- Today in world’s smallest violin/if it works, let’s go for it.
- The drone program has killed more people than who died on 9/11. Thanks, Obama!
- Me at Antiwar: ‘The Nonsense of War’
- Me at Rare: ‘On marijuana, Obama is a huge hypocrite’
- On March 30, I was on The Bob Zadek Show to talk about the war on drugs and private prisons.
- A Liberty.me LIVE spreecast where I chat with Sheldon Richman on ‘The Poison Called Nationalism.’
- And the slightly less polished Sheldon Richman and I talk Iran one. (Also my mic is too loud at the start. Lo siento.)
- 1) What the hell happened to this Salon? 2) What the hell happened to this Christopher Hitchens?
- Let’s take a break from antiwar talk to note that I would totally go to this if I could. Dunkirk little ships! The internet claims that Sundowner will be there. Sundowner being the yacht of Charles Lightoller, the surviving senior officer on the Titanic. Lightoller was told they were taken his boat for the evacuation, and he was all, nah, I’m taking it. So he went over, grabbed 160 fellas, and came back. One of the last adventures in a long life of them. Seriously, somebody make a BBC series about his life. Please. I can’t. I’m not British enough.
- Apropos of the above, I totally wrote Titanic fanfiction when I was 19. Except it was HISTORICAL. And I only did it twice.
- Yep. I had some excellent talks while smoking — or standing next to– M.R. and K.H. in Reason days. (But then, that wouldn’t have been so if smoking were still allowed in buildings!)
- This is a very lazy response to the conspiracy theorists who wonder why/how the BBC reported the fall of Building 7 20 minutes before it happened. But the comments are amazing. I might have missed one or two, but it appears that every single comment is by a truther. Every one.
- Still, I am not #readyforhillary
- Here is a great twitter essay, as they call it. It’s short, but should be in a blog somewhere.
- Apparently Sam Quinn used to have a moderately (for alt country, etc.) successful band called the Everybodyfields. I thought he was just the amazing maker of a live tape that S.T. and I listened to all the way to Nashville from Richmond, and back which includes the most stunningly slide guitar-filled, beautiful cover of the “Juicy Fruit” song you could possibly imagine. But, uh, this song is also on that tape.
- The Milk Carton Kids are a band I have seen twice, technically. They opened for the Lumineers who were opening for Old Crow Medicine Show, and I saw all three bands for a two night stand at DC’s 9:30 club in 2012. The Milk Carton Kids are definitely bigger fish now. They are a little too pretty and slow sometimes, but they’re really good. And if 12-year-old me had known that a duo that sounds this Simon and Garfunkel-ish was coming along, she would have rested easier.
- “You call me up again/just to break me like a promise/So casually cruel/in the name of being honest” is T-Swift lyrics at their finest. This is a solid power ballad, or whatever it is. I like the reckless mixture of cliches and legitimately good lines.
- Pokey LaFarge has written a hell of an earworm for his new album (due out later this month). I am excited to see him on the 30th! And to dance. It’s impossible not to with him playing.
It’s pretty pathetic when a tin-pot lapsed Commie KBG thug like Vladimir Putin is smarter about the Middle East than America’s foreign policy “experts.”
A year ago Putin warned the Obama administration about the folly of intervening in Syria on the side of the rebels.
We (i.e., Obama) chickened out/smartened up and did not send troops to Syria to dethrone the tin-pot thug Assad. We had already turned the Middle East into a bigger political hellhole than it already was by going into Iraq in 2003.
A strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism. It could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further destabilize the Middle East and North Africa. It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance.
Obviously, real bad shit was happening in Syria and it would have kept happening with or without inserting U.S. men and planes.
But as Putin’s ghostwriter said, “Syria is not witnessing a battle for democracy, but an armed conflict between government and opposition in a multi-religious country.”
Putin correctly/sensibly/realistically said that Assad, though a major league monster, was a stabilizing force who was preferable to the religious fanatics who’d replace him. He also pointed out that the rebel cause in Syria was attracting Islamist zealots/morons from the West.
Mercenaries from Arab countries fighting there, and hundreds of militants from Western countries and even Russia, are an issue of our deep concern. Might they not return to our countries with experience acquired in Syria?
It really is depressing how stupid American foreign policy-makers have been since President Woody Wilson came up with the idea that America should use its guns, money and soldiers to force Western-style democracy on all nations.
Our great leaders never learn about the folly and inevitable failures and (always predictable) unintended consequences of sending armed missionaries to take over bad countries and make them good.
Guess who was right all along about the folly of going to war in Iraq?
That is, not counting Pat Buchanan, 156 members of Congress (seven brave Republicans) and thousands of others who opposed or voted against the Bush administration’s war plans for a multitude of good moral, principled, pragmatic, partisan or personal reasons.
The damn French were right. So was a nobody from the American Heartland.
On Feb. 14, 2003, as President Bush and his neocon dream team geared up to take down Saddam, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin made a vain attempt to cool Bush’s pre-emptive jets.
De Villepin sounded pretty sensible about Iraq, not to mention prescient.
The “premature recourse to the military option,” he began, might appear to be the “swiftest” way to strip evil Saddam of the weapons of mass destruction.
But “let us not forget that having won the war, one has to build peace. Let us not delude ourselves; this will be long and difficult because it will be necessary to preserve Iraq’s unity and restore stability in a lasting way in a country and region harshly affected by the intrusion of force.”
Nine months later, as Iraq began its spiral into bloody chaos, De Villepin offered this unheard advice to America on CNN: “Don’t believe that you are going to solve Iraq because you are going to send more troops or more money.”
America had plenty of its own anti-war Cassandras who predicted the many bad things that invariably go wrong when you send armies to occupy, democratize and police a foreign land. They were all ignored, ridiculed or slurred for being cowards, just like the surrendering French.
One of the sharpest-eyed predictors who warned America’s Interventionist Industrial Complex to stay out of the Middle East came in 2002 from some unknown state senator from Middle America, where American non-interventionism used to be a religious tenet.
“I don’t oppose all wars,” the nobody said in a speech no one heard as the Bushies rattled their sabers and eyed Iraq.
What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.
The nobody droned on.
Even a successful war against Iraq, “will require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences.” Among other accurate things, the nobody added it also would “strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaida.”
That wise counsel, of course, came in English from Illinois state senator Barack Obama. But even he didn’t listen to himself.
According to investigative journalists Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill—writing today in their shiny new online publication, the Intercept—the NSA locates targets for drone strikes by using metadata and tracking the coordinates of cards and cellphones. The article goes on to note that using these sources instead of intelligence gathered from humans on the ground makes it more likely that these strikes will kill innocent people.
Scahill and Greenwald based their report on documents released by Edward Snowden, as well as former Air Force drone operator Brandon Bryant, who’s now a critic of drone strikes, and another former drone operator employed by the military’s Joint Special Operations Command, who says he worked with the NSA. According to the Intercept piece, some targets are aware they are being tracked and will switch cell phones or SIM cards to confuse their targeters. Others, less savvy, have cluelessly given their phones to family members, which leads to a Hellfire missile hitting someone, though not necessarily a terrorist.
The rest, and Monday’s Bad Cop Blotter items here
In a New Yorker profile published this month, President Obama admitted that marijuana was not that bad and the enforcement of anti-weed laws was skewed against minorities. Similarly, on Thursday Texas Governor Rick Perry voiced his support for decriminalizing marijuana and letting states craft drug laws free of federal intervention. On January 16, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he had changed his mind and that medical marijuana was a fine thing after all. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who was trying to drown his state’s medical marijuana program in the bathtub not three months ago, spent part of his inaugural address delivered on January 21promising to end the war on drugs. New York Senator Chuck Schumer just said on MSNBC that states should be allowed to “experiment” with legalization. What the hell is happening? How did the war on drugs go from a fringe issue five or six years ago to this current race to out-chill your political competitors when it comes to weed policy? It’s hard to know for sure, but it seems like Americans as a whole have decided that marijuana should be legal (or at least partially legal), while our leaders’ views have lagged behind. Now we’ve reached a tipping point where it’s safe for elected officials to embrace an end to prohibition—politicians’ minds aren’t changing, but poll numbers are.
The rest of the crankiness, along with bad cops of the week, over here
- Chris Christie, Harry Reid, and Obama — all of whom have drug war blood on their hands by nature of their office — suddenly noticed it might not be so good this week. Like Obama on gay marriage, the president getting it right on this extremely important issue is good. You get points.But you shouldn’t get points for bravery. To paraphrase John Stossel, these folks see the legalization parade happening, and they want to jump out in front and pretend they’re leading. They’re not.
- Since it’s finally not political suicide to mention marijuana isn’t so bad, but the drug war might just be, and since we might get federal legalization in the next few years, we should all begin harping on the vitally important fact that thousands of people in prison over drug charges do not deserve to be there.
- Last week’s Kelly Thomas protests included this confrontation between a protester and a reporter. In short, assault on reporter is actually protester blocks cameras, reporter shoves protester,protester shoves back harder. None of this should be assault if you’re not a giant wuss.
- A livestreamer was also arrested at the protest.
- Reminder that a paramedic testified that he was told to treat minor scratches on Fullerton cops, even though Kelly Thomas was bloody and unconscious.
- Atlantic Cities’ Mike Riggs on the science of facial recognition. Don’t be terrified yet, be terrified in a few years.
- Buzzfeed’s Rosie Gray on “How Dennnis Rodman Got to North Korea”
- Reason TV’s Jim Epstein (writing in the Daily Beast): “Inside the Port Authority, the Corrupt Powerhouse Behind Christie’s Bridgegate Scandal”
- Guy wearing Google Glass in movie theater is detained by Homeland Security for suspected piracy. He wasn’t filming, but even if he was, the involvement of DHS is disturbing.
- DA says cops shooting at random trucks containing people who look nothing like Chris Dorner is “reasonable.”
- Disturbingly beautiful photos of atomic tests.
- I know above-ground nuclear testing was messed up (killed John Wayne!) but if you lived in Vegas and knew a mushroom cloud was going to happen, hell yes, I’d throw a party, too.
- Alex Wellerstein at the Nuclear Secrecy blog on using mushroom clouds out of context as art. Spoiler alert: he’s kind of uncomfortable about that.
- Dead woman was not secretly Lorraine Allison, the only first class child to die on the Titanic. I spent years on a Titanic message board and I somehow totally missed this hoax. BTW, the Titanic wasn’t secretly switched with the Olympic in some sort of insurance ruse either. And Anastasia definitely died with the rest of her family.
- The Atlantic on how The Twilight Zone is really about fear.
- And on people who thought the Beatles were rubbish. (It wasn’t just William F. Buckley Jr.)
And today’s video:
Hurray for the Alan Lomax archives.
As my esteemed older brother noted below, moderately famous actor and political wannabe Kal Penn — who should have stuck with being boring on House — recently tweeted his support of the New York City Police Department’s now-unconstitutional stop and frisk policy that disproportionately affects minorities. (People responding to Penn’s tweet seemed incredulous, at least. One suggested that Penn forgot the #snark hashtag. Penn responded with a slur against “activist judges” so clearly that’s a thing for Democrats to be mad about now.)
Joe forgot another important reason to loathe Penn — besides his inability to realize that brown people who aren’t famous actor friends of Obama may be getting the short end of the authority stick — his bullshit on the drug war. A man made famous for being the Cheech for a new generation also acted the sniveling weasel apologist for Obama the drug war war hypocrite.
As Mike Riggs wrote at Reason.com last September:
Actor Kal Penn and President Barack Obama were both raked over the coals yesterday for their collaboration on a campaign video teasing Penn’s upcoming appearance at the Democratic National Convention. In that video, Penn reprised his role as Kumar from the Harold and Kumar movies, and takes a phone call from Obama while stoned, watching cartoons, and eating junkfood. The subtle implication is that marijuana users are easily swayed, lazy idiots.
Reason, the Marijuana Policy Project, LEAP, and several others criticized Penn and Obama for the video, as Obama has utterly failed to live up to his promise to deprioritze federal prosections of medical marijuana.
In an interview with Chris Moody of Yahoo! News, Penn said
“I think that the president’s been pretty consistent with that. He’s not in favor of legalization, we should be open about something like that. But what the president has done is take a really smart look at the Department of Justice and said, given the fact that the federal government has limited resources, we should be allocating them toward violent criminals and not towards non-violent criminals. We can see that not just in things like marijuana but in things like immigration reform where he’s going after and deporting violent criminals and making sure that if you’re a Dream Act eligible student that you know that you can apply for your deferred status. Wherever the federal government has an appropriate role, I think the president’s been very consistent in that. That’s something that I think folks should know.”
Penn should have stuck to the world of fiction, because his political views lie entirely in that realm as well.
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