In 2009 and 2010 alone, there were more U.S. troops who committed suicide then troops killed in combat during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq combined.

And after they get discharged and cast out like used gum by Uncle Sam, almost half them have suicidal thoughts and nearly a fifth of veterans have planned to kill themselves.

Whether it be inside or outside the theater of combat, war kills.

The tea party must learn to love the downgrade

As pointed out by Angela Thorn, the Democrats (with the help of the Republican establishment beginning with Sen. John McCain’s ridiculous “tea party as hobbits” analogy) have launched a coordinated media-blitz to pin the blame for S&P’s recent downgrade of the country’s credit rating on the tea party.

On a Fox News Sunday show, David Axelrod used the phrase “Tea Party Downgrade” referring to the recent S&P action. John Kerry used the exact same phrase on MSNBC this morning. blasted out an email using the same phrase in the title.

Apparently, the twenty-two Republican freshmen in the House are to blame for all the debt, deficit, and downgrade! Somehow, in less than a year, they managed to drag the country into the brink of ruin. McCain was wrong; the tea partiers are not just hobbits, but mutants possessing superpowers!

I hold no love for the tea party and while I do recognize that their rise and political power is of consequence, I am not ready to credit them for the federal government’s much-deserved downgrade. To do that is to ignore the role the other 413 House representatives had in the debt ceiling debate (which, according to the approved corporate media narrative, is negligible).

If the Republican and Democratic leadership were serious about compromising, they could have easily ignored the tea party. Instead, they intentionally created this theater and when it was all said and done, colluded with one another to place the blame on their shared enemy: the tea party.

However, the downgrade and the subsequent bipartisan blame game poses a political opportunity for the tea party. The tea party ought to embrace the downgrade and claim credit for it. If anything, the downgrade makes it more costly and more prohibitive to expand the government: a necessary step to constrain the size and scope of government.

The tea party must not only embrace, but learn to love the downgrade.

Britons as barbaric as Americans

Turns out that Britons are as barbaric as their American cousins: the majority want to reinstate the death penalty

In a Survation poll for The Mail on Sunday newspaper, 53 percent said they wanted capital punishment back, with 34 percent opposed.


When asked which method should be used, 66 percent opted for lethal injection, with 12 percent calling for hanging, five percent for the electric chair and four percent for a firing squad.

I guess the British are not as enlightened as I hoped they were. Even more worrying is that a horrifyingly large number of them, a full 21% of Britons surveyed chose the more brutal, inhumane forms of capital punishment.

Holy shit.

Horrific, but is it really that surprising? They have been bombing Afghanistan and Iraq alongside their American counterparts for years, is it a wonder that this thirst for blood affects their domestic policy as well?

Heroic hacktivists release potentially ‘incriminating’ police data

The heroic hacktivists of Anonymous have directed their cyberwar against 70 police agencies they accuse of targeting sympathizers of the hacker group.

Anonymous is claiming that they have obtained potentially embarrassing and incriminating data that will discredit the agencies. The last time the hacking collective  made the claim of possessing damning information, they uncovered that the security firm HBGary hatched a plan, which they were planning to present to Bank of America, to target and discredit supporters of the whistleblower website WikiLeaks (including prominent political blogger Glenn Greenwald).

The fallout of that discovery was well-documented, which included HBGary’s COO Aaron Barr’s resignation. Given such a record, these police agencies have every reason to worry about what might Anonymous could release.

Following through their threat, the hacker group have released 7.39 gigabytes of data on Pirate Bay. And according to the Associated Press, police agencies are taking the hacking seriously.

It remains to be seen whether the release would uncover anything of value; frankly, it could be nothing. However, as I have commented on Twitter regarding Anonymous: I will give anyone who acts against the Police State the benefit of the doubt always; and never for the State.

Romney campaign’s $1 million loot from mystery firm

Mitt Romney, the corporate media-sanctioned front-runner, has been the recipient of one the largest political donations ever this election season. Except how his campaign received some of these money is raising some serious legal questions.

A mystery company that pumped $1 million into a political committee backing Mitt Romney has been dissolved just months after it was formed, leaving few clues as to who was behind one of the biggest contributions yet of the 2012 presidential campaign.

A former FEC counsel describes it as “subterfuge” while Dave Weigel calls it money laundering.

Who are these people donating such large sums to Romney anyway? According to Politico, Romney’s donor list includes a billionaire who profited off the housing bubble’s collapse, bankers, and a few wealthy people.

This campaign revelation has come at a bad time for Romney. With the debt ceiling brouhaha over and no major news going on in the next few weeks, all eyes are will be on him.1 His prolonged silence in the debt ceiling debate, Sarah Palin’s salvo, fellow Mormon John Huntsman’s imploding campaign, his non-participation in the Ames Straw Poll, and now this mysterious campaign donation will ensure that he will suffer the brunt of unwelcome media scrutiny in the next few days.

Though, it is doubtful that this controversy would seriously hurt Romney’s presidential campaign in any significant way. If his ideological flip-flops have not hurt his lead in the polls, then why would illegal contributions? If anything, this would be seen as yet another media-led witch-hunt against the wealthy and their expensive political speech. Romney would only benefit from such “attack.”

1 Except the deepening famine crisis in Somalia, the increased violence in Afghanistan and Iraq, the continued violence in Libya, the stock market’s free-fall, the weakening dollar, and so on. But I digress.

The self-deluding meme of a ‘weak Obama’

As soon as the debt ceiling deal was announced, progressives from the Left immediately attacked President Barack Obama’s so-called capitulation to the Tea Party, with liberal columnist Paul Krugman calling it “an abject surrender.” This surrender, progressives argue, has weakened Obama and raises questions about his reelection chances.

But here is the problem with this meme of an unwilling, weak-willed (or to quote a friend of mine, “ball-less”) Obama capitulating to the evil Tea Party: it is simply not true. One only has to look past the current political theater being played out to recognize Obama’s gleeful abuse of the enormous power he wields.

As pointed out by Arthur Silber:

When one considers the destructive powers of the weapons at his command, as well as the bloodily murderous enthusiasm with which he uses them, and when one contemplates the enormous powers he enjoys entirely apart from and in addition to those weapons, it will easily be seen that Obama is the single most powerful individual in the entire history of humankind.

Even ignoring the widespread reports that it was the White House that first suggested cuts to Social Security and the ridiculous back-and-forth in the debt ceiling debate, many of Obama’s policies that progressives disagree with have not been provoked or been the result of Republican political machinations.

Was it Republicans that pressured a weak-willed Obama to ignore the law and bomb Libya? Was it the tea party that pressured Obama to wage the White House’s unprecedented crackdown on whistleblowers? Was Obama being “ball-less” when he went after Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks or when his Justice Department decided not to prosecute Bush’s torture criminals? I guesss it was Boehner and Cantor that forced Obama to increase the drone attacks in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Was Obama being weak and incompetent when he claimed the right to assassinate Americans extra-judicially?

To summarize, Obama’s decidedly anti-progressive policies have been and always been his own.

The belief that Obama is weak is self-delusional. Obama, with the help of a complicit Congress, has greatly expanded the powers of the executive branch and edged that office closer to an imperial presidency. Small government Republicans, progressive Democrats, and the libertarian-leaning faction of the tea party underestimate Obama at their peril. As I have said before, Obama is not just Bush Lite; he is Bush Squared.

UPDATE: Of course, Glenn Greenwald pointed this myth out two days ago.

Iowa a Test of Ron Paul as Mainstream Candidate

Mr. Paul’s libertarian views have moved from the fringe toward the mainstream of conservative thinking in the past several years, with his warnings about fiscal meltdown gaining new resonance and the 2008 financial crisis allowing him to press his longstanding critiques of the Federal Reserve.

Now, as he again seeks the Republican presidential nomination, he is hoping to show that he can translate the new attention into votes. And his first test is the straw poll next month, where he is hoping he can organize his band of followers into a political machine capable of beating some or all of his brand-name rivals.

It has been very interesting (and illuminating) to watch how corporate media treats the Ames Straw Poll in their reporting. It is at once both: a “political bell-weather” or a “test” that would make or break a presidential run, and utterly inconsequential with the corporate media-sanctioned front-runners (i.e., Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, and inexplicably Gov. Rick Perry of Texas) not participating in the straw poll.

Regardless of the outcome of the straw poll in Iowa, one thing is for sure: Ron Paul would never be mainstream enough for corporate media. His consistent antiwar views has all but precluded him from that.

Botched Paramilitary Police Raids: An Epidemic of ‘Isolated Incidents’

An interactive map of botched SWAT and paramilitary police raids, released in conjunction with the Cato policy paper “Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids,” by Radley Balko.

When does it stop becoming “botched” and starts becoming “protocol?” Or maybe this is as Jeffrey Tucker said, “The business of government.”

Socialism for the rich as Obama, GOP threaten cuts to seniors and the poor

Lost in this debt ceiling debate is the role of the Federal Reserve has played in it. While House Republicans and the White House quibble on fiscal policy and how much hurt they want to inflict upon America (while cooperatively ignoring the massive war spending that continues to drain this nation’s wealth), Sen. Bernie Sanders and the General Account Office (GAO) discovered that the Federal Reserve doled out $16 trillion in corporate welfare, many of them to the very same banks that were responsible for the housing bubble and the subsequent economic recession the United States finds itself in.

Below are the recipients of the Federal Reserve largesse, many of them foreign banks that are not going to “create jobs” in the United States.

Citigroup: $2.5 trillion
Morgan Stanley: $2.04 trillion
Merrill Lynch: $1.949 trillion
Bank of America: $1.344 trillion
Barclays PLC (United Kingdom): $868 billion
Bear Sterns: $853 billion
Goldman Sachs: $814 billion
Royal Bank of Scotland (UK): $541 billion
JP Morgan Chase: $391 billion
Deutsche Bank (Germany): $354 billion
UBS (Switzerland): $287 billion
Credit Suisse (Switzerland): $262 billion
Lehman Brothers: $183 billion
Bank of Scotland (United Kingdom): $181 billion
BNP Paribas (France): $175 billion

The amount of money the Federal Reserve gave to Citigroup and Morgan Stanley alone is more than the amount of spending both the White House and the morally bankrupt House Republicans are threatening to cut, which according to Robert Greenstein of the usually non-partisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, will severely harm seniors and the poor.

The monetary policy enacted by the Federal Reserve is what drives and empowers the failed fiscal policy of Congress, regardless of which party is in momentary control. It is also the same monetary policy that funded and continues to fund Bush’s and Obama’s murderous foreign policy.

Unfortunately, corporate media has been successful in framing the debt ceiling “debate” as an ideological clash between “socialism” and those who believe in “small government.”

As Americans (the poor and the shrinking middle-class) tear each other to shreds, the Federal Reserve with the rich and politically-connected recipients of its gifts stand back and enjoy the spectacle.

Experts: Drone Strike Has the ‘Hallmark of al-Qaeda’

A missile from what witnesses described as an unmanned aerial vehicle left dozens of people dead and countless more injured in Pakistan’s volatile tribal region this morning, a deadly strike that experts say shows all the classic signs of Islamic terrorism.

Charles Davis’ excellent spoof of the media’s knee-jerk reaction to blame Muslims for any and all terrorist attacks.

Anders Breivik cites Jesus several times in his manifesto

Much ado has been raised about Anders Breivik’s hate-filled (and apparently mostly plagiarized) manifesto with the New York Times implying that American bloggers and right-wingers might have incited Breivik to violence.

The man accused of the killing spree in Norway was deeply influenced by a small group of American bloggers and writers who have warned for years about the threat from Islam, lacing his 1,500-page manifesto with quotations from them, as well as copying multiple passages from the tract of the Unabomber.

Ignoring the spurious attempt to link the Unabomber with the right-wingers (he was anti-state, not anti-Muslim), this reminds me too much of the attempt to link Sarah Palin with the Giffords shootings (we found out later that the shooter was quite liberal).

Anders Breivik also cites Jesus in 32 out of the 1,500 pages in his manifesto, as well as mentioning Barack Obama, Mahatma Gandhi, and Al Gore.

It makes me wonder: is Jesus to blame for the killings in Norway?

(The answer, of course, is an emphatic “no.”)

U.S. State Department to command a brigade of mercenaries

Even more hope and change from the White House as Sec. of State Hillary Clinton’s State Department blocks oversight of the massive mercenary army it is raising.

By January 2012, the State Department will do something it’s never done before: command a mercenary army the size of a heavy combat brigade. That’s the plan to provide security for its diplomats in Iraq once the U.S. military withdraws. And no one outside State knows anything more, as the department has gone to war with its independent government watchdog to keep its plan a secret.

I am willing to bet that the salaries they pay these mercenaries are five to ten times more than they pay the soldiers and Marines who continue to die in that forgotten war.

Arizonans’ dumb objection to Arabic words

Some in Arizona are objecting to their newspapers’ use of the word haboob, which is the actual meteorological term to describe the kind of dust storm that was seen in Arizona last week.

The blinding waves of brown particles, the most recent of which hit Phoenix on Monday, are caused by thunderstorms that emit gusts of wind, roiling the desert landscape. Use of the term “haboob,” which is what such storms have long been called in the Middle East, has rubbed some Arizona residents the wrong way.

“I am insulted that local TV news crews are now calling this kind of storm a haboob,” Don Yonts, a resident of Gilbert, Ariz., wrote to The Arizona Republic after a particularly fierce, mile-high dust storm swept through the state on July 5. “How do they think our soldiers feel coming back to Arizona and hearing some Middle Eastern term?”

I have been calling intermittent streams (or temporary washes) using the Arabic wadi for awhile. And I am sure many of us grew up using the words alcohol, guitar, algebra, and chemistry without thinking twice about their Arabic origins.

My suggestion to these people in Arizona is to stop using English altogether, lest they accidentally utter an Arabic word that would offend the fragile sensibilities of returning soldiers and Marines.

More democracy, more openness

Jens Stoltenberg, prime minister of Norway, responds to the attacks in Oslo and Utoya:

Our answer is more democracy, more openness to show that we will not be stopped by this kind of violence. At the same time we shouldn’t be naive, we should understand that violence can attack our society – we’ve seen that today.

What a stark contrast to what George W. Bush said right after the attacks in New York City.

The United States could learn a thing or two from Norway.

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