07/26/2017
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Panther Sightings

American foreign policy as a state sponsor of terrorism in response to terrorism operates now with a decidedly genocidal logic. Perhaps that logic has been there all along, but with increased American use of drone assassinations in tribal areas on two continents, the logic has become inescapably real, albeit not officially acknowledged or, perhaps, consciously accepted.  Americans are used to hearing their leaders demonize whole populations thought to produce terrorists because “they hate our freedoms”  (Pres. Bush, Sept 20, 2001) or that they are “fueled by a common ideology,… that violence against Western targets, including civilians, is justified in pursuit of a larger cause” (Pres. Obama, May 23, 2013). These are formulations rooted...
​ Global security begins in Washington, where the secretary of defense says that American isolationism is a bigger threat to the rest of the world than American hubris and that's why "we must remain the world's only global leader." If that sounds confused and contradictory, it's only because that's who we are as a government in the early 21st century. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke at length (35 minutes) about "America's long-term national security priorities" as the keynote speaker for the Global Security Forum 2013, an invitation-only event for past, current, and would-be government officials at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on November 5 in Washington. Hagel was active with CSIS while he was out of...
​ Now we know exactly how many members of the U.S. House of Representatives care enough about American terrorism to attend a Congressional briefing about a U.S. drone attack that followed a classic terrorist pattern in killing a grandmother and wounding nine children in Pakistan. Five. Five members of "the people's house" came to the briefing, and one of them was there for the full 90 minutes. When one of the witnesses expressed disappointment at the turnout, a congressman reassured him: this was better than we expected. They were all Democrats. Had any other American lawmakers joined the audience of somewhat more than 100, they would have heard some of the survivors describe the inexplicable (and unexplained, because the CIA does not...
Image by Dylan Kelley for Vermont Commons  The latest high-ranking Vermont Democrat to push for prime military pork in her state is Burlington city attorney Eileen Blackwood, who released a slippery legal memo October 17th that is as cleverly political as it is narrowly legal, leading to widespread, obtuse media coverage along the lines of Vermont Public Radio's simply false headline: "City Report: Burlington Can't Block F-35." Blackwood's "preliminary analysis" was a memo "responding to some of the legal concerns raised" in the course of three years' "public discussion of the Air Force's consideration of basing the F-35 jets at the Burlington International Airport (BIA)." Blackwood, a Democrat, said her legal memo was requested by...
The Fourth Amendment of the U. S. Constitution is anti-police-state “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”   The founding document of the United States is inherently suspicious of a government’s willingness to abuse its powers, a suspicion rooted in centuries of tyranny around the world. Even the U.S. government, as well as state and local governments, have abused their powers from time to time since the country’s beginning. The drift toward an...
For all the talk about the United States approaching a catastrophic Debt Ceiling and subsequent unprecedented but exceptional default that would have unpredictable but probably dire impact on pretty much everybody, one thing you don’t hear much is that: There is No Debt Ceiling. Seriously, the relevant law literally does nothing to control the national debt. A serious Debt Ceiling law would prevent Congress from appropriating expenditures beyond the debt limit.  Congress has never done that, Congress probably never would do that, even if it could. Congress doesn’t want to do that, and it would probably be irresponsible for Congress to do that.    Presumably a president could veto any appropriation that exceeded the Debt Ceiling of...
Is the phrase “government shutdown” actually an oxymoron?  By the time you read this, the government shutdown may or may not be over, and it may or may not matter to you personally, and it may or may not matter to the country – depending on the criteria you use to assess it. Those who say it’s not actually a “government shutdown” are correct in an obvious way – it’s actually only a partial executive and judicial branch shutdown, with Congress very much alive, well, and dysfunctional as ever.  A real government shutdown would bring the troops home from their dozens  (hundreds?) of foreign postings; it would free all the prisoners at Guantanamo and other prisons (or, alternatively, leave them locked up to starve); it would leave our...
With Vermont’s highest elected officials still deep in Defense Dept. denial over the disaster that is the Air Force’s F-35 strike fighter, a local city council threatens to bring some military sanity to Vermont (but nowhere else) by exercising its landlord right to reject as a tenant a weapon of mass destruction that will wreak havoc on the local neighborhood.  This initiative comes from four members of Vermont’s Progressive Party on the Burlington City Council, who plan to introduce a resolution on October 7 effectively barring the F-35 from being based in the middle of Vermont’s most populated area. In contrast, Vermont’s official “leadership,” almost all Democrats, still thinks basing nuclear-capable warplanes in a Vermont community is...
What would it look like if a government really knew what it was doing? Lacking a comprehensive, coherent account of rational beings acting in rational ways to work towards peaceful and reliable solutions to difficult questions, we offer here a fragmentary highlight reel of one day in the life of an American government  spinning in all directions toward no known goal in Syria.  But first a note about the context of the current public debate about Syria: we’re getting conned by the White House on intelligence assessments. Again. As reported by Gareth Porter for IPS on September 9: “Contrary to the general impression in Congress and the news media, the Syria chemical warfare intelligence summary released by the Barack Obama...
When the president asks Congress for a blank check for war, why does the Congress fret about setting a limit on war powers instead of just saying: “NO” to any check? What happened to checks and balances (as if we all didn’t know)?    Already quislings of both parties in the Senate – Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Republican Pat Roberts of Kansas – are staking out the “compromise” position of a limited war in response to President Obama’s proposal for an open-ended war authorization.  According to Leahy, Democratic senate staffers are working on an alternative authorization for killing Syrians.  Several Republican senators, including John McCain of Arizona, Bob Corker of Tennessee, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and Lindsey Graham...

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