account from NPR on an American Family’s escape from Yemen, a day ago:

We've brought you lots of stories about the Shia rebellion in Yemen. Here's the story of one American teenager and her family who are trying to get out of that war. We begin where our correspondent Gregory Warner met her, on a ferry boat.
GREGORY WARNER, BYLINE: The Amiri Red Sea steered into the port of Obock in Djibouti on Thursday morning having crossed the Gulf of Aden from Yemen the previous night. Usually a daytime touring boat, the vessel traveled at night to avoid coming under fire from Shia rebels. On the top level, the men. In the covered hall, women and girls in black headscarves. Of the nearly 200 refugees aboard, 23 are American, including 16-year-old Rhonia Aladashi from Dearborn, Mich.
RHONIA ALADASHI: This boat was awful. Like, it was shaking all the time because it's kind of cheap. They just gave us anything.
ABHA ALJAHMI: It's not cheap. It's 25,000.
WARNER: It's not cheap, says her mother, Abha Aljahmi. It's 25,000 rials for the 130-mile journey. That's a little over $100. But for her daughter, who's never seen a war up-close, this escape felt epic.
ALADASHI: We're like "Titanic." I was just going to open the - I was singing all the time.
WARNER: She spent most of the journey singing to herself songs from the movie "Titanic."
ALADASHI: I showed my sisters the film. That's why they got scared. I showed them in the Yemen.
WARNER: Oh, your sisters saw the "Titanic" movie?
ALADASHI: Yeah, so they thought - they're like, we're going to die like "Titanic." And you know, people were like throwing - it was funny - and scary.
WARNER: Her family's journey began in Sanaa, the capital, where they were visiting Rhonia's Yemeni father. When the rebels started bombing the city in late March, they fled to the village with relatives, but then her mom had to figure out how to get out of the country.
ALJAHMI: We went from villages to villages, from cities to city. And they had no electric, no place to stay.
WARNER: Aljahmi says she tried to get over the land border to Saudi Arabia - cheaper and safer than a sea passage. But they told her that she and her daughters were not allowed without a male escort. Her husband doesn't have an American passport. He couldn't go with them.
ALJAHMI: I asked Saudi Arabia. They said without a guy with me, I cannot go through.
WARNER: The Saudis sent her and her daughters back to the war zone. She's still furious. Aren't they are allies, she says? And Yemeni-Americans say they feel abandoned by America. While other countries have evacuated their citizens - Russia sent an army plane, India sent a navy vessel - the U.S. has declined to use its military to rescue its citizens. The State Department says it's been warning Americans for years not to go to Yemen. Rhonia remembers the day that the Russian evacuation plane arrived. It took one of her friends in the Koranic school where she's studying.
ALADASHI: She's a Russian and they came for her - airplane. I got so jealous that day.
WARNER: She was jealous because the bombing had resumed that day. But she says she can understand why the U.S. says a rescue is too risky. The rebels are deeply anti-American.
ALADASHI: So we even get scared to - if they're going to see our passports. So we hide them all the time. You know, we can get killed, that we're American citizens.
WARNER: From here, the way home to Michigan should be easier. The U.S. has more than doubled its consular staff in Djibouti to deal with the exodus of hundreds of American citizens, so long as they can find their own way to escape. Gregory Warner, NPR News, Djibouti.


Sectarian power grab tears Yemen apart

An aerial view of Aden city centre in southern Yemen on 22 November, 2010
Yemen was called 'Happy Arabia' by the Romans

The Romans had a name for Yemen.
They called it Arabia Felix - Happy Arabia - because of its lush, rain-fed mountain scenery. 
Today that epithet sounds tragically inappropriate. 
Already the poorest country in the Middle East, wracked by soaring unemployment, dwindling oil and water reserves and home to the most dangerous branch of al-Qaeda, now Yemen is being torn apart by war of many sides. 
The Saudi-led air strikes began last month, raining down precision-guided missiles on a rebel group called the Houthis who swept down from their mountain stronghold in the far north six months ago, taking town after town, and pushing out the UN-recognised President Hadi.
That alarmed the Saudis and the other Gulf Arab states, especially as they suspect the hand of Iran as being behind the Houthis' spectacular blitzkrieg. 
How else, Saudis keep saying to me, could an impoverished group of tribesmen get the training, the weapons and the money to take over half the country? 
There's a sectarian angle here too. The Houthi rebels are Zaidi Shias, representing about a third of the population. The Saudi rulers are suspicious of Shias, many of whom look to Iran for spiritual leadership. 
Saudi Arabia is a predominately Sunni Muslim country and the Saudis are starting to think they're getting encircled by proxies of Iran wherever they look: in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and now Yemen.

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh gives a speech during a mass rally in the city of Dhamar, 100km south of the capital Sanaa, 20 September 1999
Ali Abdullah Saleh ruled first North Yemen, then a unified Yemen, for 35 years

Enough, they said, drawing a line in the sand. At a secret summit in a Saudi palace last month they threw together a 10-nation coalition in a belated and possibly doomed Gulf Arab attempt to turn back the Houthi takeover of Yemen and restore their ally to power.

Change of presidents

But in fact the Houthis largely owe their military success to someone much closer to home. They've formed an alliance of convenience, a sort of pact with the devil, with the very man who tried to bomb them out of existence five years ago. 
Ali Abdullah Saleh ruled first North Yemen, then a unified Yemen, for 35 years, until he was forced out of power by the Arab Spring protests.
He refused to believe that Yemen was better off without him. So he set about wrecking the peaceful political transition of power that Yemen's friends had worked so hard to engineer. 
Whole units of the Republican Guard remained loyal to him, bombs went off and towns were fought over. 
President Hadi who replaced him, an elderly, genial southerner, has been no match for Saleh's machinations. He must be rueing the day he agreed to let his predecessor stay on in Yemen. 
I interviewed Saleh once, in his fortified palace in the capital, Sanaa. It did not go well. 
Speaking in Arabic without a translator, I asked him what he wanted his legacy to be. 
The unification of North and South Yemen, of course, he replied, this was his crowning achievement. I thought I would soften him up by asking what benefits this had brought, but the way I said it in Arabic came out as 'well what was the point of that?'

Tribal gunmen loyal to the Houthi movement brandish their weapons on 26 March, 2015
Saudis ask how an impoverished group of tribesmen could have taken over half the country

What? he barked, glaring at me furiously, summoning his official translator, and looking pointedly at his watch. 

Effective fighters

As president, Saleh fought six short wars against the Houthis until it ended in an uneasy truce. Now he's cynically using them to destroy those who he sees as usurping his power. 
The Houthis are fierce, effective fighters, used to living on little in the black, volcanic mountains that straddle the Saudi-Yemeni border. 


When I visited them in their stronghold city of Saada my girlfriend and I were woken on our first morning by a burst of heavy machinegun fire from a pickup truck outside in the street. 
"It is celebration," said the man on reception, unfazed. Later we met a pair of brothers who took us out to the mountains to show off their skills with a Kalashnikov. 
Chewing the narcotic qat leaf and racing across the desert in a beaten-up old car, they thought it was the biggest joke to swap places behind the wheel while driving at 60 miles an hour. 
Their shooting was every bit as wild as their driving and before long a farmer emerged, shouting and cursing. "What the hell are you doing?" he said. "Bullets are coming down all around my sheep!" 

Sunni fanatics

I have no idea what dizzy heights those two rose to after that in Yemen's tribal hierarchy, but the Houthis and their allies are now in control of most of the important parts of Yemen, despite more than a week of airstrikes.
If those fail to dislodge them then the Saudis have not ruled out a ground invasion, but everyone knows that carries enormous risks of getting bogged down into a vulnerable army of occupation.

Tribal gunmen loyal to the Houthi movement brandish their weapons in the capital Sanaa on 1 April, 2015
Al-Qaeda seems to be the only force capable of confronting the rebels on the ground

Instead, the Houthis face a more dangerous foe - the jihadists of al-Qaeda. The jihadists are Sunni fanatics and they hate all Shias, including the Houthis. 
In Yemen, al-Qaeda seems to be the only force capable of confronting the rebels on the ground. 
On Thursday, their ranks were swollen by a jailbreak of dozens of convicted al-Qaeda fighters. Soon they will be rallying the Sunni tribes to join forces and fight the Houthis from the North. 
And all the while, the Americans look on from afar, in despair. 
Until just a few weeks ago they thought they had a reliable partner in President Hadi. President Obama even held up Yemen as a shining example of a counter-terrorism partnership. 
Now that partnership has crumbled to dust, and so too have Yemen's immediate hopes of emerging from this intractable nightmare.
How to listen to From Our Own Correspondent:
BBC Radio 4: Saturdays at 11:30 BST
BBC World Service: At weekends - see World Service programme schedule


  1. BBC, an hour ago:

    Rebels in Yemen say they will respond “positively" to a ceasefire offer by the Saudi-led coalition that has been carrying out air strikes against them.

    Saudi Arabia has offered a five-day truce starting on Tuesday, to allow the delivery of humanitarian supplies.
    The air raids have killed at least 1,400 people - mostly civilians - in recent weeks, the UN says.
    The Shia Houthi rebels from northern Yemen launched an offensive last year and now control much of the country.
    The Saudi-led coalition aims to restore the government of exiled President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi - who fled the rebel-controlled capital, Sanaa, in February.

    On Friday Saudi Arabia offered the five-day truce starting on Tuesday - but warned that it would respond to any violations.
    Early on Sunday, the rebels’ al-Massirah TV channel said they would "deal positively with any efforts, calls or measures that would help end the suffering".

    A spokesman for renegade Yemeni troops allied to the Houthis has already said they fully accepted the proposal.
    On 21 April the Saudi-led coalition announced an end to its bombing campaign in Yemen, but resumed air strikes within hours.

  2. What does all of this mean to ordinary Americans? More than they think. Our alliances with Saudi Arabia and Israel has been a personal disaster for most Americans. None more so than our basic civil rights. We are involved in a growing list of countries based on the predictions of Leslie Clark eight years ago of the Neocon plan to destabilize the ME. The current end game for Israel, The Saudis, The Republican Party and their Neocon masters is war with Iran. They just may succeed.

    Here are some of the “benefits”:

    1. One by one, several powerful Republican senators took to the floor Thursday morning to offer one of the most full-throated defenses of the National Security Agency's bulk collection of billions of U.S. phone records since Edward Snowden exposed the program nearly two years ago.

      The crux of their argument is unmistakable: The NSA's expansive surveillance powers need to remain intact and unchanged to keep Americans safe from potential terrorist threats—and if these powers existed before Sept. 11, 2001, they may have assisted in preventing the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

      But some of the talking points used by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his allies appear to rely heavily on assertions that are either dubious in their veracity or elide important contextual details.

      Here is a review of some of their declarations:

    2. Claim:

      “Not only have these tools kept us safe, there has not been a single incident, not one, of intentional abuse of them.”—McConnell

      McConnell may have been referring specifically to the phone records program here, but the NSA does not, as he implies, have a spotless record.

      According to a 2013 inspector general report, NSA analysts intentionally misused foreign surveillance authorities at least a dozen times in the past decade, sometimes for the purpose of spying on their romantic interests. So-called "loveint"—short for "love intelligence"—was revealed by the inspector general in response to a letter sent from Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, who this year renewed a call for the Justice Department to provide an update on how it was handling its investigation into the alleged willful abuses and to "appropriate accountability for those few who violate the trust placed in them."

      Additionally, a 2012 internal audit obtained by The Washington Post found that the NSA has violated privacy restrictions set in place for its surveillance programs thousands of times each year since 2008. The audit found that most—though not all—infractions were unintended.

    3. Claim: "The compromise legislation rolls us back to the same thing we were doing pre-9/11."—Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr

      The USA Freedom Act referenced by Burr would reauthorize three key surveillance provisions under the post-9/11 Patriot Act. It would usher in several reforms related to transparency and oversight, but it would keep those authorities intact. Section 215 of the law would no longer allow for the bulk collection of U.S. phone metadata by the NSA, but the authority—created after 9/11—would still exist.

      Claim: "The alternatives to the current program would not come close to offering the capabilities that now enable us to protect Americans."—Sen. Tom Cotton

      Cotton's claim does not align with the stance of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and then-Attorney General Eric Holder, who sent a letter to lawmakers last year expressing their support for an earlier iteration of the Freedom Act.

      "The intelligence community believes that your bill preserves essential intelligence-community capabilities; and the Department of Justice and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence support your bill and believe that it is a reasonable compromise that enhances privacy and civil liberties and increases transparency," the letter read. That version of the Freedom Act is widely considered more limiting of surveillance powers than the one being debated in Congress this year.

      Claim: "One alternative offered by opponents of this program is to have phone companies retain control of all call data and provide the NSA only the data responsive to searches phone companies would run on the NSA's behalf. This is not technologically feasible."—Cotton

      The reliance on phone companies to retain call data already occurs, as they are the ones who turn the records over to the government in bulk. Cotton, who voted for a pared down iteration of the Freedom Act last year when he served in the House, cites an 85-page study from the National Research Council to support this assertion. But the Arkansas freshman appears to be conflating its findings, which dealt with whether software could fully replace bulk collection, with what backers of the Freedom Act are attempting to do.

      "Although no software can fully replace bulk with targeted information collection, software can be developed to more effectively target collection and to control the usage of collected data," the report concluded. Cotton's reservations—that the new system may take longer than the old—have more to do with process than technological capabilities.

    4. Claim: "Here's the truth. If this program had existed before 9/11, it is quite possible that we would have known that the 9/11 hijacker Khalid al-Mihdhar was living in San Diego and making phone calls to an al-Qaida safehouse in Yemen. There's no guarantee we would have known. There's no way we can go back in time and prove it, but there is a probability that we would have known and there's a probability that American lives could have been saved." —Sen. Marco Rubio

      Rubio hedges his language several times with this claim, but the statement still omits important context. As reported by a 2013 ProPublica investigation, "U.S. intelligence agencies knew the identity of the hijacker in question, Saudi national Khalid al-Mihdhar, long before 9/11 and had the ability find him, but they failed to do so."

      Such missed opportunities to disrupt Midhar's activities, which were being monitored by at least as early as 1999, reflect a failure of information sharing among intelligence agencies, ProPublica notes, and are described in detail in the 9/11 Commission report.


  3. Here is unambiguously what the Republicans want:

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced a bill Tuesday night that would reauthorize a controversial surveillance authority of the Patriot Act until 2020

  4. There is no escaping this, unless we do what?

    1. Vote for Hillary !

      Leave the country ?

      Die, that will do it.

      I have to say, I haven't been impacted by the Patriot Act and I don't think anyone else here really has been, either.

      I don't like some of it but it certainly hasn't changed my lifestyle at all.

      But then I'm not a jihadi.

      Nor have you been arrested or interrogated for saying non sense like the Iranians are fighting for civilization.

    2. Robert "Draft Dodger" Peterson did advocate for shooting down government drones that could surveil the community.
      Neither is Robert "Draft Dodger" Peterson an honest man
      Nor has Robert "Draft Dodger" Peterson been arrested or interrogated for his written confession of grand theft.

      bob Thu May 27, 12:52:00 AM EDT

      But I did rip off the bank for $7500 hundred dollars, when I was on my knees, and fighting for my economic life, on my aunt's credit card. But that wasn't really stealing, just payback. …

  5. I will repeat, the US government’s obsession with Saudi Arabia and Israel has been a disaster for the US public. There is no other conclusion.

  6. "Idaho BobSun May 10, 12:57:00 AM EDT

    So, the footballs are deflated ?

    So what ?

    I don't see how this is to anyone's advantage as things would even out"

    Bob, This post of yours is typical of all the others - it demonstrates your lack information, incurious nature, and rush to the wrong conclusion. Deflategate Is not a new issue and its détails Much discussed in the media. Only the Patriots used the underinflated balls.

    1. How so, Noble Ash ? Cannot a deflated ball be intercepted more easily than an inflated ball ? Isn't that the point, that a deflated ball is easier to catch ?

      Yemen might have actually been happy back in Roman times, then came Islam and it's been the shits ever since, especially for the women.

    2. Besides, Noble Ash, as Quirk pointed out, I was obviously making an unconscious Freudian comparison between Q's deflated balls, and footballs.

    3. Robert "Draft Dodger" Peterson is famous for his slips.

      Jack Hawkins owns Robert "Draft Dodger" Peterson, the "Draft Dodger" told us so, himself.

      Freud would be so proud.

    4. Deflated balls are easier to throw and catch in the cold and rain and you ate worried about interceptions - an example if the intellect you bring to the table as well.

    5. There are more interceptions in the cold and rain than on normal days, Noble Ash.

      But, I let it pass, it kinda a dumb argument anyway.

  7. Saudi Arabia is a fundamentalist Islamist dictatorship, an ultra-wealthy oil economy, and perhaps the most powerful country in the Middle East.

    It is a very young country in a very old part of the world. It formed in 1932, when a tribal leader named Abdulaziz al-Saud conquered an area three times the size of Texas and then named it after himself. He and his first generation of sons have ruled Saudi Arabia ever since.

    The way that Abdulaziz al-Saud came to conquer and unify this country is crucial for understanding it: by allying with a fiercely conservative group of Islamist fundamentalists known as the Wahhabis.  Saudi Arabia became "the only modern nation-state created by jihad," as the journalist Steve Coll once put it.

    Saudi Arabia has allied itself with the other radical sectarians of the region, the Zionists of ISrael.
    Saudi Israeli alliance forged in blood

    Amos Gilad, the Israeli defence establishment’s point man with Mubarak’s Egypt and now director of the Israeli defence ministry's policy and political-military relations department told the academic James Dorsey recently:
    "Everything is underground, nothing is public. But our security cooperation with Egypt and the Gulf states is unique. This is the best period of security and diplomatic relations with the Arab.”

    Another vote for the propoition that the US foreign policy with regards to the Middle East is and has been a "Smashing success".
    Mr Obama could not have put the US government and its allies in ISrael, Egypt and Saudi Arabia in a better spot.
    Nor could anyone else.

    Compared to the disaster that the US garnered with the "Purple Fingers of Freedom" Campaign, Team Obama has rallied US proxies in the Middle East and got General Dynamics order book filled.
    Without spending more than a couple dozen US lives to get 'er done.

    1. Another vote for the proposition that the US foreign policy with regards to the Middle East is and has been a "Smashing Success".

  8. Israel is not the issue, not in the least.

    Israel, the ONLY true democratic nation in the middle east, is stable, democratic and free.

    Unlike most nations in the world. Some could argue even freer than America these days.

    Now the issue is and will be? The Great Sunni/Shia fight and OIL.

    As long as the islamic nations of the middle east have a valuable commodity called OIL it will cause murder and destruction.

    But not to worry, the Iranian Firster's here will point their bony fingers at Israel.

    Meanwhile, the moslems continue to cut each other's heads off at greater and greater numbers....

  9. For the past 46 years, all residents within greater Israel have lived under the same regime,
    which claims to be the sole legitimate political and military authority.

    The state controls the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, ruling over eight million rights-bearing citizens
    (75% of whom are Jews) and four million Palestinian subjects denied civil and political rights.

    Millions of Palestinian refugees
    (who were born in the territory or whose direct ancestors were)
    cannot set foot in their homeland, let alone determine its political future as citizens.

    How is the notion of apartheid relevant to this reality?

    The Israeli regime is based on an ethnic-religious distinction
    between Jewish insiders and Palestinian outsiders.

    It expands citizenship beyond its territory, potentially to all Jews regardless of their links to the country, and contracts citizenship within it:

    Palestinians in the occupied territories and refugees outside have no citizenship and cannot become Israeli citizens.

    The regime combines different modes of rule:
    civilian authority with democratic institutions within the Green Line (the pre-1967 boundaries), and military authority beyond it.

    In times of crisis, the military mode of rule spills over the line to apply to Palestinian citizens in Israel.
    At all times, the civilian mode of rule spills over the line to apply to Jewish settlers.

    The distinction between the two sides of the line is constantly eroding as a result,
    and norms and practices developed under the occupation filter back into Israel.

    Israel as a "Jewish democratic state" is "democratic" for Jews and "Jewish" for Arabs.

  10. From a Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve News Release

    U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Inherent Resolve officials reported today.

    Officials reported details of the latest strikes, which took place between 8 a.m. yesterday and 8 a.m. today, local time, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.

    Airstrikes in Syria

    Attack, bomber and fighter aircraft conducted 15 airstrikes in Syria:

    -- Near Hasakah, 13 airstrikes struck three large and seven small ISIL tactical units, destroying nine ISIL fighting positions, 10 ISIL vehicles, two ISIL heavy machine guns and an ISIL armored vehicle.

    -- Near Aleppo, one airstrike struck an ISIL building and an ISIL vehicle-borne improvised explosive device.

    -- Near Kobani, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL heavy machine gun.

    Airstrikes in Iraq

    Attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 13 airstrikes in Iraq, approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense:

    -- Near Asad, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.

    -- Near Beiji, four airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units, destroying three ISIL VBIEDS, two ISIL IED staging areas, an ISIL structure, an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL IED.

    -- Near Fallujah, four airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, an ISIL weapons facility, an ISIL IED staging facility, an ISIL VBIED facility, destroying an ISIL VBIED and an ISIL heavy machine gun.

    -- Near Mosul, one airstrike destroyed an ISIL excavator.

    -- Near Sinjar, one airstrike struck an ISIL mortar position.

    -- Near Tal Afar, two airstrikes destroyed an ISIL building, an ISIL excavator, an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL fighting position.

    The strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to eliminate the ISIL terrorist group and the threat they pose to Iraq, Syria, the region and the wider international community. The destruction of ISIL targets in Syria and Iraq further limits the terrorist group`s ability to project terror and conduct operations.

    Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Iraq include the United States, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Jordan, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Syria include the United States, Bahrain, Canada, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

    More Dead Than "Walking"

  11. Yesterday, California obtained 28% of its electricity from Renewables

    (Large Hydro Not included.)

    <a href="'>CaISO</a>

  12. .

    Vote for Hillary !


    I have to say, I haven't been impacted by the Patriot Act and I don't think anyone else here really has been, either.

    The voice of the ill-informed sheeple is once again heard in the land as he spouts his patriotic war cry, "Thinking is hard. It hurts. Besides, no skin off my nose."

    Bob, try getting informed.

    Vote for Hillary !

    As poster boy for the Idaho Sheeple and Mensa Society, you will no doubt believe Hillary when she claims she supports restrictions on the Freedom Act (if the polls support that, of course). To believe that would be to believe her when she says she wants to ban money from politics. Hillary is a bigger neocon than Obama. It was her who pushed Obama into the war on Libya. Her shitty ass grin as she proclaimed, "We came, we saw, he's dead" should tell you everything you need to know about Hillary.



    1. I have to say, I haven't been impacted by the Patriot Act and I don't think anyone else here really has been, either.

      How the hell do you know you haven't been effected by it? Everything about the program is declared 'secret'. Most of the public weren't even aware of it before Snowden bolted. I would wager most of them still aren't aware of any details and the bulk of those that do know anything about it are sheeple like you.

      But of course , whether a particular individual has been effected by it or not is not the issue. In broad terms, the issues are twofold, the chance for abuse and the lack of any proof that the programs are adequate for the task it is purportedly designed for.

      We have seen the militarization of our police force that was highlighted after Ferguson. However, that is minor compared to other sharing between the Feds and the state and the local police. There is a growing sharing of all types of information in the form of databases between these organizations, information that local officials couldn't legally collect on their own. However, the sheeple deny Reagan's warning the the scariest words in the English language is 'We're from the government and we are here to help.' Instead, they trust the government even in light of evidence such as Lois Lerner and the IRS. There are of course other examples of bureaucrats trampling on the rights of people, J. Edgar Hoover being one. But we don't have to go back that far to see how some of these guys think. The post Deuce put up showing Hayden saying that 911 changed everything, that the constitution has to be 'interpreted' differently, that he, an unelected bureaucrat in his position as head of NSA, has the power to make policy and take action without accountability to the people, the courts, the president, or the Congress if his actions are 'in his opinion' in the best interests of the US.

      However, though those in charge of our intelligence agencies swear to the media these programs have thwarted numerous terrorist attacks, over fifty were mentioned in congressional testimony, they have offered zero evidence that these collection programs were responsible for thwarting even one. And why haven't they provided that evidence? Well, national security, of course. All of the details are 'secret'. We can't reveal our methods (this after Snowden has already revealed their methods).

      Independent agencies and watchdog groups have reviewed the government claims. Courts have reviewed the government claims. Congressional committees have investigated the government claims. IG's within the agencies themselves have investigated the government claims. None of them have come up with any evidence that these collection programs have in themselves prevented any terrorist plots. Despite this, dolts like McConnell and Cotton and Cruz and Rubio would insist on continuing to spend billions on these programs even though they have now been ruled unconstitutional at the appeal level. But the sheeple merely "Baaahh" and head over to t-shirt night at the casino.

      We have seen the actual lack of effectiveness of these programs when they fail to prevent events like the underwear bomber over Detroit, the Times Square bomber, the Boston marathon bombers, even the latest events in Garland, Texas. Yet, guys like Clapper and Hayden and Brennan still insist these programs are needed, even after they have been found lying to Congress, even as with Brennan and Clapper they have admitted that they lied to Congress. These guys should have been fired and tried for lying to Congress instead of allowed to keep their positions.

      It is sad when Americans are willing to give up their basic rights to privacy in false hope that the government can protect them from all future terror attacks. It is even more sad when decisions like that are dependent up the political affililiations of those promoting the programs.


    2. Jesus, Quirk, I am JOKING when I say vote for Hillary.

      And no, I don't feel impacted by the Patriot Act now that phones calls aren't to be monitored.

      I don't think you have been, or anyone else around here, other than maybe rat'sass, if the government were doing its job.

      I do not know the true answer about attacks being stopped.

      Anyway I ain't a goin' to argue with you. Recall for me my stated position of agreeing with Q on spooking.

      I agree with Q on all matters pertaining to spooking, I said it right here.

      Even thought I don't see how I could have been personally affected by it, living a clean quiet life out here in the woods and fields.

      Unless my minor association with the Dreaded Tea Party put me on the radar screen. (Hadn't thought of that until this instant)

      Hmmmmm.....maybe I am a victim after all....

    3. I'll make a deal with you Quirk.

      You look after our right to privacy, I'll look after our right to free speech.

      Between the both of us, we will uphold the Constitution as it was meant to be.

    4. .

      And no, I don't feel impacted by the Patriot Act now that phones calls aren't to be monitored.

      Your post, which I responded to, was in reply to a stream of posts put up in response to Deuce's post talking about a bill McConnell is introducing which would extend the 215 program the appeals court has ruled was unconstitutional.

      If I misinterpreted your meaning or you weren't actually responding to the post on the McConnell bill, I apologize. However...

      I have to say, I haven't been impacted by the Patriot Act and I don't think anyone else here really has been, either.

      seems pretty clear.


  13. Two white Police killed by two blacks in Mississippi.

    Blue lives matter.

  14. >>>If the American press were not so lazy and parochial, they would understand that this was the third Islamic attack on free speech this year - first, Charlie Hebdo in Paris; second, the Lars Vilks event in Copenhagen; and now Texas. The difference in the corpse count is easily explained by a look at the video of the Paris gunmen, or the bullet holes they put in the police car. The French and Texan attackers supposedly had the same kind of weapons, although one should always treat American media reports with a high degree of skepticism when it comes to early identification of "assault weapons" and "AK47s". Nonetheless, from this reconstruction, it seems clear that the key distinction between the two attacks is that in Paris they knew how to use their guns and in Garland they didn't. So a very cool 60-year-old local cop with nothing but his service pistol advanced under fire and took down two guys whose heavier firepower managed only to put a bullet in an unarmed security guard's foot.

    The Charlie Hebdo killers had received effective training overseas - as thousands of ISIS recruits with western passports are getting right now. What if the Garland gunmen had been as good as the Paris gunmen? Surely that would be a more interesting question for the somnolent American media than whether some lippy Jewess was asking for it.

    As for the free-speech issues, some of us have been around this question for a long time. I wrote a whole book about it: Lights Out: Islam, Free Speech And The Twilight Of The West - well worth a read, and I'm happy to autograph it for you. On page 123 I write about Jyllands Posten and the original Motoons:

    The twelve cartoonists are now in hiding. According to the chairman of the Danish Liberal Party, a group of Muslim men showed up at a local school looking for the daughter of one of the artists.

    When that racket starts, no cartoonist or publisher or editor should have to stand alone. The minute there were multimillion-dollar bounties on those cartoonists' heads, The Times of London and Le Monde and The Washington Post and all the rest should have said, "This Thursday we're all publishing the cartoons. If you want to put bounties on all our heads, you'd better have a great credit line at the Bank of Jihad. If you want to kill us, you'll have to kill us all..."

    But it didn't happen.

    The only two magazines to stand in solidarity with the Danish cartoonists and republish the Motoons were Charlie Hebdo in Paris and my own magazine in Canada, Ezra Levant's Western Standard. Ezra wound up getting hauled up by some dimestore imam before the ignorant and thuggish Alberta "Human Rights" Commission whose leisurely money-no-object "investigation" consumed years of his life and all his savings. But he was more fortunate than our comrades at Charlie Hebdo: He's still alive.<<<

    "Stay Quiet and You'll Be Okay"

    by Mark Steyn
    The War on Free Speech
    May 9, 2015

    Mark Steyn is a wonderfully good writer.

    1. I'm not the only one that thinks so (Doug thought so too, by the way) -

      May 10, 2015
      Steyn on Garland, Texas terror attack
      By Thomas Lifson

      I am very sorry to learn from his latest column that Mark Steyn has been ill, but very glad that he has managed to find the energy to comment on the media and political response to the terror attack in Garland, Texas. As you would expect, he is witty and to the point. The title alone is gem: "Stay Quiet and You'll Be Okay"

      Read the whole thing, but here is an excerpt to whet the appetite:

      …a rough couple of weeks for free speech, culminating in the attempted mass murder in Garland, Texas.

      That's what it was, by the way - although you might have difficulty telling that from the news coverage. The Washington Post offered the celebrated headline "Event Organizer Offers No Apology After Thwarted Attack In Texas", while the Associated Press went with "Pamela Geller says she has no regrets about Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest that ended in 2 deaths"......

    2. >>As Steyn notes, once the thousands (!) of Western passport-owning jihadis currently receiving training by ISIS start returning home, it is going to get very ugly. In the meantime, let’s all pray for Mark’s speedy recovery.<<

    3. .

      I have always been a supporter of Steyn from the times he was writing for McCleans and was being sued in Canada because his writing wasn't PC enough. I support him on a number of issues especially on free-speech issues (not so much on foreign policy where he tends towards the neocon). However, when he equates what happened in Garland to Charlie Hebdo, he sees one thing, that both were attacked Islamic radicals over free speech issues. What he fails to understand (perhaps because of his illness), the same thing that the other dolts that are stomping around whining in their high dudgeon that Geller or Spencer can somehow be equated to the cartoonists of Hebdo, the 'actual' reason we fail to give the Geller, Spencer, Wilders of the world the love they demand, is that they are media whores out for their own aggrandizement.

      We only have to look at the name of the event, the AFDIJWMAECC. In speaking of it in a post you put up, Spencer could have referred to the event as the contest, or the cartoon contest, or the Muhammad cartoon contest, but he didn't. No, he had to spell it all out like an advertisement for for his and Geller's blogs, The American Defense Institute/Jihad Watch Muhammad Art Exhibition and Cartoon Contest.

      Good lord.


    4. So, Spencer flaps his gums just like you.

      It took you three or four dense paragraphs to finally get around to saying you'd be doing much the same as O'bozo is doing now in Iraq.

      >>they are media whores out for their own aggrandizement<<

      Non sense.

      I bet not 2% of the American people would recognize Geller, not 1% would recognize Spencer, and about 0.1 % would actually recognize Geert Wilders.

      Only about 20% can name the Vice-President, according to Waters World on Fox News.

      More people would recognize your name, Q, than Wilders, I'd bet.

      Now, feel proud, and puff up.

    5. >> he sees one thing, that both were attacked Islamic radicals over free speech issues<<

      BINGO !

      And that's the BIG THING.

      And you allow yourself to get sidetracked over some 'media whore' craparoo.

      jeez, you're impossible.

    6. .

      BINGO !

      And that's the BIG THING.

      That might be the big thing but it is something that no one is arguing about. It is a subject that is not in contention. Never has been. The problem is dolts like you that that can't walk and chew gum at the same time. You continue to confute the end result of the conference with the shootings with my opinions of Geller and her reasons for organizing the conference. They are separate issues but you refuse to see it, that or you are just incapable of seeing it.

      So in the future, why don't you keep posting your whiney little articles about how nobody loves her, poor baby. I will continue to post that she is a media whore seeking self-aggrandizement. I won't refer to you. Please don't refer to me.

      I bet not 2% of the American people would recognize Geller, not 1% would recognize Spencer, and about 0.1 % would actually recognize Geert Wilders.

      Of course not, why do you think they put on the contest? Why do you think they included their blog names in the name of the contest?

      Hint: refer back to comments on media whores and self-aggrandizement.


      What is in argument is the opinion of Geller et al.


    A Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) team spent last night in the city of Saada under intense bombing from the coalition led by Saudi Arabia. On Friday night the coalition gave an ultimatum to the population to leave the city and the surrounding area, as the whole province in the north of the country would become a military target.

    Teresa Sancristóval, MSF emergency coordinator, was part of the team who worked thourough the night at the Al Gumhury hospital in Saada. She said:

    “The bombing has been quite intense, more than twenty bombs have hit different buildings in the city, which has already suffered a huge level of destruction in recent weeks. There have been reports of 140 bombs being dropped on the city in a single day.

    "Even though the city is noticeably emptier, many people were not aware of the order of evacuation—it hasn't been heard by the entire population. There is no electricity, no working telephones and yesterday there was a huge storm... We fear that everyone wasn't aware of the ultimatum. Even at the hospital last night we had seven women giving birth, five of them had to flee because of the intensity of the airstrikes.

    "Some people were leaving the city in trucks, but many were leaving on foot as there is no fuel due to the blockade.

    "Although many people had already left the town, the population that remains in the city are very scared and worried. The market, storage facilities and government buildings have been destroyed and many civilians are suffering the consequences. At the hospital, where those severely injured are brought in, the majority of the staff works and lives in the hospital.

    “MSF’s team worked at the hospital throughout the night. Due to the bombing we had to move patients around the hospital, which is running out of safe places. The maternity ward is now also a pediatric and inpatient Ward for women.”

  16. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) would have authorized the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, putting the likely 2016 presidential contender on the same page as his brother George W. Bush, the president who actually did so.

    “I would have [authorized the invasion], and so would have Hillary Clinton, just to remind everybody. And so would almost everybody that was confronted with the intelligence they got,” Bush told Fox News' Megyn Kelly in an interview scheduled to air Monday.

    But he acknowledged that the "intelligence that everybody saw, that the world saw, was faulty," adding that after the invasion, the U.S. ought to have focused on securing and stabilizing Iraq in order to shield its people from sectarian violence.

    “By the way, guess who thinks that those mistakes took place as well? George W. Bush. Yes, I mean, so just for the news flash to the world, if they’re trying to find places where there’s big space between me and my brother, this might not be one of those," Jeb Bush said.

    1. You might have done so yourself, at the time.

      The majority in Congress voted for it, including many Democrats, including Hillary and Kerry, IIRC.

    2. Did Kerry say "I voted for it before I voted against it" or "I voted against it before I voted for it" ?

      Can't recall for sure.

  17. This might endear Ben Carson to Rufus......

    Ben Carson: Let’s slash Big Oil to pay for ethanol
    posted at 5:01 pm on May 10, 2015 by Jazz Shaw

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    Well this is certainly disappointing. With all of the newly emerging candidates running around the early primary and caucus states talking to anyone who will listen it gets difficult to keep track of them all. But there’s one bit of news out of Iowa from earlier this week which is definitely worth a quick rewind and a better look. Newly announced presidential contender Ben Carson was out talking to the Cornhuskers and the inevitable subjects of ethanol, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and subsidies for King Corn came up. The answer from the esteemed neurosurgeon was dismaying even compared to some of the other pandering we’ve seen previously.

    He started out on a fairly good note:

    Carson, in his first speech in the state as a candidate, was asked by a voter about the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the federal mandate that fuel refiners blend a certain volume of ethanol and biodiesel into their gasoline and diesel supplies.

    “I don’t particularly like the idea of government subsidies for anything because it interferes with the natural free market,” Carson said, according to The Des Moines Register.

    Not bad. Subsidies in general are detrimental. If he’d only stopped there. But sadly, he didn’t.

    “Therefore, I would probably be in favor of taking that $4 billion a year we spend on oil subsidies and using that in new fueling stations” for 30 percent ethanol blends, he added.

    How much wrong can you package into just one sentence? First of all… thirty percent blends? We’re fighting like mad to hold the line against E-15 as it is. I don’t even need to go back over all the reasons why yet again in this article. But let’s move on to the other half of that pitch.

    He’s suggesting cutting subsidies for domestic energy companies in the oil and gas industry. Not for everyone, mind you. Just them. And then reallocating that money away from fossil fuels and into ethanol processing. Just five seconds before that Carson had been claiming that he didn’t want anyone interfering with the free market, but now he’s saying to cherry pick one specific set of companies in the energy sector, remove a subsidy from them, and then redirect it to benefit the ethanol industry? It’s difficult to imagine a more egregious example of the government picking winners and losers, with the winners just happening to be in the first caucus state.

    Second, calling out the “subsidies for Big Oil” is the language of the Left, and as usual it’s complete horse hockey. As anyone who follows this topic knows, the subsidies received by oil and gas companies are not specific to them. They are precisely the same as subsidies given to almost anyone who sells anything, including Apple and Microsoft among so many others. In fact, you couldn’t just cancel the subsidies to the fossil fuel segment of the energy industry without rewriting the rules entirely just to exclude them. That’s a left wing, anti-energy talking point and Carson should be embarrassed to be saying it in front of an ostensibly conservative crowd.

    If you want to have a discussion about removing all subsidies across the board, then fine. We’re all ears. Carly Fiorina has proposed the same thing and it’s a worthy topic of debate. But when you start talking about just picking the pockets of oil and gas developers and using it to pay for ethanol, you may as well be running for the Democrat nomination. Poor showing, Dr. Carson.

    I like Ben and wish him well but think he's in over his head.