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President Obama Speaks On The Trayvon Martin Verdict (Video and Transcript)

Transcript July 19, 2013

REPORTERS: Whoa!

Q: Hello.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: That’s so — that’s so disappointing, man. Jay, is this kind of — the kind of respect that you get? (Laughter.)

Q: Wake up!

Q: What brings you out here, Mr. –

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, on — on — on television it usually looks like you’re addressing a full room.

Q: (Laughs.) It’s just a mirage.

Q: There’s generally not –

PRESIDENT OBAMA: All right.

(Cross talk.)

Q: (Inaudible) — got the Detroit story.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I got you. All right. Sorry about that. Do you think anybody else is showing up? Good.

Well, I — I wanted to come out here first of all to tell you that Jay is prepared for all your questions and is — is very much looking forward to the session.

Second thing is I want to let you know that over the next couple of weeks there are going to obviously be a whole range of issues — immigration, economics, et cetera — we’ll try to arrange a fuller press conference to address your questions.

The reason I actually wanted to come out today is not to take questions, but to speak to an issue that obviously has gotten a lot of attention over the course of the last week, the issue of the Trayvon Martin ruling. I gave an — a preliminary statement right after the ruling on Sunday, but watching the debate over the course of the last week I thought it might be useful for me to expand on my thoughts a little bit.

First of all, you know, I — I want to make sure that, once again, I send my thoughts and prayers, as well as Michelle’s, to the family of Trayvon Martin, and to remark on the incredible grace and dignity with which they’ve dealt with the entire situation. I can only imagine what they’re going through, and it’s — it’s remarkable how they’ve handled it.

The second thing I want to say is to reiterate what I said on Sunday, which is there are going to be a lot of arguments about the legal — legal issues in the case. I’ll let all the legal analysts and talking heads address those issues.

The judge conducted the trial in a professional manner. The prosecution and the defense made their arguments. The juries were properly instructed that in a — in a case such as this, reasonable doubt was relevant, and they rendered a verdict. And once the jury’s spoken, that’s how our system works.

But I did want to just talk a little bit about context and how people have responded to it and how people are feeling. You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. And when you think about why, in the African-American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African- American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that — that doesn’t go away.

There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me.

And there are very few African-American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me, at least before I was a senator. There are very few African-Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often.

And you know, I don’t want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African-American community interprets what happened one night in Florida. And it’s inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear.

The African-American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws, everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws. And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case.

Now, this isn’t to say that the African-American community is naive about the fact that African-American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system, that they are disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence. It’s not to make excuses for that fact, although black folks do interpret the reasons for that in a historical context.

We understand that some of the violence that takes place in poor black neighborhoods around the country is born out of a very violent past in this country, and that the poverty and dysfunction that we see in those communities can be traced to a very difficult history.

And so the fact that sometimes that’s unacknowledged adds to the frustration. And the fact that a lot of African-American boys are painted with a broad brush and the excuse is given, well, there are these statistics out there that show that African-American boys are more violent — using that as an excuse to then see sons treated differently causes pain.

I think the African-American community is also not naive in understanding that statistically somebody like Trayvon Martin was probably statistically more likely to be shot by a peer than he was by somebody else.

So — so folks understand the challenges that exist for African- American boys, but they get frustrated, I think, if they feel that there’s no context for it or — and that context is being denied. And — and that all contributes, I think, to a sense that if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario, that, from top to bottom, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different.

Now, the question for me at least, and I think, for a lot of folks is, where do we take this? How do we learn some lessons from this and move in a positive direction? You know, I think it’s understandable that there have been demonstrations and vigils and protests, and some of that stuff is just going to have to work its way through as long as it remains nonviolent. If I see any violence, then I will remind folks that dishonors what happened to Trayvon Martin and his family.

But beyond protests or vigils, the question is, are there some concrete things that we might be able to do? I know that Eric Holder is reviewing what happened down there, but I think it’s important for people to have some clear expectations here. Traditionally, these are issues of state and local government — the criminal code. And law enforcement has traditionally done it at the state and local levels, not at the federal levels.

That doesn’t mean, though, that as a nation, we can’t do some things that I think would be productive. So let me just give a couple of specifics that I’m still bouncing around with my staff so we’re not rolling out some five-point plan, but some areas where I think all of us could potentially focus.

Number one, precisely because law enforcement is often determined at the state and local level, I think it’d be productive for the Justice Department — governors, mayors to work with law enforcement about training at the state and local levels in order to reduce the kind of mistrust in the system that sometimes currently exists.You know, when I was in Illinois I passed racial profiling legislation. And it actually did just two simple things. One, it collected data on traffic stops and the race of the person who was stopped. But the other thing was it resourced us training police departments across the state on how to think about potential racial bias and ways to further professionalize what they were doing.

And initially, the police departments across the state were resistant, but actually they came to recognize that if it was done in a fair, straightforward way, that it would allow them to do their jobs better and communities would have more confidence in them and in turn be more helpful in applying the law. And obviously law enforcement’s got a very tough job.

So that’s one area where I think there are a lot of resources and best practices that could be brought bear if state and local governments are receptive. And I think a lot of them would be. And — and let’s figure out other ways for us to push out that kind of training.

Along the same lines, I think it would be useful for us to examine some state and local laws to see if it — if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and tragedies that we saw in the Florida case, rather than diffuse potential altercations.

I know that there’s been commentary about the fact that the stand your ground laws in Florida were not used as a defense in the case.

On the other hand, if we’re sending a message as a society in our communities that someone who is armed potentially has the right to use those firearms even if there’s a way for them to exit from a situation, is that really going to be contributing to the kind of peace and security and order that we’d like to see?

And for those who resist that idea that we should think about something like these “stand your ground” laws, I just ask people to consider if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk? And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman, who had followed him in a car, because he felt threatened?

And if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws.

Number three — and this is a long-term project: We need to spend some time in thinking about how do we bolster and reinforce our African-American boys? And this is something that Michelle and I talk a lot about. There are a lot of kids out there who need help who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement. And is there more that we can do to give them the sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them?

You know, I’m not naive about the prospects of some brand-new federal program.

I’m not sure that that’s what we’re talking about here. But I do recognize that as president, I’ve got some convening power.

And there are a lot of good programs that are being done across the country on this front. And for us to be able to gather together business leaders and local elected officials and clergy and celebrities and athletes and figure out how are we doing a better job helping young African-American men feel that they’re a full part of this society and that — and that they’ve got pathways and avenues to succeed — you know, I think that would be a pretty good outcome from what was obviously a tragic situation. And we’re going to spend some time working on that and thinking about that.

And then finally, I think it’s going to be important for all of us to do some soul-searching. You know, there have been talk about should we convene a conversation on race. I haven’t seen that be particularly productive when politicians try to organize conversations. They end up being stilted and politicized, and folks are locked into the positions they already have.

On the other hand, in families and churches and workplaces, there’s a possibility that people are a little bit more honest, and at least you ask yourself your own questions about, am I wringing as much bias out of myself as I can; am I judging people, as much as I can, based on not the color of their skin but the content of their character? That would, I think, be an appropriate exercise in the wake of this tragedy.

And let me just leave you with — with a final thought, that as difficult and challenging as this whole episode has been for a lot of people, I don’t want us to lose sight that things are getting better. Each successive generation seems to be making progress in changing attitudes when it comes to race. I doesn’t mean that we’re in a postracial society. It doesn’t mean that racism is eliminated. But you know, when I talk to Malia and Sasha and I listen to their friends and I see them interact, they’re better than we are. They’re better than we were on these issues. And that’s true in every community that I’ve visited all across the country.

And so, you know, we have to be vigilant and we have to work on these issues, and those of us in authority should be doing everything we can to encourage the better angels of our nature as opposed to using these episodes to heighten divisions. But we should also have confidence that kids these days I think have more sense than we did back then, and certainly more than our parents did or our grandparents did, and that along this long, difficult journey, you know, we’re becoming a more perfect union — not a perfect union, but a more perfect union.

All right? Thank you, guys.

Transcript via The Washington Post

July 19, 2013 Posted by | Human Rights, President Barack Obama | , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Justice Department Did Not “Organize” Protests In Sanford Florida As Idiots Claim!

Only the crazy, racist, brain dead people of the right-wing propaganda machine could turn a Department of Justice unit called the Community Relations Service into a nefarious group and claim they helped “organize” the protests in Sanford Florida, following the national exposure of the tragic death of Trayvon Martin.  The CRS is tasked with preventing tensions in racially charged situations, the opposite of what the idiots are claiming.

It fits nicely in their up is down, down is up world, doesn’t it?

I won’t link to any of the many posts flying around the wingnutosphere claiming that this Community Relations Service helped to “organize” anti-Zimmerman protests. The following is what the Community Relations Service actually does, via Media Matters for America…

The Community Relations Service is the Department’s “peacemaker” for community conflicts and tensions arising from differences of race, color, and national origin. Created by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, CRS is the only Federal agency dedicated to assist State and local units of government, private and public organizations, and community groups with preventing and resolving racial and ethnic tensions, incidents, and civil disorders, and in restoring racial stability and harmony.

[...]

For more than 45 years, CRS has been asked to provide its experienced mediators to help local communities resolve conflicts and disturbances relating to race, color, or national origin. Each year CRS’ highly skilled conciliators bring hundreds of community-wide conflicts to peaceful closure across America and its territories.

I imagine that the wingnuts really don’t want tensions to be eased, they hope to see cops bring out the riot gear and beat some people down for their sick pleasure. They really want there to be riots, you can tell by all the stories that have been written fantasizing about it. Don’t be surprised if they bus in instigators to cause disturbances, that is how they roll.

The overt racism within the right-wing media is bubbling over. Since the election of President Obama, the backlash from racists has been obvious to anyone not mired in that hateful, ignorant world. The Trayvon Martin trial has brought many of them out of their shells. They are incapable of seeing Trayvon as a living, breathing, 17 year old kid with college aspirations and a caring heart, but rather as a “thug” or any of the adjectives that George Zimmerman was recorded calling young Trayvon.

When anyone even starts to justify the killing of Trayvon, an innocent young man walking home from the store, I cut them right off. In my mind, anyone capable of justifying the murder of Trayvon Martin is a sick motherfucker and needs help. There is absolutely no justification for murdering Trayvon Martin in cold blood, NONE!

The only person responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death is George Zimmerman, full stop.

July 11, 2013 Posted by | Politics, Republican Party, Tea Party | 7 Comments

When Greenwalds Attack! 10 Examples From His Past

It’s fascinating for someone who has kept a critical eye on Glenn Greenwald to see him playing in the big leagues and striking out so much. I do believe it’s time for him to be sent back down to the minors.

Glenn Greenwald frequently attacks people who disagree with him, he can’t help himself. He has a hair trigger on that gun of his and likes to shoot it off. (By the way, he is against gun control, in case you weren’t aware.)

The most recent example of Glenn’s penchant for lashing out happened on Twitter as he attacked Daniel Serwer of Johns Hopkins University and peacefare.net.

GGTweet

Well, that one little tweet from the “Rio Pundit” prompted quite a backlash from many different directions. One of the best came from Adam Serwer, Daniel Serwer’s son, a writer for Mother Jones and a reporter for MSNBC.com.

AdamSerwer

Glenn Greenwald’s knee-jerk attack on Daniel Serwer revealed exactly how GG rolls. I wrote a post recently, The Top 5 Exaggerations By Glenn Greenwald On NSA!, that looked at just a few of Glenn’s exaggerations in his latest 15 minutes of fame. This one tweet from Glenn is both an exaggeration and an attack, combining two of his favorite tactics. And for those that say Glenn is “smart”, please read that tweet one more time.

Daniel Serwer, the person that Glenn tried to dismiss by claiming Edward Snowden had “done far more for the world in the last two months than you have in your life”, has actually spent most of his adult life working for peace. Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs has Daniel’s bio and gives his take on this incident. Here is a piece of the bio…

Daniel Serwer (Ph.D., Princeton) is a Professor of Conflict Management, as well as a Senior Fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations, at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He is also a Scholar at the Middle East Institute.

Formerly Vice President for Centers of Peacebuilding Innovation at the United States Institute of Peace (2009-10), he led teams there working on rule of law, religion, economics, media, technology, security sector governance and gender. He was previously Vice President for Peace and Stability Operations at USIP, where he led its peacebuilding work in Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan and the Balkans and served as Executive Director of the Hamilton/Baker Iraq Study Group. Serwer has worked on preventing interethnic and sectarian conflict in Iraq and has facilitated dialogue between Serbs and Albanians in the Balkans.

I won’t spend time pushing back against the Snowden claim, you can go read some of Bob Cesca’s work here, here and here if you want to get up to speed on the issues surrounding the Edward Snowden leaks.

One of the main tactics Glenn Greenwald uses is to attack anyone who challenges him, with venom and over the top projections of all things evil onto his target. I’ve personally been called a few names by him, mostly because I support President Obama. He really dislikes people who support President Obama. Joy-Ann Reid wrote about this a while back.

Anyone who fails to loathe Obama as he does is an “Obama lover” (just chew on that, if you’re African-American) or a “cultist.” It isn’t possible that Obama could do anything that isn’t vile and insipid and worthy of continual, emphatic condemnation.

Since I’ve spent way too much time reading and writing about Glenn Greenwald, mostly because I despise his tactics, but in all candor, partly because he has such a profound hatred for President Obama, I thought I’d share some links I have gathered over the years. You can decide for yourself how you feel about Glenn, considering the following.

10 Examples of Glenn Greenwald Attacks

1.  When the “don’t touch my junk” guy emerged on the scene, Mark Ames and Yasha Levine wrote a piece questioning some issues surrounding that incident, Glenn Greenwald pounced on them. Go read this account by Mark Ames and Yasha Levine, it’s quite remarkable.

2. Benjamin Wittes of Lawfare and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution wrote a great piece explaining why he won’t engage with Glenn Greenwald and the piece reveals a lot of what others have seen too. It is one of the reasons why I quit interacting with Glenn, I’ve blocked him on Twitter and try not to read any of his trolling drivel.

3. Glenn Greenwald set his aim at Wired Magazine when they published the chat logs of Bradley Manning, which got him busted. The targets of his attack on this time were Evan Hansen and Kevin Poulsen. (You may have to Google ‘The Curious Case of Glenn Greenwald vs. Wired magazine’ if you hit a paywall)

3. In this one, Glenn attacks Kurt Eichenwald and Joy-Ann Reid in an epic Twitter battle that is summarized here.

4. One of the worst attacks Glenn has made over the years, which he has never apologized for, involved joining in on attacking a friend of mine, Imani Gandy (Angry Black Lady). This one included tweeting about rape with one of his minions.

5. Ben Cohen at The Daily Banter (a most excellent site), wrote a great piece about Glenn attacking fellow journalists who supported the Iraq War…but of course, Glenn Greenwald told us in his own words how he supported President Bush in his invasion and slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi’s. And of course, Glenn was also supporting President Bush when he rammed the Patriot Act through…you know, that law that started much of the surveillance that Glenn now rails against.

6. Jonathon Chait wrote a hilarious and revealing post titled “Glenn Greenwald is Ralph Nader“, which prompted Glenn Greenwald to attack Paul Krugman…go read it, you’ll see why. And here is a post detailing the attack on Paul Krugman, for making a reference to the NSA story.

7. You have to give Greenwald credit for taking on people who are way smarter than he is. Here is an exchange between Al Giordano and Glenn Greenwald that has a lot to do with the current NSA revelations, this is a must read if you want to be informed and entertained. I wish Al posted more often, he is amazing.

8. Chez Pazienza wrote a terrific piece called “The Daily Banter’s Official Helpful Media Guide for Interacting With Glenn Greenwald” that is a must read for anyone thinking of saying anything that Glenn Greenwald disagrees with.

9. This little skirmish with Sam Harris is pretty interesting. Sam Harris likes to tell it like it is and Glenn got a little bit of push back from Sam.

10. The last one I’ll throw in the mix is Greenwald’s attack on David Gregory, which I have mixed feelings about. David Gregory asked a horrible question loaded with innuendo and completely blew the opportunity to ask a really good one and then hammer Glenn until he answered it. The question I would have asked is “did you have any contact with Edward Snowden before he took the job at Booz Allen?” A lot of people want to know the answer to that question. It seems to me that the protection a journalist has by saying that someone came to them with information kind of flies out the window IF that “journalist” had something to do with stealing the information. And please, any GG minions, spare me turning that last sentence into an accusation, the word “IF” should be your clue. The act of stealing the information and then publishing it are separate acts.

Bringing it back to the original Glenn Greenwald attack, I think Daniel Serwer’s final tweet to Glenn Greenwald is pure perfection.

DwerwerTweet2

July 7, 2013 Posted by | Media, MSM, Politics | , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Impressions From My Yard – Photos On The 4th

I walked around my yard this morning and this is what I ended up with. When I walked in the house, I thanked my wife for such a beautiful yard. Most of the flowers and plants in our gardens are recycled, either rescued from gardens that my wife has worked on or from the dump, where people throw away perfectly good plants. The rocks were all dug up and hauled by my wife and I over a couple years.. We would go rock hunting periodically, and had one spot that produced a lot of them. My wife is an advanced Master Gardener, certified through Michigan State University.

HouseSM

YellowfallsSM

wildroseSM

DaisiesSM

bkydWSSM

RocksSM

begoniaSM

July 4, 2013 Posted by | Photography, Public Domain | , , , | 1 Comment

Glenn Greenwald, The Polemicist

Jonathan Chait has penned a must read of a column on Glenn Greenwald. Go read the whole thing. Here are a few passages that stuck out to me. (emphasis mine)

The debate over domestic surveillance is not a debate about what we think about Glenn Greenwald. But Greenwald is a fascinating character. His resemblance to Ralph Nader is not one that, so far as I can tell, anybody has thought to make. [...]

For Greenwald, like Nader, the lawyer is the key protagonist in his political drama. Political victory is a series of successful lawsuits. He is wildly litigious:

In 1997, Achatz and Greenwald filed another lawsuit for broken elevators in their building. (They lived on the 32nd floor.) They later moved into another building in Midtown Manhattan, and countersued after being sued by that landlord for having a dog that weighed more than 35 pounds. They sued American Airlines and its parent company for not placing the right number of miles flown in their frequent-flier account.

Greenwald, like Nader, marries an indefatigable mastery of detail with fierce moralism. Every issue he examines has a good side and an evil side. Greenwald, speaking not long ago to the New York Times, said something revealing about his intellectual style:

“I approach my journalism as a litigator,” he said. “People say things, you assume they are lying, and dig for documents to prove it.” [...]

That is the echo of Greenwald’s suspicions of the Democratic agenda. President Obama scaled back some of the Bush administration’s anti-terror policies — torture, warrantless wiretapping — but kept in place others. One could make the case that he did not change enough, but that is not a Greenwald sort of argument. He insists that Obama is worse than Bush. Obama’s health-care reform was not just a step along the way to Greenwald’s ideal, it was a monstrous sellout that probably did no good at all (“there is a reasonable debate to be had among reform advocates over whether this bill is a net benefit or a net harm.”).

This way of looking at the world naturally places one in conflict with most liberals, who are willing to distinguish between gradations of success or failure. Nader and Greenwald believe their analysis not only completely correct, but so obviously correct that the only motivation one could have to disagree is corruption. Good-faith disagreement, or even rank stupidity, is not possible around Greenwald. His liberal critics are lackeys and partisan shills. He may be willing to concede ideological disagreement with self-identified conservatives, but a liberal who disagrees can only be a kept man.

June 28, 2013 Posted by | Politics, The Truth | , , | 2 Comments

A Perfect Example Of Why Congress Has A 10% Approval Rating!

Congressional-Job-Approval-500x313The immigration reform process going on in Washington presents us with a perfect example of why congress is the biggest joke in the country. From Steve Benen at Maddowblog. (emphasis mine)

Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) told Dave Weigel yesterday one of the main reasons and he and his House Republican colleagues will not support comprehensive immigration reform.

“If you’re the White House right now,” he theorized, “and you have a signature law — that is, Obamacare — that is completely a legacy issue for the president, and it’s looking like implementation is going to be a disaster, and if you’re on your heels in terms of these scandals, and you’re flummoxed by the NSA, there’s one issue out there that’s good for the White House. That’s immigration. The question is: How much energy does the White House actually put into getting the legislation, or do they want to keep the issue for 2014?

I hear this quite a bit from the right. Democrats say they want to pass reform legislation, the argument goes, but it’s a sham. What those rascally Democrats really want, conservatives argue, is for immigration reform to fail so Democrats can use the issue against the GOP in the 2014 midterms and beyond.

And every time I hear this, I’m convinced our public discourse has slipped a little deeper into madness.

Look, this isn’t complicated: Democrats want to pass immigration reform. President Obama wants to pass immigration reform. When the reform bill reached the Senate floor yesterday, it received 100% support from Democratic senators, and support is expected to be at a similar level among House Dems. If the party were engaged in some elaborate ruse, they’ve apparently managed to fool everyone, including themselves.

In fact, I’d love to hear Roskam and others who share his ideology explain the electoral rationale behind their strategy. He seems to be arguing, “Democrats want immigration reform to fail so they can use it against us, therefore, we should make sure reform fails so that they can use it against us. That’ll show ‘em!”

I think there is also something missing from the above snippet, the fact that Republicans never want to give President Obama a win. They see any legislation that gets passed as a win for the president. Maybe they aren’t aware that he has already been reelected and “giving him a win” isn’t going to help him electorally. It might help his legacy, but is trashing President Obama’s legacy worth more to them than representing their constituents? It could be the reason why they are less popular than child molesters.

June 28, 2013 Posted by | 2014 Elections, Politics, Republican Party | , | 9 Comments

Friday Night Tunes – Rickie Lee Jones “The Last Chance Texaco” Live

June 21, 2013 Posted by | Music | Leave a comment

Edward Snowden Charged For NSA Leaks

From NBC News:

Federal prosecutors filed espionage charges against alleged National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, officials familiar with the process said. Authorities have also begun the process of getting Snowden back to the United States to stand trial.

The officials did not describe the charges in detail because they’ve been filed under seal in federal court in Alexandria, Va. The documents are not publicly available.

According to officials, charges accuse Snowden of violating federal espionage laws by sharing classified documents with people who were not cleared to receive them. Charges also accuse him of stealing government property.

If only someone had told Edward Snowden that books have been written about what the NSA does. It’s a damn shame to see him spend years in prison for such ignorance.

June 21, 2013 Posted by | Justice System, National Security | , , , | 2 Comments

President Obama’s Speech In Germany – June 19, 2013

June 19, 2013 Posted by | President Barack Obama | , , , , | 1 Comment

Saturday Morning Toons – Sam and Ralph

June 15, 2013 Posted by | Humor | | Leave a comment

Friday Night Tunes – Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush “Don’t Give Up”

June 14, 2013 Posted by | General, Music | , , | Leave a comment

The Top 5 Exaggerations By Glenn Greenwald On NSA!

I have analyzed Glenn Greenwald’s writing many times over the years. His slick use of rhetorical devices, and his propensity to exaggerate, jump out at me and smack me upside the head when I read his writings. I’ve compiled what I think are the top 5 exaggerations by Glenn Greenwald since the NSA story broke. These are mostly from his appearances, where he apparently feels more free to exaggerate than when he commits something to paper.

Before I get to the list, I feel it is my duty to point out Glenn’s incredible hypocrisy about the right of privacy.

In his one big case as a lawyer, defending the white supremacist Matt Hale, Glenn Greenwald was smacked down by the judge for unethically recording witnesses without their knowledge. Mr. Privacy, Glenn Greenwald, invaded the privacy of witnesses in order to defend that vile creature.

Seizing the opportunity, Defendants’ counsel (Glenn Greenwald) hit the record button and commenced surreptitiously taping the conversation with Dippold. The conversation lasted for some time, covering in detail Dippold’s contacts with Hale, the WCOTC, and various other parties having an interest in the underlying litigation. Dippold never asked if Defendants’ counsel was taping the conversation. Nor did Defendants’ counsel make any representations to Dippold suggesting that the conversation was or [**4] was not being taped. [...]

Approximately one month later, Plaintiff discovered the existence of another tape. This tape pertained to a conversation between Defendants’ counsel and Ian Sigel, another witness in the case. [...]

Plaintiff moved to compel disclosure of these tapes, arguing that this conduct was unethical and therefore vitiated any attorney work-product privilege that may have attached to these recordings, and sought a protective order prohibiting any further recordings. The magistrate judge granted both motions, finding defense counsel’s conduct unethical under two separate rules: Local Rule 83.58.4(a)(4), prohibiting “dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation;” and Local Rule 83.54.4, stating “a lawyer shall not … use methods of obtaining evidence that violate the legal rights of [another] person.”

Now to the top 5 exaggerations by Glenn Greenwald on the NSA story.

Number 5

Here is Glenn Greewnald from On Point with Tom Ashbrook, on NPR.

“What has been damaged by these revelations is the reputations and credibility of the people in power who are building this massive spying apparatus completely in the dark and with no accountability.”

Except Glenn, that is a massive exaggeration. Here is James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence from the Volokh Conspiracy.

  • By order of the FISC, the Government is prohibited from indiscriminately sifting through the telephony metadata acquired under the program. All information that is acquired under this program is subject to strict, court-imposed restrictions on review and handling. The court only allows the data to be queried when there is a reasonable suspicion, based on specific facts, that the particular basis for the query is associated with a foreign terrorist organization. Only specially cleared counterterrorism personnel specifically trained in the Court-approved procedures may even access the records.
  • All information that is acquired under this order is subject to strict restrictions on handling and is overseen by the Department of Justice and the FISA Court. Only a very small fraction of the records are ever reviewed because the vast majority of the data is not responsive to any terrorism-related query.

In short, there’s less difference between this “collection first” program and the usual law enforcement data search than first meets the eye.  In the standard law enforcement search, the government establishes the relevance of its inquiry and is then allowed to collect the data.  In the new collection-first model, the government collects the data and then must establish the relevance of each inquiry before it’s allowed to conduct a search.

If you trust the government to follow the rules, both models end up in much the same place.  I realize that some folks simply will not trust the government to follow those rules, but it’s hard to imagine a system with more checks and restrictions and doublechecks than one that includes all three branches and both parties looking over NSA’s shoulder.

Number 4

From Glenn Greenwald’s original article on the PRISM program. (not linked)

When the FAA was first enacted, defenders of the statute argued that a significant check on abuse would be the NSA’s inability to obtain electronic communications without the consent of the telecom and internet companies that control the data. But the Prism program renders that consent unnecessary, as it allows the agency to directly and unilaterally seize the communications off the companies’ servers.

But Glenn, that’s not true either. Most of the service providers who he accused of allowing “direct and unilateral” access have denied the claim.

Here is a piece that blows away this exaggeration/lie by Glenn. From The New York Times…

But instead of adding a back door to their servers, the companies were essentially asked to erect a locked mailbox and give the government the key, people briefed on the negotiations said. Facebook, for instance, built such a system for requesting and sharing the information, they said.

The data shared in these ways, the people said, is shared after company lawyers have reviewed the FISA request according to company practice. It is not sent automatically or in bulk, and the government does not have full access to company servers. Instead, they said, it is a more secure and efficient way to hand over the data.

Number 3

On CNN, Glenn Greenwald said the following…

“There is a massive apparatus within the United States government that with complete secrecy has been building this enormous structure that has only one goal, and that is to destroy privacy and anonymity, not just in the United States but around the world,” charged Glenn Greenwald, a reporter for the British newspaper “The Guardian,” speaking on CNN. “That is not hyperbole. That is their objective.

First of all, “complete secrecy” is a major exaggeration, considering I can search in Google and find many articles about the center that the NSA built in Utah. As a matter of fact, a Google search landed me this press release from January 6, 2011 about the groundbreaking ceremony for the new “data center” in Utah. Complete secrecy Glenn?

He goes on to say that the “only goal” is to “destroy privacy and anonymity.” You see, in Glenn’s world, it doesn’t even have a little bit to do with preventing terrorism. The United States government, collectively, thinking as one giant Dr. Evil, is “only” out to destroy your privacy and anonymity. But it isn’t just American citizens that the United States government wants to do that to, it’s the entire world people, don’t you see? And then Glenn thinks that just by saying, “That’s not hyperbole, That is their objective” – that somehow it makes it true. The only thing missing is an evil laugh and a pinky raised to your lip.

I’m sure there are many psychologists out there that are having fun with Glenn’s paranoid exaggerations. He is a case study in paranoia, if you ask me. Did you ask me?

Number 2

In one of his many rounds to the gullible media, he talked to NPR and said the following…

The National Security Agency is currently devoted to the objective of creating a worldwide surveillance net that allows it to monitor what all human beings are doing and how they’re behaving and interacting with one another.

In that statement, he takes it even further than in others. He adds the word “monitor” to his hyperbole, which implies real-time snooping in most people’s minds. It begs the question, how many “oppressors” does he think are employed at the NSA? And damn, they must be getting overtime if it allows them to “monitor what all human beings are doing and how they are behaving and interacting with one another.” I’m sorry, that’s just freaking crazy. And anyone who excuses that type of hyperbole is just enabling this sick man.

I think David Simon characterized this stupidity best in his piece called “We are shocked, shocked…”

Is it just me or does the entire news media — as well as all the agitators and self-righteous bloviators on both sides of the aisle — not understand even the rudiments of electronic intercepts and the manner in which law enforcement actually uses such intercepts? It would seem so.

Because the national eruption over the rather inevitable and understandable collection of all raw data involving telephonic and internet traffic by Americans would suggest that much of our political commentariat, many of our news gatherers and a lot of average folk are entirely without a clue.

You would think that the government was listening in to the secrets of 200 million Americans from the reaction and the hyperbole being tossed about. And you would think that rather than a legal court order which is an inevitable consequence of legislation that we drafted and passed, something illegal had been discovered to the government’s shame.

Number 1

And the number 1 exaggeration is……drum roll please……this little gem from his appearance on Morning Joe where Mika dared to challenge him.

The objective of this is to enable the NSA to monitor EVERY SINGLE CONVERSATION AND EVERY SINGLE FORM OF HUMAN BEHAVIOR!

Ding, ding…..we have a winner! “…NSA to monitor EVERY SINGLE FORM OF HUMAN BEHAVIOR” Chew on that one for a while. How many millions of NSA employees do you suppose it would take to do that?

How in the hell can Glenn Greenwald get away with saying such crap on national television without someone challenging him? Anyone falling for his hyperbole and paranoia really needs to wake up, do a reality check and then get a grip. It’s one thing to be outraged about our government stepping on our privacy rights, with checks and balances within all three branches of government, but it is quite another to buy into the idea that the objective of the NSA is to “monitor every single conversation and every single form of human behavior”.

Come on, why the exaggerations? Is it because the truth doesn’t accomplish Glenn Greenwald’s goal of world domination? (That was me exaggerating.)

P.S. When I first learned that my phone calls were being kept track of, well over 30 years ago, when I first saw a phone bill that had the numbers listed and the times the calls were made, I was a little concerned. I didn’t freak out, I just accepted that with new technology, that was the world we lived in. That was 30 freaking years ago. Since then, Google can target ads for snowblowers on damn near every web page I go to, because one day, I did a search for snowblowers.

If you weren’t aware that all your electronic communications are out there for anyone with even a little bit of technical ability to grab on to, I really think you need to pay a little more attention.

I didn’t like the idea of it over 30 years ago, but having accepted that fact so long ago, I have a hard time getting too upset about it now. I take comfort in the fact that I am not a criminal and frequently think that if someone is “monitoring” my calls or emails, they are bored shitless.

June 13, 2013 Posted by | Media, MSM, National Security, Politics, Professional Left | , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Glenn Greenwald Supported President Bush As He Signed The Patriot Act!

glenn-greenwaldThe Patriot Act was signed on October 26, 2001 and this is what Glenn Greenwald wrote in the preface to his own book – his words, not mine…(emphasis IS mine)

This is not to say that I was not angry about the attacks. I believed that Islamic extremism posed a serious threat to the country, and I wanted an aggressive response from our government. I was ready to stand behind President Bush and I wanted him to exact vengeance on the perpetrators and find ways to decrease the likelihood of future attacks. During the following two weeks, my confidence in the Bush administration grew as the president gave a series of serious, substantive, coherent, and eloquent speeches that struck the right balance between aggression and restraint. And I was fully supportive of both the president’s ultimatum to the Taliban and the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan when our demands were not met. Well into 2002, the president’s approval ratings remained in the high 60 percent range, or even above 70 percent, and I was among those who strongly approved of his performance. [...]

During the lead-up to the invasion, I was concerned that the hell-bent focus on invading Iraq was being driven by agendas and strategic objectives that had nothing to do with terrorism or the 9/11 attacks. The overt rationale for the invasion was exceedingly weak, particularly given that it would lead to an open-ended, incalculably costly, and intensely risky preemptive war. Around the same time, it was revealed that an invasion of Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein had been high on the agenda of various senior administration officials long before September 11. Despite these doubts, concerns, and grounds for ambivalence, I had not abandoned my trust in the Bush administration. Between the president’s performance in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the swift removal of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the fact that I wanted the president to succeed, because my loyalty is to my country and he was the leader of my country, I still gave the administration the benefit of the doubt. I believed then that the president was entitled to have his national security judgment deferred to, and to the extent that I was able to develop a definitive view, I accepted his judgment that American security really would be enhanced by the invasion of this sovereign country.

While I was screaming at my TV and marching in the streets in protest of the Patriot Act, the Afghanistan War and later the Iraq War, Glenn Greenwald “was ready to stand behind President Bush” and wanted to “exact VENGEANCE on the perpetrators.” And he “believed then that the president was entitled to have his national security judgement deferred to”, which of course included the passage of The Patriot Act on October 26, 2001.

So yeah, Glenn Greenwald, why exactly should I listen to him now?

June 7, 2013 Posted by | Afghanistan War, Justice System, Media, National Security, Politics, Professional Left, The Truth | , , , , , , , | 35 Comments

Late Night Laughs – Richard Prior’s Mudbone (NSFW)

May 30, 2013 Posted by | Humor | , , | Leave a comment

In Search Of A Scandal, Any Scandal Will Do!

I find myself thinking of this quote from Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride a lot lately. It is overused, I know, but it works so well.

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

The word I’ve been hearing a lot lately that fits Inigo’s observation is “scandal”.

According to Merriam Webster, the word scandal is defined as

2 : loss of or damage to reputation caused by actual or apparent violation of morality or propriety.

The #1 definition was a religious one.

We’ve all heard the Republicans and their stenographers, the press, say the word “scandal” about a million times in the last couple of months. But do any of these issues really qualify as a “scandal”? I say NO.

The Benghazi Scandal That Isn’t

American embassies and consulates have been attacked many times in our history, particularly in dangerous areas. Bob Cesca did an amazing job in compiling the attacks on America during the Bush administration. Here is a portion of that post.

January 22, 2002. Calcutta, India. Gunmen associated with Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami attack the U.S. Consulate. Five people are killed.

June 14, 2002. Karachi, Pakistan. Suicide bomber connected with al-Qaida attacks the U.S. Consulate, killing 12 and injuring 51.

October 12, 2002. Denpasar, Indonesia. U.S. diplomatic offices bombed as part of a string of “Bali Bombings.” No fatalities.

February 28, 2003. Islamabad, Pakistan. Several gunmen fire upon the U.S. Embassy. Two people are killed.

May 12, 2003. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Armed al-Qaida terrorists storm the diplomatic compound killing 36 people including nine Americans. The assailants committed suicide by detonating a truck bomb.

July 30, 2004. Tashkent, Uzbekistan. A suicide bomber from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan attacks the U.S. Embassy, killing two people.

December 6, 2004. Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Al-Qaida terrorists storm the U.S. Consulate and occupy the perimeter wall. Nine people are killed.

March 2, 2006. Karachi, Pakistan again. Suicide bomber attacks the U.S. Consulate killing four people, including U.S. diplomat David Foy who was directly targeted by the attackers. (I wonder if Lindsey Graham or Fox News would even recognize the name “David Foy.” This is the third Karachi terrorist attack in four years on what’s considered American soil.)

September 12, 2006. Damascus, Syria. Four armed gunmen shouting “Allahu akbar” storm the U.S. Embassy using grenades, automatic weapons, a car bomb and a truck bomb. Four people are killed, 13 are wounded.

January 12, 2007. Athens, Greece. Members of a Greek terrorist group called the Revolutionary Struggle fire a rocket-propelled grenade at the U.S. Embassy. No fatalities.

March 18, 2008. Sana’a, Yemen. Members of the al-Qaida-linked Islamic Jihad of Yemen fire a mortar at the U.S. Embassy. The shot misses the embassy, but hits nearby school killing two.

July 9, 2008. Istanbul, Turkey. Four armed terrorists attack the U.S. Consulate. Six people are killed.

September 17, 2008. Sana’a, Yemen. Terrorists dressed as military officials attack the U.S. Embassy with an arsenal of weapons including RPGs and detonate two car bombs. Sixteen people are killed, including an American student and her husband (they had been married for three weeks when the attack occurred). This is the second attack on this embassy in seven months.

I’m racking my brain trying to remember a “scandal” coming from any of these attacks.

The idea that changing “talking points” to not tip off the terrorists responsible for the attacks was some sort of massive conspiracy to make the President look good is just ridiculous. We shouldn’t forget that this “scandal” started with Mitt Romney putting his foot in his mouth during the campaign and since then, the GOP has doubled down on it many times. They were so sure that it was the one thing that could take the President out, if only someone would listen. The real reason that Republicans are trying to create a “scandal” where there is none is because they can’t accept that they got their asses kicked again by President Obama. It’s one giant case of sore-loseritus. The next step is for the Republicans to ask for a “do over” or a “mulligan” on the 2012 elections. Get over it, you lost. And a free tip for you Republicans, Americans don’t like sore losers, you look like fucking weasels.

And remember, the media and the GOP are calling this an “Obama scandal”. First off, there IS no scandal there. There was no violation of “morality or propriety” by anybody, let alone the President. There hasn’t been any connections to the President at all. With the release of the emails that Jon Karl of ABC News was duped about (being generous), that show that the White House let the agencies involved fight over the infamous talking points, this whole issue should be but a bad memory. And my god, they were freaking talking points. Talking points that were prefaced by Susan Rice in the following way.

“Let me tell you the– the best information we have at present.  First of all, there’s an FBI investigation which is ongoing.  And we look to that investigation to give us the definitive word as to what transpired.  But putting together the best information that we have available to us today, our current assessment is…”

What exactly is so hard to understand about this, unless you just don’t want to understand…then it is understandable. :)

The AP And Fox News Leak Investigations Continue reading

May 30, 2013 Posted by | Hypocrisy Watch, Media, MSM, Politics, President Barack Obama, Republican Party | , , , | 3 Comments

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