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Profile Information

Name: Manny Goldstein
Gender: Male
Hometown: Greater Boston
Home country: USA
Current location: Remulak, as far as I can tell
Member since: Tue Aug 30, 2005, 09:44 AM
Number of posts: 33,340

Journal Archives

Think for a moment: the CIA got caught spying on Congress

And after the CIA's director told us that this could not possibly have happened... turns out it happened, they 'fessed up today. But why would Mr. Brennan tell the truth? In this White House, liars like Gen. Clapper keep their jobs while truth tellers like John Kiriakou go to prison.

And the CIA also threatened to throw Congressional staff in jail for doing their job. Classy!

In any case: could there be any greater challenge to our Constitution than the Executive spying on, and threatening Congress?

Suppose we read a story about a banana republic, that described how the head of the intelligence service (promoted to his position after being involved in torture) was spying on and threatening members of the legislature who were investigating his agency.

Well, that's us.

Let's talk a little more about why the CIA was 'spying' on the Senate Intelligence Committee
Posted by MannyGoldstein | Thu Jul 31, 2014, 11:44 PM (100 replies)

NY Times: The C.I.A.’s Reckless Breach of Trust

The C.I.A.’s Reckless Breach of Trust

In March, John Brennan, the C.I.A. director, was indignant when Senator Dianne Feinstein charged that the agency had broken into computers used by staff investigators from the Senate Intelligence Committee, which she leads. “As far as the allegations of C.I.A. hacking into Senate computers,” he said, “nothing could be further from the truth. I mean, we wouldn’t do that. I mean, that’s just beyond the scope of reason.”

But reason seems to have little to do with the C.I.A.’s operations, as Mr. Brennan apparently discovered far too late. On Thursday, the Central Intelligence Agency admitted that it did, indeed, use a fake online identity to break into the Senate’s computers, where documents connected to a secret report on the agency’s detention and torture program were being stored. Mr. Brennan apologized privately to Ms. Feinstein and to Senator Saxby Chambliss, the vice chairman of the intelligence committee, and promised to set up an accountability board to determine who did the hacking and whether and how they should be punished.

The accountability and the apologies, however, will have to go much further. It’s not just two senators that the C.I.A. has offended by this shocking action. It is all of Congress and, by extension, the American public, which is paying for an intelligence agency that does not seem to understand the most fundamental concept of separation of powers. That concept means that Congress is supposed to oversee the intelligence community and rein in its excesses. It cannot possibly do so effectively if it is being spied on by the spy agency, which is supposed to be directing its efforts against foreign terrorists and other threats to national security.

The committee has been working since 2009 on a comprehensive history of the agency’s antiterror program during the George W. Bush administration, which involved illegal rendition to other countries, detention, and torture of suspects, all producing little useful intelligence. It has been frustrated at many points by stonewalling from the agency, which provided misleading information, hid important facts inside a blizzard of excess documents, and forced endless delays in the declassification process. The 6,300-page report still has not been made public, though parts of it may be released later this month, and it is expected to undercut the Bush administration’s claims that its actions were both legal and effective.
Posted by MannyGoldstein | Thu Jul 31, 2014, 11:31 PM (7 replies)

White House: "Marijuana should remain illegal"

From today's NY Times:

The White House Tries, Fails to Explain Why Marijuana Should Remain Illegal

No sooner had the Times published its opening editorials advocating legalization of marijuana than the White House fired back with an unconvincing response on its website. It argued that marijuana should remain illegal because of public health problems “associated” (always a slippery word) with increased marijuana use.

Careful readers will immediately see the White House statement for what it is: A pro forma response to a perceived public relations crisis, not a full-fledged review of all the scientific evidence, pro and con. The White House is actually required by law to oppose all efforts to legalize a banned drug.

Besides, it is hypocritical for the White House, whose chefs brew beer for the president, to oppose legalizing marijuana, which poses far less risk to consumers and society than does alcohol. Two recipes for the White House brew are posted on its website under the headline “Ale to the Chief.”

The White House lumped its public health argument under four main headings. Before addressing them individually, we should note that there was an enormous upsurge in marijuana use in the 1970s. So far as we know, no one has claimed that it produced calamitous health or societal harm in subsequent decades. The main metric that soared was arrests for possession of marijuana.

I guess smoking pot is more of a threat to society than war crimes and lying to Congress.
Posted by MannyGoldstein | Thu Jul 31, 2014, 08:47 PM (79 replies)

Both right. Both wrong. But only one really bears responsibility.

I read a post earlier today that bemoaned the lack of comments by Jewish posters on the tragedy in Gaza. For what it's worth, here's my take:

A horrible mess in the Middle East, many are dying, many more injured. It has been this way, more or less, for more than 60 years.

The Israelis have a good points! They're tired of rockets getting lobbed at them, and sharing a border with folks that want to annihilate them is a bad situation.

The Palestinians have good points! They're terribly oppressed by the Israelis, who helped themselves to Palestinian land.

Good points, but much suffering and death. For many years this has been true, and nothing improves. The Palestinians suffer more, their desperation and hatred of Israel grows. The Israelis see the increased hatred and become more dug in. And the wheel goes around again.

Neither side will ever win. Wars are almost never won without so utterly decimating the enemy that they lose all will to fight. Think firebombing of Dresden or Sherman's march to the sea. The Palestinians are simply incapable of it, and the Israelis are unwilling to inflict the necessary horrors that are orders of magnitude above what we're witnessing today.

If neither side can win, then the only way forward is for one side to unilaterally act to create a tenable situation. And only one of these two sides really has the power to do this, and that is Israel. It's been that way for decades. Israel is a powerful and prosperous nation that has the wherewithal to make things right here. Until Israel unilaterally finds a way to establish a Palestinian state, and to allow decent lives for the Palestinian people and bright futures for their children, there will be no peace.

It is all on Israel to do the right thing here, and it has been for many years. There is no practicable solution that will stop the rockets and polemics overnight. But give people decent lives, give them a reason to believe they can create a better tomorrow, and they'll start thinking about making a better tomorrow instead of thinking about killing the people who turn their lives and dreams to shit.

I'm not an expert on Israel, but I have no doubt that they, like us, have a military-industrial complex that causes all manner of mischief to keep their citizens afraid and in a state of perpetual war: there's good money in this evil. Israel, like the US, must find a way forward that shoves these extraordinarily-harmful people out of the way so we can live in decent, functional, and caring societies. The way into the light is to embrace peace as boldly, as vigorously, and as unilaterally as we've embraced war.

We must all give peace a chance. It's our only chance.
Posted by MannyGoldstein | Mon Jul 28, 2014, 11:56 PM (67 replies)

Announcement: the Democratic Underground Book Club

First up, Fifty Shades of Gray.

I'm sure there are a few others on DU who, like me, are tired of reading all of this bombast without knowing what the heck people are talking about. And some of the bomb throwers might want to read the thing too.

Sign up below, details to follow.
Posted by MannyGoldstein | Sun Jul 27, 2014, 10:12 PM (28 replies)

Hamas rejects cease-fire, NY Times wants legal pot, US ups involvement in Ukraine war,

but DU is set ablaze by badly-written pseudo-porn that seems like Teletubbies compared to the stuff that's free on the Internet.

(I downloaded the first bit of 50 Shades for free on Kindle. Wretched stuff.)

Idunno what the right way forward is, but this ain't it.

Posted by MannyGoldstein | Sun Jul 27, 2014, 01:20 AM (6 replies)

Dumb question: what's a Socialist?

I'm trying to wrap my brain around the concept of Socialism, and I have some questions...

1. Is there a *best* definition of Socialism? I've always vaguely understood that it has to do with government ownership of things that could be owned privately, but every country has some degree of that except perhaps the Libertarian paradise of Somalia. Based on the name, I'd think that Socialism might mean "a focus on Society"?

2. Is there a good measure for determining which countries are Socialist and which aren't, or the degree of Socialism in each country? Some measure of wealth redistribution perhaps?

The reason I ask... I heard Bernie Sanders being interviewed the other day, and he spoke of the differences between the "Socialist" countries in Europe and the US, and he was dead on: those "socialist" countries are doing well, and their 99% lead good lives without the garbage we face here. I'm also impressed by Kshama Sawant's efforts in Seattle, getting a living minimum wage enacted. So maybe *I* should fly the Socialist flag... but I'm trying to figure out what it is!

Any help in sorting this out is appreciated!
Posted by MannyGoldstein | Sat Jul 26, 2014, 09:51 PM (65 replies)

Bernie Sanders: Pulled out from under the bus.

It's wonderful to see how Bernie's been rehabilitated in the eyes of Sensible Democrats. Not so long ago, Bernie was an unrealistic fringe player spouting crazytalk.

Times have changed.

Now Bernie is a sage, his every utterance and action examined and loudly proclaimed by the Sensible Set (as long as it's not some inconvenient claptrap, like "Let's not starve and freeze old people by diverting their Social Security benefits to tax cuts for the rich").

"Bernie agreed with Obama!" "Bernie voted for X along with Democrats!" "Bernie didn't attack Hillary".

It's wonderful that Bernie's getting the respect and attention that's his due, and I'm confident it will continue if/when he launches his campaign for the Democratic nomination for President.


First-Way Manny
Posted by MannyGoldstein | Fri Jul 25, 2014, 11:15 AM (83 replies)

Anyone at the Lowell Spinners game?

I'm behind home plate.
Posted by MannyGoldstein | Thu Jul 24, 2014, 07:52 PM (7 replies)

She's DEFINITELY, ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY not runn... um... uh...

That difficult woman from Massachusetts continues to be difficult:

Washington Post: Elizabeth Warren could end the presidential speculation today. She has chosen not to.

In a new interview with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), ABC's Jeff Zeleny does something a journalist should have done a long time ago: press her on her use of verb tense.

Noting Warren's stock response to whether she will run for president is "I am not running," Zeleny makes the completely valid point that such a statement is quite a bit less than Shermanesque.

Here's the video, and here's the exchange:

ZELENY: You've said 'I am not running.' Is that still your answer today?

WARREN: I am not running.

ZELENY: I noticed it's in the present tense, though. 'I am not running.'

WARREN: I'm not running.

ZELENY: Does that mean you've ruled out running, or all you'll say is, 'I am not running'?

WARREN: I am not running for president.

An awful setback for the Resistance-is-futile-so-don't-even-think-about-it crowd. Darn.
Posted by MannyGoldstein | Thu Jul 24, 2014, 11:56 AM (92 replies)
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