“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."

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

NSA Bulk Data Collection Curtailed by Senate

The USA Freedom Act, passed by Congress on Tuesday, marks the first piece of legislation to rein in surveillance powers in the wake of disclosures two years ago by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden and the national debate he catalyzed.
It comes as President Obama is winding down the nation’s wars overseas and as fears of another terrorist attack on the scale of Sept. 11, 2001, no longer galvanize and unify lawmakers in the same way they once did.
Today, Congress and the nation are much more divided about the proper balance between liberty and security. The inability of the Senate for weeks to resolve the issue, forcing the lapse of three surveillance powers at midnight Sunday, reflected the fissures between those who think that the terrorist threat is as potent as ever and those who believe that the government has overreached in its goal to keep Americans safe.
With the passage of the USA Freedom Act, though, Congress has answered Obama’s call to end the National Security Agency’s bulk storage of Americans’ phone data while preserving a way for the agency to obtain the records of terrorism suspects.
“The Senate’s passage of the USA Freedom Act today is a huge win for national security and the Fourth Amendment,” said Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), a lead sponsor of the bill.
At the same time, the legislation doesn’t end the surveillance debate or go as far as some members of the president’s liberal base or the libertarian right would like. Some lawmakers have vowed to press for further changes to protect citizens’ privacy and enhance transparency.
“The fight to protect Americans’ constitutional rights against government overreach is not over,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who has long called for an end to secret surveillance law, said in a statement. He added: “Everybody who has supported our fight for surveillance reform over the last two years is responsible for our victory today and I’m looking forward to working with a bipartisan coalition to push for greater reforms in the future.”


  1. President Barack Obama signed into law on Tuesday legislation passed by Congress earlier in the day reforming a government surveillance program that swept up millions of Americans' telephone records.


    After Republican Senator Rand Paul, a 2016 presidential candidate, blocked McConnell's efforts to keep them going temporarily, the Senate missed a deadline to extend legal authorities for certain data collection by the NSA and the FBI.


    With Obama's signing of the bill, the executive branch will have to apply to the surveillance court for reauthorization.

  2. We could go back to writing letters to one another, personal seal and sealed with wax.

    This should do something to revive the dying art of penmanship as well.

    1. The phone companies keep the records under this bill, I think, so I don't see much has changed.

  3. .

    I don't know what's in the Freedom Act other than the changes to Section 215 they have been centered on for the past couple days. Just watching these guys over the last couple of years, the hearings, the lies, reading up on the warrant (or lack of warrant) process, I am sure it doesn't go far enough and that the same short cuts and slight of hand will be used to get around any new restrictions.

    Watching these guys over the last couple days confirms my opinion of them, speaking one after another, insinuating that the American people, poor babes that they are, are naive and have let themselves be played by the unconscionable opposition who are selling lies and distortions in order to defeat passage of the Patriot Act, the one thing needed to guarantee God, country, and the American. If only the American public knew what we knew, if only we could tell them, but we can't or we would have to kill them all.

    Pedantic, arrogant, condescending, elitist pricks.



  4. Civil liberties groups have been mixed on the legislation, but the American Civil Liberties Union applauded the vote, with Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer calling it "a milestone."

    Snowden, now in Russia and reviled by lawmakers of both parties, addressed the vote via video link during an event hosted by Amnesty International. He said the legislation was historic because Americans are questioning long-held assumptions that intelligence officials always act in their best interest.

    "For the first time in recent history, we found that despite the claims of government, the public made the final decision and that is a radical change we should seize on, we should value and we should push forward," he said.

  5. .

    How to defeat the Islamic State, according to Republican presidential candidates

    The GOP Answer to ISIS

    Woof has 5 ex-generals on CNN discussing what should be done about ISIS. I wish I hadn't started watching it. If this is our military leadership it explains a lot.


  6. Replies
    1. What a pack of clueless fools. Not enough arms? Not enough US arms is the problem? The same crew that would lead us into a crusade against Syria and Iran.

  7. .

    David Brooks: "President Obama Has Run An Amazingly Scandal-Free Administration"; "He's Chosen People Who've Been Scandal-Free"


    Not that long ago you could see David Brooks on numerous news show panels. Now, not so much.

    Over time, people eventually catch on.


  8. No one expects Democratic politicians to be honest anymore.

    Some people must still expect it of journalists, though.

    They will soon catch on with Hillary coming to bat.

    1. As to your blather about Iraq no longer being Bush’s war:

      Vote for Bush III - Support the troops in Iraq War III

    2. Vote for Hilliary - Do the same

      She's part of the Democrat's Likud Force

  9. The political elite, the plutocratic class, and the national security state

    Since the Vietnam era, the urge to demobilize Americans, to put them out to pasture, to stop them from interfering in the running of “their” country has only grown stronger. When it comes to the military, for instance, the draft was sent to the trash bin of history in 1973 and most Americans were long ago demobilized by the arrival of an “all volunteer” force. So, today, you have no obligation whatsoever to be part of that military, to serve in what is no longer, in the traditional sense, a citizen’s army.

    If that military isn’t really yours, the wars it’s been fighting since the dawn of the twenty-first century haven’t been your wars either, nor — despite the responsibility the Constitution reserves to Congress for declaring war — have they been that body’s. Congress still has to pony up sums so extravagant for what’s charmingly called “defense” that the military budgets of the next seven countries combined don’t equal them. It has, however, little genuine say about what wars are fought. Even when, as with the Islamic State, it is offered the modest opportunity to pass a new authorization for a war already long underway, its representatives, like most Americans, now prefer to remain on the sidelines.

    In the meantime, the White House runs its own drone assassination campaigns via the CIA without anyone else’s say-so, while secretive paramilitaries and a secret military — the Special Operations forces — cocooned inside the larger military and growing like mad have changed the face of American war and it’s none of your business.

    Your role in all this is modest indeed: to pay as little attention as you want, endlessly thank the troops for their “service” when you run across them at airports or elsewhere, and leave it at that. Of course, given the sums, verging on a trillion dollars a year, that “we” now put into the U.S. military and related national security outfits, and given our endless wars, conflicts, raids, and secret operations, that military does at least provide some job opportunities, though it has its own version of job flight — to so-called private contractors (once known as “mercenaries”).

    And if you think it’s only the military from which you’ve been demobilized, think again. In these last years, so much of what the American government does has been swallowed up in a blanket of heavily enforced secrecy and fierce prosecutions of whistleblowers. An expanding national security state, accountable neither to you nor to the legal system, has proven eager indeed to surveil your life, but not be seen by you. In growing realms, that is, what once would have been called “the people’s business” is no longer your business.

    Your role, such as it is, is to get out of the way of the real players. As with the military, so with that national security state: Americans are to thank its officials and operatives for their service and otherwise, for their own “safety,” remain blissfully ignorant of whatever “their” government does, unless that government chooses to tell them about it.

  10. The Corruption Sweepstakes

    It hardly needs to be said that this isn’t the normal definition of a working democracy or, for that matter, of citizenship. Other than casting a vote every now and then, you are to know next to nothing about what your government does in your name. And speaking of that vote, you’re being sidelined there, too, and buried in an avalanche of money. Admittedly, in the media campaign season that now goes on non-stop from one election to the next, sooner or later you can still enter a polling place, if you care to, and cast your ballot. Otherwise step aside. These days, the first primary season or “Koch primary” is no longer for voters at all. Instead, prospective candidates audition for the blessings and cash of plutocrats.

    Just how the vast sums of money flooding into American politics do their dirty work may not matter that much. Specific contributions from the .01%, enacting their version of trickle-down politics, may not even elect specific candidates. What matters most is the deluge itself. These days in the American political system, money quite literally talks (especially on TV). Via ads, it screams. In the 2016 election season in which an unprecedented $10 billion is expected to be spent and just about every candidate will need his or her “sugar daddies,” the politicians will begin to resemble you; that is, they will find themselves dragging around previously unheard of debts to various plutocrats, industries, and deep pockets of every sort for the rest of their careers.

    Take just two recent examples of the new politics of money. As the New York Times reported recently, Florida Senator Marco Rubio has been supported by a single billionaire auto dealer, Norman Braman, for his entire political career. Braman hired him as a lawyer, hired his wife as a consultant to a family foundation, financed his legislative agenda, helped cover his salary at a local college, helped him right his personal finances and deal with his debt load, and is now about to put millions of dollars into his presidential campaign. Rubio, as the article indicates, has returned the favor. Though no one would write such a thing, this makes the senator quite literally a “kept” candidate. Other plutocrats like the Koch brothers and their network of investors, reputedly ready to drop almost a billion dollars into the 2016 campaign, have been more profligate in spreading around their support and favors.

    Now, jump across the political aisle and consider Hillary Clinton. As the Washington Post reported recently, she received a payment from eBay of $315,000 for a 20-minute talk at a “summit” that tech company sponsored on women in the workplace. Over the last 16 months, in fact, she and her husband have raked in more than $25 million for such talks. Hillary’s speeches pulled in $3.2 million from the tech sector alone, which she’s now pursuing for more direct contributions to her presidential campaign. “Less than two months [after the eBay summit],” the Post added, “Clinton was feted at the San Francisco Bay-area home of eBay chief executive John Donahoe and his wife, Eileen, for one of the first fundraisers supporting Clinton’s newly announced presidential campaign.”

    Say no more, right? I mean, it’s obvious that no one pays such sums for words (of all things!), not without ulterior motives. No deal has to have been made. No direct or even indirect exchange of promises is necessary. On the face of it, there is a word for such fees, as for Rubio’s relationship with Braman, as for the investor primaries of the new election season, as for so much else that involves “dark money” and goes to the heart of the present political process. It’s just not a word normally used about our politicians or our system, not by polite pundits and journalists. If we were in Kabul or Baghdad, not Washington or Los Angeles, we would know just what that word was and we wouldn’t hesitate to use it: corruption.


    1. The Un-Kept Americans

      We are, it seems, enmeshed in a new hybrid system, which fits the Constitution, the classic tripartite separation of powers, and the idea of democracy increasingly poorly. We have neither an adequate name for it, nor an adequate language to describe it. I’m talking here about the “real world” in which, at least in the old-fashioned American sense, you will no longer be a “citizen” of a functioning “democracy.”

      As that system, awash in plutocratic contributions to politics and taxpayer contributions to the military-industrial-homeland-security complex, morphs into something else, so will you, whether you realize it or not. Though never thought of as such, your debt is part of the same system. A society that programmatically trains its young into debt and calls that “higher education” is as corrupt as a wealthy country that won’t rebuild its own infrastructure. Talk about the hollowing out of America: you are it. No matter how substantial you may be in private, you are being impersonally emptied in what passes for the real world.

      If Marco Rubio and Hillary Clinton are kept politicians, then you are un-kept Americans. You are the ones that no one felt it worth giving money to, only taking money from.

      Being on the sidelines, it turns out, is an expensive affair. The question is: What are you going to do so that you aren’t there, and in debt, forever?

      Of course, there’s a simple answer to this question. Think of it as the Rubio Solution. You could each try to find your own billionaire. But given the numbers involved and what you don’t have to offer in return, that seems an unlikely option. Or, if you don’t want the version of higher education you experienced to morph into the rest of your lives, you — your generation, that is — could decide to stop thanking others for their “service” and leave those sidelines.

      They’re counting on you not to serve. They assume that you’ll just stay where you are and take it, while they fleece the rest of us. If instead you were to start thinking about how to head for the actual playing fields of America, I guarantee one thing: you’d screw them up royally.

      As you form into your processional now to exit this campus, let me just add: don’t underestimate the surprises the future has in store for all of us. The people who sidelined you aren’t half as good at what they do as they think they are. In so many ways, in fact, they’re a crew of bumblers. They have no more purchase on what the future holds than you do.

      You’ve proved in these years that you can get by despite lousy odds. You’ve lived a life to which no one (other than perhaps your hard-pressed parents) has made a contribution. You’re readier than you imagine to take our future into your hands and make something of it. You’re ready to become actual citizens of a future democracy. Go for broke!

      Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He is a fellow of the Nation Institute and runs His latest book is Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World. This graduation speech was given only on the campus of his mind.
      Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Nick Turse’s Tomorrow’s Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa, and Tom Engelhardt’s latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.
      Copyright 2015 Tom Engelhardt

    2. Going for Broke in the US Plutocratic Ponzi Scheme

    3. Note to TomDispatch Readers: I’ve long had a weakness for commencement addresses, or at least for what they might be rather than what they usually are, which is why, I suppose, I’ve written them relatively regularly myself. Since no actual college or graduating class has ever asked me to give such a speech, I’ve addressed the graduates of 2014 and other years from what I’ve called “the campus of my mind.” This year, given the increasing strangeness of our American world and the rising debt under which college students labor, I couldn’t resist doing so again. Tom]

      You’ve Been Scammed!

      Kept Politicians and Demobilized Americans in a System Without a Name
      By Tom Engelhardt

  11. is linked on our Alternate News Source Links.


  12. TRAVELING through an airport recently, I witnessed a now-commonplace ritual: military personnel getting head-of-the-line privileges in the boarding area. As we complete the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, one of the legacies of the longest war in our history is how the public has rallied to support those who served.

    While this can seem superficial at times, there is not a vet alive who would prefer the other extreme. My father served in Vietnam, and the welcome home his generation received was a national disgrace.

    Unfortunately, the modern-day lionization of veterans has itself gone too far. In Washington, this knee-jerk support has resulted in policy decisions that will hurt both vets and the larger public over time.

    Since 2000, the Department of Veterans Affairs has seen its budget nearly triple. Its programs run the gamut from burial benefits to job training. But among the biggest cost drivers is the disability-compensation system, which now approaches $60 billion per year.

    These disability payments are separate from medical costs associated with treating an injury, and are set at varying levels to compensate injured veterans for an assumed inability to work. The average payout has risen 60 percent (inflation-adjusted) since 2000, and the proportion of veterans receiving some form of compensation has nearly doubled.

    And while most vets who receive disability checks deserve them, one of the worst kept secrets among those seeking a disability rating is that the system can be beaten. Claim the right combination of symptoms, whether you are suffering or not, and there is a decent chance you can get a monthly disability check, tax free, for the rest of your life. There are even blogs out there to walk you through the process of claiming an injury that cannot be disproved.

    Sometimes it takes no effort at all. When I left the Navy in 2005, I filled out a form and got a medical exam in order to document a fractured shoulder that I had sustained in the line of duty. Soon after, I received a rating and my first monthly direct-deposit payment.

    Not feeling entitled to anything other than medical care, I attempted to discontinue the payment, but was told there was no process for doing so. Even my ability to hold a full-time job had no bearing on my disability rating.

    As a nation, we have no greater duty than to care for those who have fought our battles. But the current disability-compensation regime demands a closer look, not only for the sake of financial prudence but also to avoid creating a culture of dependency. A recent study by Mark Duggan, an economist at Stanford, linked rising disability payments to increased unemployment among veterans. The author suggests that such payments may reduce the “recipient’s propensity to work” because disability checks obviate the need for a job.

    Someday, once all the backlogs at Veterans Affairs are cleared, many will declare “mission accomplished.” But this is when the real problem will emerge. The annual cost of disability compensation is rising steadily, to $60 billion today from $20 billion in 2000. That curve continues to bend upward. The American public will move beyond superficial expressions of support and ask, “Is this bill too high?” They are the ones, after all, who are stuck with the tab. Payouts set to top $100 billion are going to draw attention.

    1. So how did we get here? Over the last 14 years of war, America has experienced a perfect storm of sympathy for veterans: a combination of unmet needs like vets waiting for care, an admiring but ultimately disengaged public and a political class with almost no military experience that feels it lacks the moral authority to say no.

      Today, it is taboo to question the honor of a veteran seeking compensation, and those who dare challenge the benefits system are deemed insufficiently patriotic.

      Policy updates can address some of this. Veterans Affairs should look harder at ways the system is being gamed, and abuses should be ended much as we go after phony workers’ compensation claims. There should be an option for those who want to document injuries to guarantee medical care, but who do not want a compensation payment. And we should double down on programs like job training that empower veterans as opposed to creating dependencies.

      We have come a long way since Vietnam, and for that we should be grateful. But over time, an act as simple as honoring service members at the airport can morph into something altogether dishonorable. As veterans, we should not demand more than we are owed. As a society, we should have the guts to push back when necessary, and elect leaders who can make tough choices about issues such as Veterans Affairs spending. Above all, we must guard against the day when the benefits veterans have rightfully earned become a source of resentment to those they have faithfully served.

    2. Ken Harbaugh, a former Navy pilot and mission commander, works for Team Rubicon, a veteran-based disaster-relief organization.

  13. Towering over one of Tehran’s main squares is a full-length, 40-foot-high photo of President Barack Obama alongside an ancient Persian warrior, both wearing spiffy pairs of shoes. “Be safe and comfortable. Walk with us,” reads the slogan underneath. It is an advertisement for an Iranian shoe company — and a sign of how fervently Iranians are hoping for a nuclear agreement that would ease economic sanctions and perhaps open a new era in relations with the United States.

    “People are very excited,” a woman who works near the giant Obama billboard told me. “We are all keeping our fingers crossed. Every time there is a negotiating session, we follow it and are happy that our foreign minister has had success.”

    My two-week trip across Iran last month revealed a remarkably pro-American population that is poised for change. Iranians are thrilled that their government has reached a preliminary agreement with outside powers and are eager for a final accord, which all parties say they want to conclude by June 30. The possibility that Iran could emerge from its pariah status and begin rebuilding its ties to the outside world has electrified the country.

    Anti-American slogans painted on the long-empty U.S. Embassy years ago are still visible, but those were the only ones I saw. At a hotel in Yazd, a “Down with USA” sign has disappeared since my last visit; by one account, it was “lost” when the lobby was renovated. The fact that a shoe company has chosen to use a beaming Obama to sell its product — and that the government allows it — reflects the rapidly changing social climate.

    Iran remains a theocracy in which citizens have only limited political rights. Most people I met said they would prefer a government that reflects the aspirations of a young and globalized population. Few, however, expect that the lifting of sanctions would produce a more democratic society anytime soon.

    “It will have an economic effect, and life will be easier, but there won’t be a political effect,” an art student predicted. Then, like almost every other Iranian I met, he hastened to tell me how much he admires the United States. “Let me tell you a fact. Iranian people love American people,” he said. “Those people you see on TV yelling ‘Death to America’ are paid to do that. Anyone who says he doesn’t like America is either working for the regime or afraid to say what he really believes.”

    Americans traveling in Iran are repeatedly surrounded by ecstatic Iranians. Many excitedly snap pictures of themselves with their new friends. Some literally jump and shriek with joy when they hear the words, “I come from America.” Reconciliation with the United States is their best hope for better lives, and they are acutely aware that a breakthrough may finally be at hand.


  14. Another presidential aspirant on the GOP Likuds Force;

    CABOT, Pa. - Rick Santorum didn’t have much nice to say about big business and the moneyed class last week when he announced his second campaign for the Republican presidential nomination at a factory here with a focus on the plight of working Americans.

    Multimillionaire investor Foster Friess later said he did not mind the populist focus.

    In 2012, Friess gave $2.1 million to a super PAC supporting Santorum. And he’s planning to back the former Pennsylvania senator again – with how much, he won’t say.

    “That’s a private question,” Friess, 75, said as he prowled the shop floor, towering over the crowd in a black Resistol cowboy hat.

    “I’m going to keep it pretty low-profile,” he said. “What I give this session is going to be very hard to find.”

    He did not elaborate. Some non-profit groups can spend on political campaigns without revealing their donors; super PACs can take unlimited contributions but must report contributors.

    “I don’t consider myself, to get to your question, ‘big money,’” Friess, of Jackson Hole, Wyo., said. “I came out of the Army with $800 in accumulated leave pay and a ‘62 Volkswagen. My whole life has been for the underdog because I’ve been an underdog.” He said he wants to “create a system that allows people to thrive, and to have liberty and not have limitations on what they can achieve.”

    Friess built one of the nation’s most successful asset-management firms and became a philanthropist, with a focus on Christian conservative causes.

    He praised the burgeoning GOP field of candidates as an excellent crop, but said he would be with Santorum as long as he’s in the race. “Right now I’m giving to Rick Santorum, period,” Friess said.

    But, noting the attendees at Santorum’s kickoff rally came from 32 states, Friess predicted the candidate would not need to rely solely on the generosity of mega-donors.

    “It’s a lot better if he moves his campaign ahead without the big money, because that’s the message,” Friess said.


    Thomas Fitzgerald
    Inquirer Politics Writer


  15. They LOVE Barack in Iran. They should, he is giving those that are pledged to genocide Israel all they need.

    With a guy like Barack around, the mullahs may even one dear day fulfill their desire of a world with the USA.

    When the people of Iran rose up and the gangsters mowed them down in the streets - remember Neda !! - Barack never lifted a finger, never said a world.

    The mullahs of Iran love Barack, and the mullahs are the only ones that can approve a giant picture of Hero Barack.

    "Iran is fighting for civilization"

    1. You forgot about the Bulldozin Chosen mowing down an American girl. That doesn’t count for much to an Israeli-firster.

    2. By the way -

      The mullahs are saying


      And Obama will be cool with it.

  16. Wonderful rainy stormy day again here yesterday, and last night.

    The crops are being made with this long lasting storm.

    Things are as they should be out this way.

  17. But Deuce, don't you have this wrong -

    GOP Likuds Force


    Shouldn't it be

    The Likud's GOP Force


    as we know that the Likud, which controls Israel, controls the US Congress.

    1. Which means that the Likud controls the US voters, of course.

    2. If you can't follow all of this, you are not alone.

      Only perhaps one out of a hundred is able to do so all the way through, to the very end.

    3. Just think "Cosmic Hoodwinking" and live with the knowledge, the shock, the awe.

  18. Time to turn to Fox News to find out what's going on in the world....

  19. " My father served in Vietnam, and the welcome home his generation received was a national disgrace."


    I agree with this.

    But you are about my age, late sixties something, are you not ?

    You father must be at least 20 years older than you.

    When did he serve ?


    Just askin'

    No evil intent.

  20. June 3, 2015
    A peaceful Draw contest in Iran
    By Ethel C. Fenig

    While professional victim Muslims in America are tying their turbans and hijabs into tight knots because underclass dhimmi infidels don't snap to it when they demand hygienic unopened soda cans or dare Draw Mohammed, (and more!), threatening lawsuits at best, attempted slaughter at worst, another Draw contest took place in Iran. But there was no public whining or violence because well...the contest was in the Muslim Shiite police state of Iran which also pays others to fight Sunni Muslims for them in Syria and Iraq and the drawees were the same scorned, evil Sunni Muslims of the Islamic State (Daesh in Arabic) and their equally evil backers.

    “We also want to denounce its supporters, the Westerners, the Zionists (Israel), and the United States.” (snip)

    The competition called on cartoonists to submit drawings that reveal the “true nature” of IS as “no human being can turn a blind eye to the crimes” of the Sunni extremists.

    Launched last week, the International Daesh Cartoon and Caricature Contest attracted 300 entries from more than 40 countries — including Australia, Brazil, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia and Morocco.

    “We want to show the true heinous nature of Daesh,” said Masoud Shojai-Tabatabai, the chairman of the organizing committee, using the Arabic acronym for IS.

    “IS bears the name of Islam but has no relationship with this religion, aiming to create (a) divide between Muslims, between Sunnis and Shiites,” he told AFP on the sidelines of the awards ceremony on Sunday night. (snip)

    The winning cartoons were revealing.

    One cartoon depicts Hillary Clinton, the former US secretary of state who is running for president, in a knitted sweater bearing the letters ISIS — another name for IS — made of skulls.

    A winning entry is of British Prime Minister David Cameron sporting a fox tail.

    One illustrator also used the competition to denounce the media and their alleged bias against IS atrocities in a drawing of a jihadist holding the pixelated head of a decapitated victim.

    The first prize went to a caricature of King Salman of Saudi Arabia, represented with the body of a rattlesnake. (snip)

    Second place went to a portrait of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed “caliph” of vast tracts of land the jihadists have conquered in Iraq and Syria. His beard is a thatch of blades dripping with blood, which is also splattered on the wall in the background that also features stars of David.

    (The six pointed Star of David symbols represent Israel, Jews and Judaism.)

    Tabatabai is also the organizer of a competition of cartoons on the Holocaust, launched in late January in response to the publication by Charlie Hebdo of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

    Mocking the horrors of the Holocaust in response to some mild cartoons in a small French publication...get the connection? No? No matter, the hate filled Iranians don't need one despite their claim they aren't racist.

    Busy torturing, beheading and slaughtering men, women and children who don't agree with them, the Islamic State's Sunni Muslims don't have time at the moment to conduct their own cartoon contest. So the continuing brutality between the two groups is enough of a peaceful protest.


  21. The Department of Commerce reported:

    The U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, through the Department of Commerce, announced today that the goods and services deficit was $40.9 billion in April, down $9.7 billion from $50.6 billion in March, revised. April exports were $189.9 billion, $1.9 billion more than March exports. April imports were $230.8 billion, $7.8 billion less than March imports.
    The trade deficit was smaller than the consensus forecast of $43.9 billion.

    The first graph shows the monthly U.S. exports and imports in dollars through April 2015.


    (Much) Better Than Expected

  22. Obama: “I am the Closest Thing to a Jew that Has Ever Sat in this Office"

    Oh my..

    What to say, what to say.....

    Maybe one of these days he'll claim to be a "Swedish/American" or a "Polish/American" or a "Native American" like Lizzy Warren....

    Who really knows ?

    What is it with this character ?

  23. He is not even really a Black/American.

    Dr. Ben Carson is a true Black American of the very best type, a true role model.

    Dr. Ben is still hanging in there in the Republican polling.

    Go, Ben !

  24. Let's face it - we are in a world of hurt -

    Harf: We’re totally “perplexed” why anyone’s worried about a 20% increase in Iranian nuclear material
    posted at 10:01 am on June 3, 2015 by Ed Morrissey

    The State Department’s got 99 problems with Iran, but a 20% increase in their nuclear stockpile ain’t among them, according to Marie Harf. Pressed by the media for an answer on a New York Times story about the sharp increase in material during the Obama administration’s negotiations, Harf pronounced herself and her team “perplexed” at the concern. “There are some real issues, serious ones that we have to resolve in these talks,” Harf responded yesterday, “but this just isn’t one of them.”

    See if this response fills you with confidence (via the Free Beacon):

    Our team read that story this morning and was quite frankly perplexed because the main contentions of it are just totally inaccurate.

    First, the notion in the story that western officials or U.S. officials involved were unaware of this issue or not understanding of what this entails is just absurd. Under the JPOA, Iran can fluctuate its numbers in terms of their stockpile. They can go up and down as long as at the end of fixed date they are back down below a number. So in the first two instances, the JPOA and the extension, that’s exactly what they’ve done. They’ve gone up, they’ve gone back down, and at the end of it, they’ve been where they need to be, and we fully expect that will happen again.

    I would also say that the notion that Iran is doing something they’re not supposed to be doing, again is jut not accurate. They are permitted to go up and down under the JPOA as long as at the end of it, again they’re where they need to be. And then finally I would say, and you may have more questions, the notion that this is some obstacle is just patently absurd. They are permitted, again, to do what they are doing here, and they’ve always gotten where they need to be and we expect they will again.

    And look, there are some real issues, serious ones that we have to resolve in these talks, and this just isn’t one of them. What matters is that they have committed already, and we said publicly to reducing their stockpile whenever this implemented 300 kilograms. The notion that this is some big issue of concern of negotiation is more manufacturing a controversy than actual reality. Everyone who read that story this morning was totally perplexed by it.

    So these are the things we’ve learned from Harf:

    The State Department considers concern over a 20% increase in Iranium nuclear stockpiles “absurd”
    The entire team is “totally perplexed” why the New York Times would report on it
    However, it’s apparently true, even while being “totally inaccurate,” because it’s “absurd” to think the State Department wasn’t already aware of it
    Harf keeps repeating herself over and over to convince people that it doesn’t matter

    A 20% increase in stockpiles during a negotiation isn’t “manufacturing a concern,” it’s a concern over manufacturing. Iran wants to manufacture nuclear weapons, and an increase in manufacturing the material needed to eventually make it should concern those who claim Iran is a trustworthy partner in negotiating an end to their weapons program. What Harf is doing is manufacturing a case that (a) the Iranians are misunderstood and (b) the State Department is smarter than everyone else, including the IAEA and the actual data.

    Harf herself refutes (b) in this rambling, substance-free whining about the New York Times story. This dismissive, flip attitude about Iranian nuclear stockpiles — hey, no worries, we like totes got this! — makes the arrogance and naïveté of this State Department and White House effort all too clear. Not exactly a confidence builder in smart power here.


  25. We over here in the right are assiduous in our pursuit of truth -

    >>> Hello Everyone,
    > I sent the video to my Egyptian girlfriend who translated the video for
    > me. It was all fake! Sorry now that I forwarded it on. They were talking
    > about the President of Iran. Not one world about Obama. I detest Obama but
    > I don't like untruths.


    >>>Does it matter ?

    Obozo and Iran are joined at the hip these days.

    Our country is being run by idiots. Obozo backed the Muslim Brotherhood in
    the recent events in Egypt, for God's sake.

    What does your girlfriend think of Egyptian President Sisi (may allah
    grant him long life and rule) ?

    I'd really be interested in knowing.


  26. Fox News is now reporting that George W. Bush has now surpassed Obama in new Favorability Poll.

    The Sleeping Giant of Albion is awakening.



      Blake seeks to provide the Golden String which can lead us through the labyrinth of our experience or his own poetry.
      Saturday, April 12, 2014
      British Museum
      Plate 19

      Descriptive Catalog, (E 543)

      "The giant Albion, was Patriarch of the Atlantic, he is the Atlas of the Greeks, one of those the Greeks called Titans. The stories of Arthur are the acts of Albion, applied to a Prince of the fifth century, who conquered Europe, and held the Empire of the world in the dark age, which the Romans never again recovered."

      The mythology which is formative for the British is the Legend of King Arthur. Kathleen Raine's chapter The Sleep of Albion, in her book Golgonooza: City of Imagination connects King Arthur and Blake's Albion.

      "Above all the Matter of Britain centres about a fifth-century, Romanized British king or warleader, King Arthur, his chivalry, his court at Camelot, his round table, and the mysterious sanctity, neither wholly Christian nor wholly pagan, of the Holy Grail and its Quest." (Page 161)

      "And finally there is the legend of Arthur's death-sleep, somewhere in a secret cave where, with his knights around him, he awaits the time when he will return to restore just rule to his kingdom and to repel its enemies." (Page 163)

      "The unfamiliar supernatural figures are those 'gods' or archetypal energies Blake discerned within the national collective life; and the central figure, whose inner drama is the theme of the whole drama is 'the Giant Albion', the collective person, so to speak, of the nation...Albion is the sleeping 'giant' (not a king, for the 'giant' is not one man but a nation) for whose re-awakening the 'four Zoas' and the other persons of the myth, labor." (Page 167)

      "Blake was versed in the Arthurian literature and traditions and it is plain that the Sleeping Arthur is the model of the majestic sleeping form of the Giant Albion." (Page 167)

      "But the 'sleep' of the Giant Albion is conceived by Blake not as the mere passage of time but as a state of apathy, of lowering of consciousness, of forgetfulness of higher things." (Page 171)

      "Albion's state of 'eternal death' therefore is seen not in terms of some comfortable remote myth but clearly and precisely identified as the materialist ideology to which the West has succumbed." (Page 175)

    2. >>>>>"But the 'sleep' of the Giant Albion is conceived by Blake not as the mere passage of time but as a state of apathy, of lowering of consciousness, of forgetfulness of higher things." (Page 171)

      "Albion's state of 'eternal death' therefore is seen not in terms of some comfortable remote myth but clearly and precisely identified as the materialist ideology to which the West has succumbed." <<<<<


  27. .

    In addition to most 'Corrupt and Scandal Ridden' administration in history, Obama has now been declared 'Least Transparent' administration in history.

    Obama Administration Hits Another Grim Record on Lack of Government Transparency


    1. Hmmmmm -

      Is it possible that Obama was not born in Kenya but somewhere deep in THE DARK PART OF THE WEB that was mentioned here shortly ago ?

      Born of that unattributable deep mysterious unknown unknowable bowels of that something that is nothing ?

    2. Fluid of gender, father, mother, race, religion, background, ethics.....

    3. .

      You are saying he comes from the wrong side of the web?


  28. Job Creation Index at new high in May


  29. >>> Again… if you live long enough you begin to get the benefit of the doubt.<<<


    Guess who’s now more popular than Obama?
    posted at 2:41 pm on June 3, 2015 by Jazz Shaw

    Share on Facebook

    This has to be a particularly depressing day for the current President of the United States, assuming somebody bothers to bring a summary of the morning headlines out to him on the golf course. The latest set of approval ratings for all the living presidents has been released by CNN and the numbers for the leader of what’s left of the free world are not spectacular.

    Obama’s approval rating has suffered a similar blow.

    While it’s dropped since April, going from a near-even 48% approve to 47% disapprove split to a negative-tilting 52% disapprove to 45% approve, the rising disapproval ratings come across party lines, from both men and women, from whites and non-whites.

    Sad Obama

    The popularity of the president can swing up and down all the time with the next set of headlines and being underwater on his numbers is old hat to Barack Obama by now. But this is the part that’s really got to sting. (Emphasis added)

    Asked to rate their feelings about living former presidents, Americans pick Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush as the most popular of the bunch, with 64% holding a favorable view of each. Jimmy Carter notches a 56% favorability rating and George W. Bush cracks majority favorability with 52%. That’s his most positive rating since April 2005. His father’s favorability ratings have also climbed in the last year, from 58% last June to 64% now. Clinton and Carter have held steady since last year.

    1. Ouch. Back in 2008, Barack Obama was technically running against John McCain if you only look at the names on the ballot records. But in reality, he was running against the record of George W. Bush and it was a pretty sweet ride at the time. Bush’s approval ratings were in the 30s owing to a combination of factors ranging from the ongoing wars to the slow motion collapse of the economy. You can debate the seriousness of either of those issues and how much blame can fairly be affixed to the White House for each, but the fact is that when you’re in the Oval Office you take the rap for every iceberg the ship hits. Obama was the shiny, new, fun, hopey changey guy and Bush was the villain. In that sense, it was a walk in the park.

      Now the shoe is on the other foot and to see his own numbers surpassed by his previous nemesis has to be rather crushing. But I do have to wonder a bit about where the surge in W popularity is coming from. It’s a given that presidents enjoy something of a recovery when they leave office, mostly because once you’re retired you don’t really have the opportunity to make many major mistakes. Also, people tend to remember the good times and suppress the bad ones, so most presidents eventually glide up to at least slightly better numbers. But the country is largely engaged in foreign policy, ISIS and terrorism in general these days. Iraq is falling to pieces and Syria is already essentially gone. It seemed for a long time that the decision to invade Iraq would be the signature issue of Bush’s tenure and he would have to carry the “blame” for a war which even a significant number of Republicans (and their aspiring presidential candidates) are calling a mistake today. It’s a curious development in many ways.

      As far as the other presidents, there aren’t too many surprises. Bill Clinton has enjoyed high marks since he left office and none of the shenanigans involving his wife or his massive non-profit seem to be denting those numbers. And after all, who doesn’t love Bill? The guy is the life of the party.

      It was nice to see George H. W. Bush catching up with him in popularity. The base will likely never forgive him on the Read My Lips No New Taxes thing, but in other areas – particularly foreign policy – he’s rightly seen as a senior statesman and a generally successful world leader. How Jimmy Carter makes it to 56% is something of a mystery. I assume the only explanation for that is that a significant number of the people who had to live through those four years of hell are dead or dying off. Most younger folks today only know him for his charitable work with Habitat for Humanity and various disease fighting programs and economic development schemes in Africa. Again… if you live long enough you begin to get the benefit of the doubt.

      Maybe that will work for Barack Obama too. Who knows? A few decades from now all these details will begin to blur into the fog of history and he’ll just be in the books as the nation’s first black president. I wouldn’t bet against it.

  30. California is, presently, getting 31.4% of its electricity from Renewables*.

    *does not include large hydro


  31. Fox News is reporting that Assad in Syria is launching airstrikes in support of ISIS.

    If I heard that right -

    I think I best give up...

    I can no longer follow the scorecard.

    ISIS seems to be attacking some Kurdish area in Syria.

  32. Lincoln Chaffey, about to announce his run for Prez, went to horse shoeing school at Montana State University, then went shoeing for 7 years.

    This is a +.

    It's hard to find a politician these days that has actually worked at something needed.

    Starting out as a Republican, he went Independent, then Democrat...........The Deuce Drift, I call it.

    He was the only Republican to vote against the war to oust Saddam.

  33. The US has accused the Syrian government of providing air support to an advance by Islamic State militants against opposition groups north of Aleppo.

    Fighters opposing the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, have made the same claims since Sunday, when Isis began advancing towards the town of Azaz near the Turkish border.

    The seizure of Azaz, 20 miles north-west of Aleppo, would imperil the main opposition supply line into Syria’s biggest city, the rebel-held east of which has been besieged by government forces for more than two years.

    A post to a Twitter account used by the US embassy in Syria said late on Monday: “Reports indicate that the regime is making air strikes in support of [Isis’s] advance on Aleppo, aiding extremists against Syrian population.

    “We have long seen that the regime avoids Isis lines, in complete contradiction to the regime’s claims to be fighting Isis,” the embassy said in a separate tweet.

    Shit's gettin' cereal

    1. "Hasakeh" is very important to the liberation of Mosul.