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      Stumbled across this lovely chart the other day. The core fact most people, including the folks in the “best every world” Panglossian movement (like Pinker) don’t seem to understand, is that even if they were right (questionable), the prosperity we have is based on burning down our house. “Sure is hot! Hottest it’s every been!” […]
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Who are we killing and why?


While Left Blogistan is getting their collective panties in a wad over the thought of poor Julian Assange facing rape charges in a Swedish court of law, our government is busy killing people:

‘Unprecedented’ Drone Assault: 58 Strikes in 102 Days

It may take years, but some researcher will travel to Pakistan’s tribal areas and produce a definitive study on what it’s been like to live amidst an aerial bombardment from American pilotless aircraft. When that account inevitably comes out, it’s likely to find that 2010 — and especially the final quarter of 2010 — marked a turning point in how civilians coped with a drone war that turned relentless.

Even as the Obama administration’s assessment of its war strategy nodded to the primacy of the CIA’s drone campaign, Predators underscored the point. Over the past two days, four Predators or Reapers fired their missiles at suspected militants in North Waziristan, with three of the strikes coming early today.

They represent a geographic expansion of the drone war. Today’s strikes come in Khyber, an area abutting Afghanistan’s Nangahar province, that’s been notably drone-free. It has become an area for militants fleeing military action in South Waziristan to take succor.

They also bring the drone-strike tally for this year up to 113, more than twice last year’s 53 strikes. But those figures don’t begin to tell the whole story.

According to a tally kept by the Long War Journal, 58 of those strikes have come since September: There has been a drone attack every 1.8 days since Labor Day. LWJ’s Bill Roggio says the pace of attacks between September and November (there was a brief December respite, now erased) is “unprecedented since the U.S. began the air campaign in Pakistan in 2004.” (By contrast, in 2008, there were just 34 strikes.)

Both Roggio and the New America Foundation have found that the overwhelming majority of this year’s strikes have clustered in North Waziristan: at least 99, by Roggio’s count.

That torrid pace of attacks should make it beyond debate that the drones are the long pole in the U.S.’s counterterrorism tent, even if the drone program is technically a secret. The Pakistanis haven’t sent their Army into North Waziristan to harass al-Qaeda’s haven in the mountainous, Connecticut-sized region, waving off U.S. pressure to invade.

Without a ground force to rely on, the CIA argues, the only option for fulfilling the administration’s goal of crushing al-Qaeda is a missile strapped to a surveillance aircraft. During the presidential campaign, Obama said he would pursue al-Qaeda in Pakistan unilaterally if he deemed the Pakistanis intransigent. No one expected he meant he’d do so from the skies.

Of course, the Pakistanis have been the silent partner in the strikes, allowing the drones to fly from their territory, so it’s not as if these are unilateral attacks.

But no one knows whether a backlash is just around the corner. While most Pakistanis remain ignorant of the strikes, those in the tribal areas live literally in their shadow, and register enormous discontent, approving of retaliatory attacks on U.S. forces.

Reportedly, the CIA’s top officer in Islamabad has fled Pakistan after a man from North Waziristan whose son and brother were killed in a strike filed a lawsuit against the agency.

There’s no official or universally accepted figure of how many civilians have died as a result of the strikes, but New America pegs it at around 25 percent of all fatalities. Long War Journal’s registry is more generous, claiming that 1,671 militants and 108 civilians have died in the strikes since 2006.

Then there’s the question of whether the strikes are legal. Obama administration claims that the September 2001 congressional Authorization to Use Military Force in retaliation for 9/11 provides all the legal protection necessary for the strikes. Some lawyers and law professors, by contrast, think that the drones’ remote pilots could eventually get hauled before a war-crimes tribunal.

Who exactly are we killing? What have they done to deserve death? Who decided they should die?

Last time I checked we weren’t at war with Pakistan.


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The Democratic Party’s two halves: Is Detente Possible?

Ok, here’s my attempt.  Be gentle.  It’s my first time.

From Stirling Newberry’s blog post “The Truth, an Open Letter on why this American and This Left are Doomed” at Corrente:

A country is doomed when its opposition is so corrupt that it cannot be trusted to oppose. Let me name some names.

Let’s start with Jane Hamsher. She’s been called out to run for office by some of her zombies. But let me tell you some, though by no means more than an tiny fraction, of truth about Jane Hamsher. She’s sold the left out over and over again. Back in the early days of the Obama administration, many of her own writers wanted to oppose Obama, sensing, or in some cases have positive knowledge, that Obama was a marketing campaign wrapped around a messiah complex. She stopped it. Got people taken out.

Then she went into opposition, to collect the donation stream that keeps her afloat. Suddenly, in the abstract, unattached to anything, she looked like she was principled. But that lasts only as long as her interest does. Given a chance to have the mandate taken out of the health care bill, her young and stupid hatchet man Jon Walker is on the case, doing what is good for Jane and himself. Instead of taking the moment to say “single payor, nothing more, nothing less,” which would be the principled thing to do, she goes for getting the mandate with universal issue. Let me connect the dots for you. It is no secret that Jane Hamsher is a cancer survivor. She needs universal issue, out of all the things in the bill. Jon Walker is young, he would benefit by not paying the mandate. So does Jane, because FDL could not afford to pay the mandate, and making her own people eat the penalty would be one hypocrisy too far out of her legion of hypocrisies.

Will it stop the mainstream media from treating Jane and “chickenshit” Digby and their buddies like they are spokespersons for the left blogosphere?  No, probably not.  But at this point, anyone who is still bopping over to FDL with the idea that they’re going to get opinion reflecting what is good for the country, is probably chasing rainbows.  Stirling says Jane knew after the administration took office.  I contend that she knew when Obama was just a candidate for the nomination.  Digby admits to having serious doubts but didn’t want to piss off her commenters, some of whom, no doubt, were Obama operatives who inflicted themselves on many blogs at the time, including ours.

If you have a megaphone of any size and you do not exercise it to tell the truth to your readers, you’re no better than Fox.  To this day, Jane’s frontpagers continue to wale on the Clintons, reflexively, without a second thought as to whether a Hillary Clinton administration would be better for working class Americans than what we got.  If it even slowed down the rapidly accelerating descent of the middle class that we got with Obama, it would have been worth it.  But Jane and Digby and Markos did what was profitable than what was right.

How does that make them different than Hannity and Colmes?

We’ve tried detente.  They don’t want to join with us and push back.  They’d rather cling to their excuses for their crazy advocacy of Obama that lead to the ripping apart of the party and the destruction of their own political force.  They want to justify their tepid support of Obama using reasoning that made absolutely no sense at the time given the information at their disposal, let alone in retrospect.  And they want to continue to differentiate themselves from us by calling us names and racists as if whistling past the graveyard is going to somehow protect them from the taint of their working class status.

Whatever.  Just don’t come looking for support from us.  I used to think an apology wasn’t necessary.  But I’ve changed my mind about that.  They have insulted me in every possible manner.  Their actions have resulted in the worst recession in the past 70 years and one that is going to be longer and tougher than it had to be because Obama is president.

They owe all of us a big apology.