Saturday morning I leave for a long road trip. A road trip I have long wanted to take. I’m headed to Joshua Tree National Park.
If all goes well I’ll hit Palo Duro Canyon in Texas for the sunset Saturday, drive through the night, have my coffee and sunrise at the Grand Canyon Sunday morning and then be in Joshua Tree by one in the afternoon.
Expect stories and photos from the road.
Been a while since we traveled together, y’all and me, hasn’t it? Well, we’re going to have fun!
As always, suggestions welcome!
Raw Story – I don’t want what he is drinking!
An absolutely excellent deconstruction of Donald Rumsfeld by the award winning writer, reporter, Mark Danner in the New York Review of Books, in three parts. One, two and three.
I hope he turns this into a book.
Trampling Through the Vineyards Where the Grapes of Rights Are Stored
The CIA searched computers intended to be used solely by the Senate Intelligence Committee in an apparent effort to determine how committee staff members gained access to a draft version of an internal agency review of its controversial interrogation program, U.S. officials said.
The action, some officials say, would mark the first time a U.S. intelligence agency has accessed congressional computers and would be an apparent violation of the constitutional principle of separation of powers.
So the CIA finally decided that Senators are people, too?
Continue reading Maybe They’ll Finally Do SOMEthing
In a surprise move, Secretary of State John Kerry was heard to offer Russia membership of NATO in order to defuse the Ukraine situation. In an aside to the Russian Ambassador he was heard to say:
If Russia were a member of NATO then there would be no encirclement of Russia from sea to shining sea.
24 Hours later, it appears that President Putin has seized on the idea and embraced it, in a similar manner to the defusing of the Syrian saturation where John Kerry suggested that Syrians give up their poison gas stockpile.
Putin has responded positively to the suggestion to defuse tension and remove any threat by Russia to Ukraine and Western Europe over “technical difficulties” of natural gas deliveries passing through Ukraine.
Continue reading NATO to Offer Membership to Russia
How crazy will Americans get over Ukraine?
US Provokes Russia, Acts Surprised to Get a Nasty Reaction
Reader Supported News
If too many people get sucked in by the current, distorted media coverage of events unfolding now in Ukraine, then there’s a good chance life will get very ugly for a lot of innocent people, since one of the logical end points is the use of nuclear weapons. Everyone in power knows that’s a potential reality, but the urge to demagogue the Russians is presently overwhelming honesty and caution.
Continue reading Ukraine Folly
The Kentucky Baptist Convention wants to “point people to Christ” by giving away guns at Second Amendment Celebrations hosted across the state. In the words of spokesman Chuck McAlister the strategy is “outreach to rednecks,” and 1,000 people are expected to attend the next event. To lure the nonreligious into the fold, the churches are offering a handgun, shotgun, or long gun as door prizes…. “The number of unchurched men who will show up will be in direct proportion to the number of guns you give away,” McAlister told The Courier-Journal. “And I can almost tell you the number of men who would show up based on the make or model. There is a huge interest among unchurched men in the state of Kentucky regarding guns and gun rights that is even more of a draw than a toaster or money would be.”
Continue reading Guns and Jesus: Hey, it’s Kentucky. Why not??
Food for thought….
Zero Hedge-Tyler Durden
The last time a leaked phone call out of Ukraine was released about a month ago ostensibly by the Russian NSA equivalent, one between US assistant sec state Victoria Nuland and the US envoy to the Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, it was revealed that the real puppet masters behind the Maidan movement, and the true instigators of the Ukraine “revolution” were none other than the “developed” world superpowers, lead by the US. Also revealed were tensions between the US and EU strategies on how to overthrow the current government, culminating with the infamous “Fuck the EU.” Needless to say the US, which implicitly confirmed the recording, was angry at Russia and accused it of using dirty tricks.
That’s ironic, because when it comes to “dirty tricks” what is about to be presented, blows the top off anything Russia may or has done to date.
Earlier today an even more shocking recording has been “leaked” this time one between the always concerned about human rights EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and Estonian foreign minister Urmas Paet, in which it is revealed on tape that all those photos of horrifying deaths of Ukrainians by snipers during the last days of the Median stand off, were in fact caused not by Snipers controlled by Yanukovich, but that the snipers shot at both protesters and police in Kiev were allegedly hired by Maidan leaders!
Here is the key exchange, just after 8 minutes into the conversation :
Paet: “All the evidence shows that people who were killed by snipers from both sides, policemen and people from the streets, that they were the same snipers killing people from both sides. … Some photos that showed it is the same handwriting, the same type of bullets, and it is really disturbing that now the new coalition they don’t want to investigate what exactly happened. So there is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovych, but it was somebody from the new coalition.”
Ashton: “I think we do want to investigate. I mean, I didn’t pick that up, that’s interesting. Gosh.”
Paet: “It already discreditates (sic) this new coalition.” more at link
Updates in comments
See this from tonight’s Nelson Report:
SUMMARY: given that in foreign policy as in love, action speaks louder than words, it seems silly to write that “today Vladimir Putin broke his silence on Ukraine”, but he did give his first public remarks at a Kremlin insider’s press conference in which he managed to sneer at the US and just about everyone while simultaneously flexing his muscles, and seeking to ramp it all down just a bit.
The assumption is he thinks he’s either already gotten what he wants in the Crimea (and Kiev?) or thinks that it’s all coming his way due to a combination of steps already taken, and continued ambivalence in Europe over how tough to be about it all.
We have to run…right now…yikes…to a dinner with Amb. Sasae…will pick up on Ukraine tomorrow except to note that the Merkel “tweet” apparently saying the thought Putin might be nuts actually was a mis-translation by someone…what she actually said is better translated as “Putin has a totally different world view than we do”.
Mega kudos to Quax. Countless policymakers and players in DC get that note tonight. So the question is: was the mistranslation and honest mistake or was it done on purpose and if so, why? My money is on a purposeful mistranslation. After all, why subsequently leak it to the New York Times?
Apparently alchemy, which is something Isaac Newton was dickering with at the about the same time he was writing his Principia, works!
A team of Michigan State University researchers have discovered a bacterium that has the ability to withstand incredible amounts of toxicity to create 24-karat gold. This process, known as microbial alchemy, will help scientists turn a substance of no value into a solid, precious metal.
Now, if we could just find some substance to transmute idiocy into intelligence we’d be golden!
This is the mark of an insular, insecure society.
A society that requires “Trigger Warnings” for college and university courses is a society that is decidedly not preparing its young for the real world.
The real world is a harsh, brutal and fundamentally unfair place. It is a place with real winners and losers. It is a place where violence, racism, homophobia, theft and rape don’t come wrapped up in nice prettified “Trigger Warnings.”
A discussion of such things should be open, frank and should be shocking. It should be jarring. It should be disturbing.
Why is this man laughing?
The diplomatic crisis in Ukraine is bad enough and the America government struggles to find a path to work this out are harsh and complex, but see if you can guess where this article was posted: Continue reading Today In Slanted News
So, below the fold is tonight’s Nelson Report. Honestly, I just don’t know where to begin, what to say, what I could possible add. We’re clearly at a point in the West, including Merkel, where no one, not a single leader, has the power of imagining themselves in another leader’s shoes.
Seriously, Merkel’s leak, as reported by Nelson, means this: “fuck it, I’m out. Y’all handle Putin.” This kind of behavior bodes extremely ill for the successful and prudent conduct of foreign policy, not to mention Western civilization.
Addendum, added 9:10 am 3/4/2014:
This comment from Quax makes me feel a whole lot better about Merkel: As a German speaker I can say authoritatively that the word by word translation of “he lives in another world” takes on a completely different meaning in English. When a German says “er lebt in ein anderen Welt” this uses exactly the same words and sentence structure, but it means “he looks at the world completely differently”.
Also, for more on Merkel, see Moon of Alabama.
Further, please, don’t get me started on the whole “Putin’s lost his sanity” thing. That to me is a clear indication that no one is even remotely ready to consider the full spectrum of reality. Calling a leader crazy is a political cop-out. It’s intellectually lazy. It’s an easy way of telling the home crowd: “I can’t deal with this dude, he cray-cray,” and then you get a free pass. That’s bullshit. That isn’t statesmanship. It’s not responsible. It’s cowardly. It’s also a sign you are ethically bankrupt, not to mention strategically incompetent. You engage with the people you must, not the people whom you wish you could. The world is not Burger King, you cannot always have it your way. It simply does not work that way.
I read this stuff and all I see and hear are rationales and excuses for bad Western behavior. There is literally zero ability or willingness to see this from any other perspective. Now, do I need to add that Putin’s a profoundly evil man? Do I need to add that Yanukovich was a deeply odious and flawed leader of the Ukraine? Maybe I should. Apparently all these caveats and conditions are necessary before you can have a “serious” discussion. But, I think you all know that. I don’t think Agonist readers are stupid at all. (Your leaders think you are fools, however.)
And you know what? That’s all beside the point. What concerns me most here is the danger of miscalculation. This is a real crisis now, people. Three weeks ago everyone said nothing like this would happen. Guess what?
So, how do we manage the climb-down from this crisis? How do our leaders (God help us!) do this? Can they? Can a group of people who are so fundamentally in intellectual lock-step with each other find a negotiated solution to this crisis with someone with whom they believe they are morally superior? Wow, do I need to mention how dangerous a position it is to be morally superior when your interlocutor has nukes.
Why is that important? Well, if the West is to get this done peacefully, the West is going to have to give Putin something in return. They are going to have to give someone they believe they are fundamentally morally superior to what is in essence, from their perspective, a bribe. You see where this is headed? Deadlock. I don’t see any leader in the West capable of making an intellectual leap like that. I don’t know a single one who has the courage to do what must be done, as opposed to flinging cheap rhetorical boogers from the cheap seats. Can Obama? Cameron? Harper?
Merkel? Hollande? Are you kidding me?
And you know what’s most important and lost in all this? This crisis could have been avoided. But because it wasn’t innocent people are going to die. I’m really sick of that happening.
So, go ahead, read tonight’s Nelson Report and just weep for the Baby Jesus; then go read this interview of Dmitry Simes.
Who you think is more rational? Or in tune with reality?
Continue reading The View From DC on Russia, Putin and the Ukraine