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This sequester is going to hurt our local economy if allowed to drag on into furloughs and layoffs

I can't tell you how angry and frustrated I am that republicans are being allowed to wreck our nation's economy with their dithering and meddling; almost ALL of it to try and inflict some sort of political blow to President Obama. This has been going on since the beginning of his first term and it has had real-world effects on my prospects for hours and pay.

Now, with the almost certain possibility of local layoffs and forced, arbitrary cutbacks in our federal workforce, I'm certain that our business and others in the region will feel the impact of already shell-shocked consumers pulling back their purchases to cover their loss of income.

This couldn't happen at a worse time. We're just starting to see business creep back and hours have been tentative, but mostly holding steady. I can see a future where our area businesses (and the nation's) are struggling to overcome this republican, self-induced economic downturn. Taking this much money out of our economy at once is economic homicide.

It's a deliberate attack on the most vulnerable in our country; holding vital services hostage, while standing in the way of any attempt to reduce their own wealthy share of government benefit that would affect their tax shelters and their beneficiaries' corporate welfare.

Yet, the government services that republicans are looking to rob to support their wealthy tax schemes have already been shrinking; even before this President took office.

from the WSJ: Government Payrolls Shrinking Even Before the Sequester

The billions of dollars in federal budget cuts known as the “sequester” began to take effect on Friday after President Barack Obama and Congressional Republicans failed to reach a deal to avoid them. But even before the latest round of cuts, the public sector was getting smaller by at least one critical measure: jobs.

Federal spending is still rising. But that is mostly because of the rising cost of entitlement benefits, primarily Social Security and Medicare, as well as interest on the national debt. Spending on most everything else, from defense to scientific research, is falling as a share of economic output—and in many cases falling outright. Inflation-adjusted federal spending, as measured by the Commerce Department in its GDP accounting, has fallen in seven of the past eight quarters.

Standing firm against ANY sacrifice from the wealthy, republicans are just, outright, stealing from average-to-low income and poor Americans with these sequestration cuts. I've goddamn HAD it with these rich fucks - millionaire legislators - dismantling government services to advantage their own bank accounts.

Wake up, America! There's a mob of fat cats loading up their limousines with our furniture; our clothes; our food; our medicine; the very planks of our homes. They're just standing there; daring us to arrest them; daring us to stop them; taunting us to give them even more than they've robbed so far. They're destroying our jobs and our livelihoods to keep us in a perpetual state of depression and dependence.

They're daring us to step outside of these arranged deals and slick budget schemes and put them in their place. Negotiating with them just enables them even further. What they need is a good measure of obstinacy to match their own deliberate obstruction. We're truly screwed if our party doesn't respond to this attack on the majority of Americans with force and resolve.

We don't need to wonder anymore if republicans would actually allow our country to suffer for their petty politics. This is the largest economic assault on average-income to poor Americans that any political party of legislators has ever engaged in. Defeating them politically, somehow, just seems wholly inadequate in the face of this attack. It's the least we can and should do.

Recognizing, remembering Abraham Lincoln on this last day of Black History Month

This year, African American History Month celebrates two landmark anniversaries in American history, with the theme, “At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality: The Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington.”

One of the most important things that I take from the history of Abraham Lincoln's 'emancipation' efforts for blacks in America is the reality of his own ambivalence toward black independence and even their ability to coexist with whites in this country. In a debate with Stephen Douglas in 1858, Lincoln was clear about his antipathy toward giving blacks rights regularly afforded to the white majority:


“I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in anyway the social and political equality of the white and black races—that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I, as much as any other man, am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied everything.”

His subsequent embrace of the 13th Amendment reflects the way America, as a whole, was compelled to relinquish their prejudices and accept the emergence of rights for blacks in the newly United States.

I remember a story I read of the integration of a particular school in the South where ALL of the white students were pulled out of classes by their parents when a handful of black youth were admitted. Those black youth attended classes in a virtually empty school that year. The next year, however, the majority of the white students had been allowed to return - and time and history marched on.

It really is remarkable how our insistence on progressive change has the potential to move mountains of resistance, in the end. History tells us this.

Mrs. Gilmore's Defining Black History

This year, African American History Month (which ends today) celebrated two landmark anniversaries in American history, with the theme, “At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality: The Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington.” The volume of remarkable and celebrated subjects who advantaged their own lives from the accomplishments of Lincoln and King is vast and wide. There is an endless resource of African Americans in our nation's history whose accomplishments aren't as widely known and recognized.

I'm fortunate to have a long line of outstanding family members and friends of the family to recall with great pride in the recounting of their lives and the review of their accomplishments. In many ways, their stories are as heroic and inspiring as the ones we've heard of their more notable counterparts. Their life struggles and triumphs provide valuable insights into how a people so oppressed and under siege from institutionalized and personalized racism and bigotry were, nonetheless, able to persevere and excel.

Upon close examination of their lives we find a class of Americans who strove and struggled to stake a meaningful claim to their citizenship; not to merely prosper, but to make a determined and selfless contribution to the welfare and progress of their neighbors.

That's the beauty and the tragedy of the entire fight for equal rights, equal access, and for the acceptance among us which can't be legislated into being. It can make you cry to realize that the heart of what most black folks really wanted for themselves in the midst of the oppression they were subject to was to be an integral part of America; to stand, work, worship, fight, bleed, heal, build, repair, grow right alongside their non-black counterparts.

It can also floor you to see just how confident, capable, and determined many black folks were in that dark period in our history as they kept their heads well above the water; making leaps and bounds in their personal and professional lives, then, turning right around and giving it all back to their communities in the gift of their expertise and labor.

One outstanding African American woman who is associated with my family deserves to have her story highlighted a bit in this period where we're striving to elevate and establish the history of blacks in America to an appropriate level of focus.

Elizabeth Harden Gilmore went to school with my mother, living and growing up in the same working-class black community of Charleston, West Virginia. Mrs, Gilmore had the distinction of being the first female black funeral director in the state. She was the owner and funeral director of Harden and Harden Funeral Home.

Before she was widely recognized as a civil rights leader, we used to visit her spooky, classical, revival style mansion in the center of Charleston (now a historical landmark) which had the funeral parlor in the basement. Mrs. Gilmore lived in that house from 1947 until her death.

Recognized today as a civil rights leader in her state and community, Mrs. Gilmore co-founded the local chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in 1958 (the first in West Virginia), leading CORE in a successful 1 1/2 year-long sit-in campaign at a local department store called The Diamond. She also served on the Kanawha Valley Council of Human Relations which advanced measures related to housing, transportation, access to other public accommodations.

Mrs. Gilmore also earned a place on the all-white Board of Regents after a successful fight to amend the 1961 state civil rights law. She was also a charter member and Executive Secretary of the Council of Racial Equality.

She was always warm, gracious, and unfailingly generous. Mrs. Gilmore had a gentle, light cadence. She had unusually long fingernails which she would use to gesture toward you as she spoke. Mrs. Gilmore was well-traveled and would talk with my mother for hours about her experiences abroad and in the community while I fiddled with the expensive crystal she had brought back from Russia and squirmed in my seat.

I came upon a few old articles in my family scrapbooks featuring Mrs. Gilmore in the period of her ambitious work and efforts to serve and elevate her town and its residents. I've transcribed them for a remembrance, and for this year's celebration of black history. I hope you enjoy her enlightened and remarkable perspective on her life and work.

First, an article from 1960 highlighting Mrs. Gilmore's impressions of the struggle for civil rights, six years after the Supreme Court ruled on school segregation:

Negro Says Action The Way To Get Integration

Mrs. Gilmore remembers the first time she decided to actively demonstrate against segregation.

"It must have been 25 years ago," she said. "Lady Baden-Powell, whose husband started the Boy Scouts, was in Charleston and a program was arranged for her at old Garnet High School."

"My Girl Scouts were invited to take part. We found that they had been placed off stage, hidden in the corner, and were supposed to sing spirituals."

"Now I have nothing against spirituals. They're a part of American music, but the whole idea upset me so much, the hurt of those passed-over little girls, that I decided to do something about it."

"I implied that unless new arrangements were made, I would take my little brown-skinned girls and march out right in the middle of the program. Well, something was done about it. They sat on the stage and they held up their heads."

" I guess I've always been something of a protester. My daughter calls me 'Mrs. Ant'iony and Carrie Nation. But my grand mother taught us not to be ashamed because we were Negroes. She said to look people in the eye when we talked to them. She told us we were as good as anybody else, no better, but as good."

Mrs. Gilmore's protest against racial segregation resulted in her helping to organize a Charleston chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality, the first and only CORE chapter in West Virginia at the time.

CORE, a national organization, is pledged to direct non-violent action against segregation. Such action has included sitting in restaurants and refusing to leave until receiving service (sit-ins), picket-lines, and boycotting.

Activity of the Charleston group, so far, has been limited to lunch counters of variety stores. Eventually, each of the targets changed from a segregated to an integrated policy.

There were 14 active members of CORE there, and about 400 associate ones. Active members pledge to take part in demonstrations when they are asked.

"I am convinced of the efficiency of direct action," Mrs. Gilmore said. "If our people had used it a generation or two ago, we wouldn't be witnessing the things today that shock and sadden people of all races."

"Many people feel as I do. That's why we're opposed to the idea that if we keep our places ans wait patiently these things will come to us. We've been waiting for almost a hundred years and whatever we've got, we've had to fight for. It wasn't given to us. That's why we believe in direct action."

"Segregation, making a person an inferior citizen, is a bad thing, an evil thing. I think the majority of white people would gladly see the end of it if it could be done in a way that would not involve them personally. I think the majority would welcome, if put to a popular vote, an ordinance that would say "we will have no more of this.'"

"I think people would welcome a way of life where man could walk with dignity and live his life to the extent of his potentialities, as a Christian, as a human, as a brother in a free society."

Mrs. Gilmore, as many other observers, thinks that Charleston residents are tolerant toward minority groups. But she adds, tolerance or sympathy is not enough; specific improvements are the things needed.

Restaurants and hotels, she thinks, will end their policy of refusing service to Negroes in the near future; not because they felt it was the proper thing to do, but because pressure was brought against them.

"There are other things when you talk about how tolerant Charleston is," she said, "employment for one. We desperately need some semblance of fair employment. It is the most important thing of all."

"The greater portion of our ills can be laid to the lack of employment opportunities. If we had good jobs, we could have better educations, decent homes, better medical care, all the things that money can buy to enhance a good life."

"If that were so, you wouldn't need to live six to eight to a room and pay $60 a month for a hovel. You could buy good decent clothes for your children; you could buy good books; you could have music in your home. How can you do that on $45 every two weeks? You can't do it! And yet, people criticize these people. They say we don't open our doors to Negroes because we're afraid that type of person will come in."

Mrs. Gilmore thinks that critics of CORE, those who do not believe in protest action, do not understand what it is to be a Negro."

" They can't realize the slights, the rebuffs, the humiliation," she said. "They don't see the tears in their children's eyes. They don't know the sadness, the frustration."

"And it's all so silly. I remember one day I heard one white girl ask another where she had gotten her beautiful tan, and the girl said she had spent two weeks in Florida. I couldn't help thinking that on her it was a beautiful tan; to me, it was a stigma."

"We want what everyone wants: a decent home, records perhaps, the chance to go to a museum or to a theater or to an art galley. We're no different in our hopes and aspirations than anyone else."

"Yet, we're not getting those things, most of us, because of a sociological condition rather than an intrinsic failing. It isn't fair, and our young people, particularly students, are struck by the unfairness it represents."

"My people came over the Appalachians from Virginia before the Civil War because they wanted to find a better place to live," she said.

She said the demonstrations which she helped plan and execute are, to her, the best way to dramatize both the inequality that Negroes face and the inequities of segregation.

"This isn't a go-it-alone battle that we're in," she said. "People of good faith here and throughout the world sympathize with our aims."

"I've been fortunate enough to meet a few of them. I think the greatest thing to happen to Charleston was the Haseldens. (Rev. Haselden was the pastor of the Baptist Temple; his wife was a leader of the Kanawha County Council on Human Relations.)"

"Elizabeth Haselden, with her beauty, grace and dignity, brought to the women of Charleston a graphic story. Albert Schweitzer said, "Example is not the greatest thing; it is the only thing.'"

" She showed them that this battle for human rights was not a brawl of just a rabble's action but it was something that could be done without loss of the things that culture and education bring."

"These women in Charleston have taken their cues from Elizabeth Haselden. They can in good faith, without destroying any of the things that makes a lady, fight this battle and maintain these things -- not only maintain them, but enhance them to make this a better world."

Elizabeth Harden Gilmore, I daresay, provided many, many of the cues for the women of Charleston, and everywhere this great lady's influence was felt and experienced.

One more article featuring Mrs. Gilmore from 1969:

"I'm very honored and pleased," says Mrs. Virgil Gilmore of her appointment to the new state board of regents.

The sole Negro and only woman member on the board, which will supervise eight state colleges and two universities, was asked how she would feel as the lone female in an all-male group. "That doesn't bother me," she says. "I'm an old woman and I've been married twice. I'm not afraid of men or in awe of them."

She's used to the situation anyway, because she's also the sole woman member of the Charleston Area Chamber of Commerce. As a member of the chamber's education task force, she works with the tutorial program in the Board of education's 'Keep a Child in School' project.

A graduate of West Virginia State College and a licensed funeral director, Mrs. Gilmore has one daughter who is an aerodynamics programmer with General Electric in Cincinnati.

"That's the brains in my family," she says of her daughter. "She received a BS degree in chemistry and math from WV State. I always said nobody could accuse me of pulling her along, because in subjects like that, I could only pull her down."

To her new post as board member, Mrs, Gilmore will take the philosophy: "Our salvation lies in education." She believes most of our ills can be attributed to a lack of knowledge of ourselves, of how to live with others, of how to get the most out of our lives and all the beautiful things that exist . . . There is an adventure about living,: she adds. "It's all here. We're just so sophisticated, or hardened, I guess, that we fail to find the things that make life good."

That personal concept, she says, has paid off. Although she has only one daughter, Mrs. Gilmore says she has "lots of children," including the Girl Scouts, some she has had from the time they were ten years-old on through college.

"And I don't have a single child who can't walk freely and with dignity with kings and princesses," she explains. "They know how to support themselves, they know how to be gentle and kind and decent -- those are the only things you really need."

She says, "those Girl Scouts are more than just Scouts to me. They're my children. I taught them to eat and sleep and walk and talk and I can safely say that two-thirds of them are now business women and degreed women. I've got librarians and school teachers and beauticians -- all kinds of young'uns."

Her Scout were the first Negro girls to attend Camp Anne Bailey and she recalls the bitter struggle involved in actually getting them admitted and the sales they held to finance the trip. "You don't reach into the average Negro's pocket, at least not then, and pull out things like health cards and swimsuits," she explained.

Mrs, Gilmore was a pioneer of the civil rights movement in West Virginia. Of the progress in integration, she tells her youngsters that "the doors are open now. If you don't go through, it's nobody's fault but your own. I remind them we have the government on our side now. If you have a grievance, you don't have top fight it out on you own anymore."

Of her own involvement in the cause of the Negro, she says, "I'm a persistent cuss -- and a mother. My daughter would look up at me with her big brown eyes and ask to have a tall soda at Scott's Drug Store. I would tell her she couldn't and she would say, 'Well, why, mother, why can't I?" That's all it took to get me started.

Mrs. Gilmore refers to herself as a Negro, not black. "I'm old-fashioned," she explains, "My maternal grandmother was from England and my maternal grandfather was from Spain, so, I figure I'm just as much as anything as I am black."

"My great-grandmother came over the mountains to the Kanawha Valley four generations ago looking for a better life. She had six children and only the supplies her master had given her. I tell youngsters today that if one woman could face that alone, that's all the more reason today to seek successful lives for themselves."

What if the president could just wage war from the Oval Office?


What if the President didn't need to go to Congress to get approval to wage war? What if the POTUS could wage war from his Oval Office without a massive deployment of troops or weaponry that would need continuous funding from a reluctant Congress? That's the future, and I think Americans are buying it.

There is a disconnect from the horrors of war that our country folk have become comfortable with as those who promote and prosecute the violence within and without our government separate us, more and more, from an accounting of the bloody realities of the mindless destructive power of our weaponry and the dangerous contradictions that undermine the premise of our military interventions. Apart from the dehumanizing of the targets of our aggression with the taunts, the name-calling, and the pistol-packing cowboy 'dead or alive' rhetoric thrown out like red meat to the cowed masses, our government and military has been content to brush past the humanity of the inhabitants of whatever lands they choose as the whipping post for their military misadventures.

In the countries they've chosen to invade and occupy in the last decade, Iraq and Afghanistan, they have dismissed expressions of nationalism by the citizens of these sovereign nations in defense of basic prerogatives of liberty and self-determination as threats to our consolidation of power. Yanked from our peaceful, post cold war slumber by the suffering of one day of attacks by a rogue band of meglomaniacs and their hapless martyrs, our nation has endured the consequences of a paranoid slap-attack at the rest of the world with eyes closed that began with then-President Bush's fearful flight around the country that day in Air Force One to "keep out of harms way".

His frightened tantrum ended with an opportunistic grab to usurp the power from a vanquished nation of innocents; a suffering class of people who were already devastated by the bombing of the first war, and by the economic sanctions imposed by the U.N. at the insistence of the U.S., which served to enrich Saddam Hussein and steadily impoverish and starve everyone else.

Bush's administration pulled the nation's defenders into invading Iraq to compensate for, and to draw attention from, their failure to apprehend the ringleader of the attack on the World Trade Center. Bush made the appeal to the nation in a manner which exploited our deepest fears as he stepped down from the pile of rubble and human remains with his bullhorn still in hand and warned the nation about the potential for a future Iraqi assault on our country, or on our allies, of a magnitude that would far exceed the devastation of the horrendous suicide attack in New York.

Bush's strategy of preemption became his license to release our aggressor nation from its responsibility to pursue - to the rejection of their last reasonable admonition - a peaceful resolution to Saddam's obstinacy. And, with a deft flex of military and political muscle, the presumption of innocence, even in the face of a clear absence of proof became a conquered victim of the tainted consensus of his cabal of purchased allies.

Lincoln once remarked: "A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, "Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!"

"They're) either with us or against us," Bush told America.

That's what satisfied most of our country folk to allow Bush to war on Iraq and Afghanistan - his careful stoking of the sparks of fear that flashed from the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, his demagogic appeals to patriotism and to our nationalism. That's what allowed him to indiscriminately bomb and strafe innocents who happen to be in the line of sight of his target, or standing in the way of his many different stated ambitions in that region.

That is what allows President Obama, today, to avoid scorn from the citizens of our own nation for the collateral killings and maiming of innocents by our men and women in the military, from the air and on the ground, as they pursue their aggression against anyone in the way of his own 'anti-terror' campaign. The nation grieved for the victims of 9-11, as we should have, but we did so in an understandable bubble of grief and apprehension about who in the world we should regard as our enemy. Bush exploited those doubts and convinced a majority of Americans, along with the Pentagon/administration driven media, that we were now at war with a world of enemies, all aligned somehow with the perpetrators of the 9-11 attacks.

"For a generation leading up to September 11, 2001, terrorists and their radical allies attacked innocent people in the Middle East and beyond, without facing a sustained and serious response." Bush told the nation as he twisted Congress for $87 billion to continue his 'war on terror'. "Since America put out the fires of September 11, mourned our dead, and went to war," he warned "history has taken a different turn. We have carried the fight to the enemy. We are rolling back the terrorist threat to civilization, not on the fringes of its influence, but at the heart of its power."

Congress rolled over in the face of their own fear of being labeled weak and unpatriotic. Congress is supposed to be the body that decides whether we're at war. Through allocation of money and through the power inherent in that body to hold the president accountable to the law, Congress is supposed to be setting the limits on this 'war on terror' and any other military adventure the White House might dream up. Not many in the Capitol could successfully argue against giving Bush authority to use the military against "those responsible for the (9-11) attacks launched against the United States" at the time that the authority was given.

But, I wonder just how many senators and representatives actually want to take on the responsibility for our security? For that cowardice, and other derelictions of leadership, they are willing to cede the very war-making authority that makes them relevant at all in the deployment of our nation's military.

There is no greater evidence of the dangers of corruption of the power and influence of our nations military than in the prosecution of the 'war on terror' by Bush. Congress seemed to bend to any and all requests for money for Bush to do whatever he wanted, overtly or covertly, with our military, its agents, and its weaponry as well. He was saturated with a new national security bureaucracy - content to use the strength of our nation, our soldiers and our citizens in their vulnerability to attack, as a battering ram to force his rhetorical version of democracy wherever his ambition for greed and conquest motivated him.

Congress can come together, if they had the will, and pull the plug on whatever military meddling and malfeasance they disagree with. One vote to modify Public Law 107-40 , Authorization for Use of Military Force, would put an end to any politician, legislator, or general's insistence that the authorization to use our military against the group of thugs who orchestrated the 9-11 attacks is an open-ended license to evade the law and launch a jingoistic campaign of suspicion and snooping against anyone they deem related to this paranoid 'war' and it's opportunistic military aggressions abroad.

That's the dirty little secret behind presidents' croc tears about Congress 'tying their hands'. They would rather not have to come before the nation and ask for the money to sustain the endless progression of hapless men and women to the roulette of death in their theaters of war.

Bush's defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld. actually formed his own private army and intelligence branch with its own funding.

from the Washington Post, Jan. 2005 (Secret Unit Expands Rumsfeld's Domain
New Espionage Branch Delving Into CIA Territory

The Pentagon, expanding into the CIA's historic bailiwick, has created a new espionage arm and is reinterpreting U.S. law to give Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld broad authority over clandestine operations abroad, according to interviews with participants and documents obtained by The Washington Post.

Rumsfeld's ambitious plans rely principally on the Tampa-based U.S. Special Operations Command, or SOCOM, and on its clandestine component, the Joint Special Operations Command. Rumsfeld has designated SOCOM's leader, Army Gen. Bryan D. Brown, as the military commander in chief in the war on terrorism. He has also given Brown's subordinates new authority to pay foreign agents. The Strategic Support Branch is intended to add missing capabilities -- such as the skill to establish local spy networks and the technology for direct access to national intelligence databases -- to the military's much larger special operations squadrons. Some Pentagon officials refer to the combined units as the "secret army of Northern Virginia."

Known as "special mission units," Brown's elite forces are not acknowledged publicly. They include two squadrons of an Army unit popularly known as Delta Force, another Army squadron -- formerly code-named Gray Fox -- that specializes in close-in electronic surveillance, an Air Force human intelligence unit and the Navy unit popularly known as SEAL Team Six.

. . . In pursuit of those aims, Rumsfeld is laying claim to greater independence of action as Congress seeks to subordinate the 15 U.S. intelligence departments and agencies -- most under Rumsfeld's control -- to the newly created and still unfilled position of national intelligence director. For months, Rumsfeld opposed the intelligence reorganization bill that created the position. He withdrew his objections late last year after House Republican leaders inserted language that he interprets as preserving much of the department's autonomy.

The money came from within the defense budget, easy to approve a lot of it hidden under the guise of national security. Rumsfeld wanted forces that are easily deployed, don't need big, public allocations (or a fanfare of pre-approval) from Congress, and are able to carry on several covert or clandestine missions at once. This meshed with Bush's shuffle of the Pentagon succession line to elevate the new intelligence office over the traditional branches of the Army, Navy, and Air Force. The new intelligence office was headed by Rumsfeld's neocon buddy, Stephen Cambone. No need to trouble us while they raped the treasury to wage their wars for greed and conquest.

-Geek Wars-

Most disturbing in the prosecution of these undercover wars was the increased reliance on 'predator' drones to launch missile attacks on hideouts and vehicles where 'intelligence' claims there is a target of terror. The Bush-era Air Force codified into their regular military arsenal, the MQ-1 Predator, long-range, medium-altitude, remotely piloted aircraft as a 'Joint Forces Air Component Commander-owned theater asset for reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition in support of the Joint Forces commander'.

The drones were equipped with two laser-guided Hellfire anti-tank missiles; originally intended for use in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. The change in designation from an intelligence tool to an offensive one occurred in 2002 with the addition of the armed reconnaissance role. Bush's CIA's Tenet approved the use of the armed drones right after the 9-11 attacks. In fact, targeting of bin-Laden by the CIA using the drones was approved by President Clinton.

However, even Tenet resisted the call to use the drones to carry out attacks. He thought the authority to wage armed aggression was the job of the military, not the CIA. Nonetheless, security insiders supported the militarization of the drone -- like our erstwhile hero, Richard Clarke, who wrote in a memo to Rice criticizing Tenet for impeding the deployment of unmanned Predator drones to hunt for bin Laden. According to the Washington Post, the memo urged “officials to imagine a day when hundreds of Americans lay dead from a terrorist attack and ask themselves what more they could have done.”

Who wouldn't get behind the prospect of striking down the nation's #1 enemy with a precision-guided tool operated from a safe distance, without the mess of dead U.S. servicefolks to muck up the approval of a shellshocked public? And what of those innocents who happen to be in the way of our missiles? Well, 'they're with us, or against us'.

Air Force officials in March 2005 announced plans to expand their force of Predators to 15 squadrons from the existing three, while at the same time developing a “hunter-killer” version of the aircraft. The Air Force proposed spending about $825 million to purchase 74 Predators over the next six years, augmenting the 68 then in service.

“Unmanned systems allow us to maintain our technological advantage and engage in high threat, non-permissive environments, while honoring the value of life we hold so dear,” Glenn Lamartin, the Pentagon’s director of defense systems, told lawmakers. He means American lives, of course. All others be damned, 'with us, or against us'.

So now, with the advancement of these offensive weapons, operated like video games from the safety of some stateside base, agents of our government, under the cover of blanket authorizations to fight terrorists which stretch back to the Clinton administration -- they are now being exploited by the Obama administration in their efforts to put a finer point on Bush's cynical war.

In their ideal, there need not be rows of caskets draped with American flags anymore containing brave soldiers and airmen who are sacrificed in the name of whatever meddling ambition the president embarks on. Most Americans won't see the hasty graves of the victims abroad of the assaults of our predator drones, graves dug out of the hard ground which inhabitants endeavor to call their own. And, as they turn against us because of our aggression and support those in their own region who stand against the imposition of our false authority, they become the enemies our government and military will likely point at to justify the continuation of this perpetual 'terror' war.

We all share the blame for our military's aggression. Even those of us who fought against war and violence carry some responsibility for the killings and maiming done in our country's name. That's why we fight to speak truth to power and work to counter the warmongerers and their enablers.

Yet, the more our citizens, public officials, defense leaders, and politicians become detached from the instruments of our military aggression, the more we become desensitized to the destruction they cause. They just give us the illusion of clean hands. We are the merchants of their misdeeds. The employment of these air assaults, manned and unmanned, insulate the U.S. from the sacrifices of American life and limb that might otherwise restrain our citizen's support for using our military to further dubious political ambitions abroad.

What if the president could just wage war from the Oval Office . . . ?

This is sad (Boy Scouts)

The New York Times ‏@nytimes
Boy Scouts Say Leak Undermined Plan on Gay Ban http://nyti.ms/WWOH7A

I get it. Once the word was out that a change in policy was coming, the knuckledraggers mobilized and vented their practiced outrage to organizers and Scout leadership. Thing is, those folks will NEVER accept ANY change that undoes the ban.

Scout administrators must know full well that they can't undo the ban with any qualifications which undermine the basic rights of individuals who may be gay. There's no use in trying to carve out some special place for them. Just afford gay individuals the same rights as every other scout leader. It's that simple.

BSA will have to make up their mind whether they want to step into the present world, or remain a throwback organization which has the look and feel of a youth Klan club. Once they set the policy, these ignorant rabble-rousers and their hypocritical following will recede into the muck and scouting will hike on into a bright and inclusive future.

Most of these youth who would be scouts already possess the values needed to accept and celebrate their differences, as they endeavor to find common ground with their peers. It's past time for the organization to step up and do what they obviously know is right. All this delay does is cater to those who will never accept gays in their leadership. It's time that BSA just let them move on and move forward with the changes we all know are inevitable now.

What makes republicans so DESPERATE to hold up Hagel? At the least, THEY think he's the real deal

from Think Progress: http://thinkprogress.org/security/2013/02/06/1547631/national-security-brief-republicans-desperate-hagel/

Foreign Policy magazine reported on Tuesday that Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee are looking for ways to hold up the committee’s vote on Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be the next Secretary of Defense. Committee member Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) said they want more information on the contents of Hagel’s private speeches he gave in recent years and who paid for them. The committee Republicans also seem to think they see an issue regarding an alleged sexual harassment incident between two former Hagel staffers during his time in the Senate. A former top Hagel staffer said the matter was handled internally and was not brought to the senator’s attention but Sessions says he wants to know more. “It should be analyzed and we should find out what happened,” Sessions said. “I know the staff is looking at it. Pretty soon we’ll get a final report on what the facts are.”

While CNN reported on Tuesday that “there are now at least five Republican senators who would oppose a filibuster of former Sen. Chuck Hagel to be secretary of defense, all but ensuring the embattled nominee will be confirmed in the coming days,” other desperate Republicans are calling on President Obama to withdraw Hagel’s nomination.

If you read the FP report, you can see the desperation of republicans like Sessions and Graham who are hoping to fish through whatever speeches they can get Hagel to cough up so they can troll through them and whip up some sort of scandal.

Interesting, to me, is the ferocity and zeal behind the opposition to Hagel. I don't think Hagel is their polar opposite, but, I do expect they know he's about to do the President's bidding on Defense matters.

I'm not a fan of republicans in Democratic cabinets - and certainly not in the Pentagon - but this nomination is in line with most of the other recent ones, in that the President's prerogative on policy looks to be the order for the next term.

I think that's what's eating at these republican senators; they know the President is going to get his way on Defense -- and Hagel's cool and measured way that he's responded to their taunts and attacks tells them they're not likely to get theirs anytime in the near future.
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