Monday, June 30, 2014

The Iraq Stain

This from Dr. Krugman  ---  lest we forget.

Please follow link to original

I don’t write much about Iraq and all that these days, but this report from James Risen brings back the horror of the whole thing. And I don’t just mean the fact that we were lied into war; that most of our media and policy elite rushed to join the bandwagon; that the venture led to awesome waste of lives and money.
No, Iraq was also a moral cesspit. Not only were we taken to war on false pretenses, it was clear that this was done in part for domestic political gain. The occupation was treated not as a solemn task on which the nation’s honor depended, but as an opportunity to reward cronies. And don’t forget the torture.
So in a way it’s not too surprising to learn that we didn’t just, incredibly, rely heavily on politically connected mercenaries, but that said mercenaries threatened violence against our own officials:
Just weeks before Blackwater guards fatally shot 17 civilians at Baghdad’s Nisour Square in 2007, the State Department began investigating the security contractor’s operations in Iraq. But the inquiry was abandoned after Blackwater’s top manager there issued a threat: “that he could kill” the government’s chief investigator and “no one could or would do anything about it as we were in Iraq,” according to department reports.
And guess what:
American Embassy officials in Baghdad sided with Blackwater rather than the State Department investigators as a dispute over the probe escalated in August 2007, the previously undisclosed documents show.
But it’s still shocking, and a reminder of just how deep the betrayal went.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Mass. SWAT teams claim they’re private companies and don’t have to tell you anything

No longer is it "Protect and Serve".  Today's police are too military, too removed from all us "civilians"  --  if they even think of us that way.  I'm afraid we are nothing but "suspects" or "skells" (I don't know if that term is still in use) to them.

It just ain't "Officer Friendly" any more  --  is it?

Please follow link to original

After the ACLU sent open records requests as part of its investigative report on police militarization, SWAT teams in Massachusetts claimed they were exempt because they were private corporations.
Some SWAT teams in the state operate as law enforcement councils, or LECs, which are funded by several police departments and overseen by an executive board largely made up of local police chiefs.
Member police departments pay annual membership dues to the LECs, which share technology and oversee crime scene investigators or other specialists.
Some of these LECs have also incorporated 501(c)(3) organizations, which they say exempts them from open records requests.
“Let’s be clear,” wrote Radley Balko for The Washington Post. “These agencies oversee police activities. They employ cops who carry guns, wear badges, collect paychecks provided by taxpayers and have the power to detain, arrest, injure, and kill. They operate SWAT teams, which conduct raids on private residences. And yet they say that because they’ve incorporated, they’re immune to Massachusetts open records laws. The state’s residents aren’t permitted to know how often the SWAT teams are used, what they’re used for, what sort of training they get or who they’re primarily used against.”
The ACLU reported earlier this week that about 240 of the 351 police departments in Massachusetts belong to an LEC, which are set up as corporations but are funded by local and federal taxpayer funds.
“Police departments and regional SWAT teams are public institutions, working with public money, meant to protect and serve the public’s interest,” the ACLU said in its report. “If these institutions do not maintain and make public comprehensive and comprehensible documents pertaining to their operations and tactics, the people cannot judge whether officials are acting appropriately or make needed policy changes when problems arise.”
The ACLU sued the North Eastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council, which has about 50 member agencies, saying the LEC used government grants and taxpayer funds to purchase its equipment.
“NEMLEC can’t have it both ways,” said ACLU attorney Jessie Rossman. “Either it is a public entity subject to public records laws, or what it is doing is illegal.”
The ACLU survey found that only 7 percent of SWAT missions involved incidents they were originally designed to handle – such as hostage situations or shootings – while 62 percent of their mission involved drug searches.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Jackie McLean - Lights Out

Jackie McLean-alto saxophone; Donald Byrd-trumpet; Elmo Hope-piano; Doug Watkins-bass; & Arthur Taylor-drums. 1956

I Fall In Love Too Easily - Jackie McLean

Jackie McLean(as), Cedar Walton(p), David Williams(b), Billy Higgins(ds).

Jackie McLean Quartet 1959 - I Remember You

Jackie McLean - Alto Sax
Walter Bishop Jr. - Piano
Jimmy Garrison - Bass
Art Taylor - Drums

Tina Brooks Quintet 1958 ~ Nutville

Lee Morgan - Trumpet
Tina Brooks - Tenor Sax
Sonny Clark - Piano
Doug Watkins - Bass
Art Blakey - Drums

Kenny Dorham feat. Jackie McLean 03 "Let's Face the Music and Dance"

Kenny Dorham (tp)
Jackie McLean (as)
Walter Bishop Jr. (p)
Leroy Vinnegar (b)
Art Taylor (ds)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Real Business Leaders Want to Save Capitalism

American business leaders want our republic to work.  It's the UN-AMERICAN oneswho seem to welcome our current course.

A few weeks ago I was visited in my office by the chairman of one of the country’s biggest high-tech firms who wanted to talk about the causes and consequences of widening inequality and the shrinking middle class, and what to do about it.
I asked him why he was concerned. “Because the American middle class is the core of our customer base,” he said. “If they can’t afford our products in the years ahead, we’re in deep trouble.”
I’m hearing the same refrain from a growing number of business leaders.
They see an economic recovery that’s bypassing most Americans. Median hourly and weekly pay dropped over the past year, adjusted for inflation.
Since the depths of the Great Recession in 2009, median real household income has fallen 4.4 percent, according to an analysis by Sentier Research.
These business leaders know the U.S. economy can’t get out of first gear as long as wages are declining. And their own businesses can’t succeed over the long term without a buoyant and growing middle class.
They also recognize a second danger.
Job frustrations are fueling a backlash against trade and immigration. Any hope for immigration reform is now dead in Congress, and further trade-opening agreements are similarly moribund. Yet the economy would be even worse if America secedes into isolationism.
Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, warned recently on “CBS This Morning” that income inequality is “destablilizing” the nation and is “responsible for the divisions in the country.” He went on to say that “too much of the GDP over the last generation has gone to too few of the people.”
Blankfein should know. He pulled in $23 million last year in salary and bonus, a 9.5 percent raise over the year before and his best payday since the Wall Street meltdown. This doesn’t make his point any less valid.
Several of business leaders are suggesting raising the minimum wage and increasing taxes on the wealthy.
Bill Gross, Chairman of Pimco, the largest bond-trading firm in the world, said this week that America needs policies that bring labor and capital back into balance, including a higher minimum wage and higher taxes on the rich.
Gross has noted that developed economies function best when income inequality is minimal.
Several months ago Gross urged his wealthy investors, who benefit the most from a capital-gains tax rate substantially lower than the tax on ordinary income, to support higher taxes on capital gains. “The era of taxing ‘capital’ at lower rates than ‘labor’ should now end,” he stated.
Similar proposals have come from billionaires Warren Buffett and Stanley Druckenmiller, founder of Duquesne Capital Management and one of the top performing hedge fund managers of the past three decades. Buffett has suggested the wealthy pay a minimum tax of 30 percent of their incomes.
The response from the denizens of the right has been predictable: If these gentlemen want to pay more taxes, there’s nothing stopping them.
Which misses the point. These business leaders are arguing for changes in the rules of the game that would make the game fairer for everyone. They acknowledge it’s now dangerously rigged in the favor of people like them.
They know the only way to save capitalism is to make it work for the majority rather than a smaller and smaller minority at the top.
In this respect they resemble the handful of business leaders in the Gilded Age who spearheaded the progressive reforms enacted in the first decade of the twentieth century, or those who joined with Franklin D. Roosevelt to create Social Security, a minimum wage, and the forty-hour workweek during the Depression.
Unfortunately, the voices of these forward-thinking business leaders are being drowned out by backward-lobbying groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that are organized to reflect the views of their lowest common denominator.
And by billionaires like Charles and David Koch, who harbor such deep-seated hatred for government they’re blind to the real dangers capitalism now faces.
Those dangers are a sinking middle class lacking the purchasing power to keep the economy going, and an American public losing faith that the current system will deliver for them and their kids.
America’s real business leaders understand unless or until the middle class regains its footing and its faith, capitalism remains vulnerable.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

"Iraq" Is Still Arabic for "Vietnam" by Ira Chernus

All I can say is NO COMMENT.

Follow link to original

When George W. Bush and the neocons launched their war in Iraq, critics coined the slogan, "'Iraq' is Arabic for 'Vietnam.'" The point was obvious: Another long quagmire of a war in an inhospitable foreign land would lead once again to nothing but death, suffering, and defeat for America.
That was back in 2003 and 2004, when the parallel was to the Vietnam war of 1965 - 1973.
To see why "Iraq" is still Arabic for "Vietnam" we have to turn the historical memory dial back just a few more years, to 1962 and 1963. That was when John F. Kennedy struggled with the same dilemma now facing Barack Obama: How much, if it all, should we get involved militarily to help a corrupt leader who stays in power by terrorizing his political enemies?
Here's what JFK told interviewers in September, 1963, about South Vietnam under President Ngo Dinh Diem: "I don't think ... unless a greater effort is made by the  Government to win popular support that the war can be won out there."
Here's what Barack Obama told reporters on June 13, 2014: "Iraq’s leaders have to demonstrate a willingness to make hard decisions and compromises on behalf of the Iraqi people in order to bring the country together. ... and account for the legitimate interests of all of Iraq’s communities, and to continue to build the capacity of an effective security force."
JFK: "In the final analysis it is their war. They are the ones who have to win it or lose it. We can help them, we can give them equipment, we can send our men out there as advisers, but they have to win it."
Obama: "We can’t do it for them. ...  The United States is not simply going to involve itself in a military action in the absence of a political plan by the Iraqis that gives us some assurance that they’re prepared to work together."
JFK balanced his calls for Diem to reform with what sounded like a promise that the South Vietnamese government would get U.S. aid no matter what it did or failed to do: "I don't agree with those who say we should withdraw.... This is a very important struggle even though it is far away. ... We also have to participate -- we may not like it -- in the defense of Asia."
Obama sounded a similar note: "Given the nature of these terrorists, it could pose a threat eventually to American interests as well. Iraq needs additional support to break the momentum of extremist groups and bolster the capabilities of Iraqi security forces. ...  They will have the support of the United States. ...  We have enormous interests there."
Just as Kennedy publicly denied that he contemplated any significant troop buildup, Obama insisted, "We will not be sending U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq." Yet JFK continued pouring "advisors" into Vietnam throughout his presidency, just as Obama promised that there would be "selective actions by our military ...  We have redoubled our efforts to help build more capable counterterrorism forces so that groups like ISIL can’t establish a safe haven. And we’ll continue that effort. "
Kennedy's warning that military aid depended on South Vietnamese government reform was not merely for public consumption. A year earlier he had sent Diem a private letter promising more money for Diem's army but adding a warning that the aid was "specifically conditioned up Vietnamese performance with respect to particular needed reforms" that would be "most effective to strengthen the vital ties of loyalty between the people of Free [i.e. South] Vietnam and their government."
Whether Obama has sent such a letter to Iraq's prime minister Nouri al-Maliki is anybody's guess.
There's another key difference. In his 1963 interviews JFK explained that Vietnam itself was not the crucial issue. It was more about the world's perception of America's power. Losing Vietnam would give "the impression that the wave of the future in southeast Asia was China and the Communists."
Obama has not come out and said anything quite like this. Yet he must be keenly aware that his critics at home -- and even some of his usual supporters -- are urging him to make sure the world knows that the U.S. still runs the show.
Just a week before Mosul fell to the ISIS/ISIL forces, liberal commentator Fareed Zakaria wrote that "the world today... rests on an order built by the United States that, since 1989, has not been challenged by any other major player." The big question, he said, is: "How to ensure that these conditions continue, even as new powers -- such as China -- rise and old ones -- such as Russia -- flex their muscles?" Now a new power is rising in the Middle East, and the question of preserving the world order is likely central to the conversation in the Oval Office.
Indeed another usual supporter of Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times, says that neocon Robert Kagan's recent article "Superpowers Don't Get to Retire" "struck a nerve in the White House" -- so much so that "the president even invited Mr. Kagan to lunch to compare world views." "Events in Iraq Open Door for Interventionist Revival," the Times' headline declared.
So Obama is stuck in much the same dilemma that faced Kennedy: feeling compelled, both by global geopolitical and domestic political concerns, to bolster an ally, but knowing that all the military aid in the world won't help such a fatally flawed ally win the military victory that the U.S. government wants.
How to resolve the dilemma? JFK insisted on keeping all his options open. Obama said: "I have asked my national security team to prepare a range of other options that could help support Iraqi security forces, and I’ll be reviewing those options in the days ahead."
JFK sent a seemingly endless round of envoys to Vietnam to study the situation and report back to him. Obama may well end up doing the same.
"We want to make sure that we have good eyes on the situation there," the current president said. "We want to make sure that we’ve gathered all the intelligence that’s necessary so that if, in fact, I do direct and order any actions there, that they’re targeted, they’re precise and they’re going to have an effect."
Have an effect? Looking back at the outcome in Vietnam, all one can say to Mr. Obama is, "Lotsa  luck, buddy."
And one must wonder whether Obama has told Maliki in private what JFK told Diem: U.S. troops would not actually be doing the fighting; we would only send military aid and advisors. Nevertheless, the U.S. would "expect to share in the decision-making process in the political, economic, and military fields." Looking back to Vietnam and ahead to Iraq, one can only say again, "Lotsa luck, buddy."
To the end of his life Kennedy remained caught up in a typical American fantasy: If you just work hard enough at it, you can reason your way to the precisely perfect solution. You can walk the fine line that lets you avoid hard decisions and instead find the perfect balance that embraces both sides of the dilemma. You can have it all. And because you are America you can bend smaller nations to your will, enforce that perfect solution, and insure a happy ending for everyone.
If the ghost of JFK still wanders the White House he might be waking Barack Obama in the middle of the night, saying, "Lotsa luck on that one, too, buddy."

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Catholic Irish Babies Scandal: It Gets Much Worse -

In addition to the abuse of children by Priests, we have now learned that all the "scary Nun" stories have some basis in fact. 

More on the Roman Catholic church in Ireland.

May all those "holy people" rot in HELL.

From Salon by  Mary Elizabeth Williams


It gets worse. One week after revelations of how over the span of 35 years, a County Galway home for unwed mothers cavalierly disposed of the bodies of nearly 800 babies and toddlers on a site that held a septic tank, new reports are leveling a whole different set of charges about what happened to the children of those Irish homes.
In harrowing new information revealed this weekend, the Daily Mail has uncovered medical records that suggest 2,051 children across several Irish care homes were given a diphtheria vaccine from pharmaceutical company Burroughs Wellcome in a suspected illegal drug trial that ran from 1930 to 1936. As the Mail reports, “Michael Dwyer, of Cork University’s School of History, found the child vaccination data by trawling through tens of thousands of medical journal articles and archive files. He discovered that the trials were carried out before the vaccine was made available for commercial use in the UK.”
There is no evidence yet—and there may never be—that any family consent was ever offered, or about how many children had adverse effects or died as a result of the vaccinations. Dwyer told the Mail, “The fact that no record of these trials can be found in the files relating to the Department of Local Government and Public Health, the Municipal Health Reports relating to Cork and Dublin, or the Wellcome Archives in London, suggests that vaccine trials would not have been acceptable to government, municipal authorities, or the general public. However, the fact that reports of these trials were published in the most prestigious medical journals suggests that this type of human experimentation was largely accepted by medical practitioners and facilitated by authorities in charge of children’s residential institutions.”
In a related story, GSK — formerly Wellcome — revealed Monday on Newstalk Radio that 298 children in 10 different care homes were involved in medical trials in the ’60s and ’70s that left “80 children ill after they were accidentally administered a vaccine intended for cattle.”
Irish Minister of State for Training and Skills Ciaran Cannon has called for a public inquiry into the treatment of the children and their deaths. The archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, has also called for an investigation, adding that it should be free of Catholic Church interference. “We have to look at the whole culture of mother and baby homes; they’re talking about medical experiments there,” he told RTE Radio this weekend. “They’re very complicated and very sensitive issues, but the only way we will come out of this particular period of our history is when the truth comes out.” And a spokesman for GSK said the latest revelations, “if true, are clearly very distressing.” 
This is not even the first time information on these kinds of vaccine trials has come to light. In 2010, the Irish Independent uncovered how children born in the homes were subjected to a single “four-in-one” vaccine trial without their mothers’ permission. The children often didn’t even know what they’d been subjected to until well into adulthood. Appallingly,  Ireland had no laws regarding medical testing on humans until 1987. Mari Steed, who was born at the Bessborough home in the ’60s, told the Sunday Independent,“We were used as human guinea pigs.”
What Ireland is only now beginning to fully investigate and understand is a story involving potentially thousands of children who were almost certainly neglected and mistreated, and whose deaths were addressed as a mere trash disposal issue. It is now believed a total of upward of 4,000 children were similarly disposed of in other homes across the country. It’s a story of untold even higher numbers of children who were unwitting subjects in a vaccine test that further refused to see them as human beings, capable of fear and pain.
And an interesting insight into why so many children may have been so casually treated and tossed away was revealed in a recent feature on the scandal in the Independent. Babies born to unwed mothers—and this, let it be noted, would have included mothers who were raped—“were denied baptism and, if they died from the illness and disease rife in such facilities, also denied a Christian burial.” In other words, the Catholic institutions that these women and their children were forced to turn to as their only refuge viciously turned their backs on them — treating them, quite literally, as garbage.
This is abuse of the highest order. Abuse in life, abuse in death. Carried out by religious orders so warped, so perverted in their utter lack of mercy that they participated in the suffering of an unfathomable number of babies and children. This is what the Catholic Church of Ireland is capable of, when it is given free rein over the bodies of its most vulnerable members. And an official inquiry hasn’t even begun. As Michael Dwyer told the Mail this weekend, “What I have found is just the tip of a very large and submerged iceberg.”

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Ella Fitzgerald - Mack the Knife

Ella Fitzgerald- "It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing" 1957 (RITY Archives)

The First Lady of jazz, Ella Fitzgerald, performs one of her signature tunes live in Europe in 1957. Her stellar bands includes Ray bBrown on bass, Oscar Peterson on piano, Papa Jo Jones on drums, Herb Ellis on guitar and Roy Eldridge on trumpet.

Ella Fitzgerald - Summertime (1968)

Ella Fitzgerald Someone To Watch Over Me

Ella Fitzgerald - Embraceable You

Ella Fitzgerald - Blue Skies

Recorded March 18, 1958 at Radio Recorders, Hollywood.

With Paul Weston's Orchestra: John Best, Pete Candoli, Harry "Sweets" Edison, Don Fagerquist, Mannie Klein (tpt); Edward Kusby, Dick Noel, William Schaefer (trmb); Juan Tizol (v trmb); Chuck Gentry, Matty Matlock, Ted Nash, Babe Russin, Fred Stulce (reeds); Paul Smith (p); Barney Kessel (g); Joe Mondragon (b); Alvin Stoller (d); Weston (arr, cond).

Saturday, June 7, 2014

D-Day +1

I think I remember D-Day.  I was 5 at the time, so any memories I have are sketchy at best.

I remember my cousins Tony and Johnny both being wounded in WWII.  Both were limited physically for the rest of their lives.  I also knew a lot of men who were forever changed by being in that war  --  even those who saw very little action (if any).  One never seemed to be able to get beyond his war experience.

In addition to the GI Bill making many good futures possible, and awful lot of survivors were never able to get beyond the experiences of the war.  It may have been a "good war" for us, it was never that for them.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Something to think about all you middle class, "I support the rich" folks.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


I recently turned 75.  It's neither good nor bad  --  it just is.  One bad thing is that an awful lot of folks I've known over the years are gone.  They are no more - like the parrot in the Monty Python sketch.  Even if I Google them, they do not seem to show up.  It's disappointing to learn that all those folks I was sure were "stars" (of one sort or another) seem not to have been.

Another disappointment involves the way young folks seemingly can't believe much of what I relate of history I was directly involved in.  It seems our taught "history" directly refutes my lived experience.  These young folks really want to believe the teachings that have shaped their world view over the truth I actually experienced.

Those on the right who complain about both the "liberal media" and our "liberal schools" either don't know what "liberal" really means or just want both the schools and media to outright lie.

They teach and repeat lies about our past, our present, and (if you look around a bit) our future. 

I fear our future will be like Sears  --  a company that was once one of our strongest, now a hell hole to work for.

I hope I'm wrong    ---    I fear I'm not.