Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

CIA admits breaking law, violating Constitution

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The CIA is not permitted to mount operations inside the US—and the Executive Branch is not allowed to spy on the Judiciary or the Legislative Branches. The CIA? Here’s the NY Times headline: “C.I.A. Admits Penetrating Senate Intelligence Computers”.

Mark Mazzetti reports:

An internal investigation by the Central Intelligence Agency has found that its officers improperly penetrated a computer network used by the Senate Intelligence Committee in preparing its report on the C.I.A.’s detention and interrogation program.

In a statement issued Thursday morning, a C.I.A. spokesman said that agency’s inspector general had concluded that C.I.A. officers had acted inappropriately by gaining access to the computers.

The statement said that John O. Brennan, the C.I.A. director, had apologized to the two senior members of the Senate Intelligence Committee and that he would set up an internal accountability board to review the matter. The board will be led by former Senator Evan Bayh, Democrat of Indiana.

The statement gave almost no specifics about the findings of the report, written by David Buckley, the agency’s inspector general.

Officials said there was a tense meeting earlier this week when Mr. Brennan briefed the two senators — Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California and Saxby Chambliss, Republican of Georgia. The officials said Ms. Feinstein had confronted Mr. Brennan about past public statements on the issue, in which he defended the agency’s actions.

When the C.I.A.’s monitoring of the committee became public in March, Mr. Brennan said, “When the facts come out on this, I think a lot of people who are claiming that there has been this tremendous sort of spying and monitoring and hacking will be proved wrong.” [And indeed Mr. Brennan, who never should have even been offered his job, has been proved wrong. One hopes he will resign---clearly the CIA is not under his control.- LG]

Last year, the C.I.A. gained access to a computer network, reserved solely for Senate investigators working at an agency facility in Northern Virginia, after officials suspected the intelligence committee had improperly obtained an internal C.I.A. report about the detention program, which is now defunct.

Shortly after the C.I.A. action was made public, Ms. Feinstein gave a blistering speech on the floor of the Senate accusing the agency of infringing on the committee’s role as overseer. The C.I.A. statement was first reported by McClatchy. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 July 2014 at 9:38 am

Posted in Daily life

When did “toughness” (particularly ineffectual toughness) become so important to the US?

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Teddy Roosevelt (“Speak softly and carry a big stick”) would be amazed at the US today: “Shout at the top of your lungs and carry a twig” seems to be the new motto. Adam Gopnik takes a look at the phenomenon:

Barack Obama is not a tough guy. Everybody rolls him. He’s a wimp, a weak sister; he won’t stand up for himself or his country. Vladimir Putin, a true tough guy, blows planes out of the air, won’t apologize, walks around half-naked. Life, it seems, is like a prison yard, and Obama cowers in a corner. “It would be a hellish thing to live with such timidity. … He’s scared of Vladimir Putin,” one Fox News contributor said about the President. But this kind of thing is not confined to the weirder fringes: Maureen Dowd pointed out a while ago that former fans of Obama “now make derogatory remarks about your manhood,” while the Wall Street Journal ’s editorial page runs a kind of compendium of “weak sister” pieces every morning, urging the President, at one point, to make more “unambiguous threats”—making unambiguous threats evidently being the real man’s method of getting his way.

“Barack Obama is the first female president,” The Daily Caller, a Web site co-founded by a former adviser to Dick Cheney, blared, without a trace of irony or consciousness that female might not be such a bad thing for a President to be. The Daily Caller lists seven basic “manly” traits—courage, industry, resolution, self-reliance, discipline, honor, and manliness, that last one bafflingly redundant but, hey, that’s the way men are—and shows how Obama fails in regard to each. (He’s terrified of his wife, apparently, though one would think that this is actually a classic Jimmy Stewart-style American sign of husbandliness.) Toni Morrison wrote memorably, in these pages, that Bill Clinton had become, in a symbolic sense, “our first black President”—meaning that Clinton’s perceived faults were flaws of appetite, of a kind that a racist imagination traditionally ascribed to black men. “His unpoliced sexuality became the focus of the persecution,” Morrison wrote. Obama’s perceived flaws are the ancient effeminate ones, of the kind that a bigoted tradition ascribed to women; above all, the criticism reflects the President’s unapologetic distaste for violent confrontation and for making loud threats, no matter how empty those threats may obviously be. (The joke, of course, is that, with Clinton as with Obama, the symbolic substitute may well precede the real thing.)

Obama—contemptibly, in this view—offers off-ramps in the direction of reason even when faced with the most fanatical opponents, who are bent on revenge for mysterious, sectarian motives, and yet he still tries to appease them. And that’s just the Republicans in Congress. Shouldn’t he be tougher with bad guys abroad? The curious thing, though, is how much the talk about manliness—and Obama’s lack of it—is purely and entirely about appearances. In the current crisis over the downed Malaysian plane, all the emphasis is on how it looks or how it might be made to look—far more than on American interests and much less on simple empathy for the nightmarish fate of the people on board. The tough-talkers end up grudgingly admitting that what the President has done—as earlier, with Syria—is about all that you could do, given the circumstances. Their own solutions are either a further variant on the kinds of sanctions that are already in place—boycott the World Cup in Russia!—or else are too militarily reckless to be taken seriously. Not even John McCain actually thinks that we should start a war over whether Donetsk and Luhansk should be regarded as part of Ukraine or Russia. The tough guys basically just think that Obama should have looked scarier. The anti-effeminate have very little else to suggest by way of practical action—except making those unambiguous threats and, apparently, baring your teeth while you do.

Why does this belligerent rhetoric still stir us? … (Hint: it was the liberals who did it. – LG]

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 July 2014 at 9:21 am

DLC Weber on UFO handle—and BBS again

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SOTD 31 July 2014

I couldn’t resist using the striped brush again. I do like it: nice handle, nice feel, excellent performance, and good looking. the lather, from HTGAM’s Meta Nectar, I believe, was superb. I did do palm lathering, a step I usually omit with HTGAM, and it did improve the lather somewhat.

The DLC Weber has a very nice feel, and I think the UFO aluminum bronze handle is a good match. Black and gold go together well—thus I like the look of my Gillette Super Adjustable in gold.

Three passes, with a little clean-up at the end of the third pass—probably should change the blade—and a splash of Speick, a great aftershave.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 July 2014 at 9:04 am

Posted in Shaving

Can Congress Rein In the Spies?

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David Cole asks the question and has an answer worth reading at the NY Review of Books.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 July 2014 at 12:21 pm

Terrorism in the Israeli Attack on Gaza

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Glenn Greenwald writes at The Intercept:

As I’ve written many times before, “terrorism” is, and from the start was designed to be, almost entirely devoid of discernible meaning. It’s a fear-mongering slogan, lacking any consistent application, intended to end rational debate and justify virtually any conduct by those who apply the term. But to the extent it means anything beyond that, it typically refers to the killing of civilians as a means of furthering political or military goals.

Below are two charts reflecting the deaths of civilians, soldiers and “militants” in both Gaza and Israel since the July 8 Israeli attack began. The statistics used are unduly generous toward Israel, since “militants” in Gaza are often nothing more than residents who take up arms to defend their homes against an invading and occupying army. Even with that generous interpretation, these numbers, standing alone, tell a powerful story:

graph-1

graph-2

If you landed on earth from another planet this week, knowing nothing other than the most common use of the word “terrorism,” which side do you think would most frequently be referred to as “terrorists”?

Often, the most vivid illustration of the criminality of this attack comes not from data but from isolated stories. Yesterday, for instance, “in Khan Younis, five members of the Najjar family, which lost 21 people in a previous strike, were killed.” Meanwhile, “in the Al Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza, an airstrike from an F-16 killed the mayor, Anis Abu Shamala, and four others in his home, some of whom had taken refuge there from intense artillery shelling nearby.”

At the same time, the Israeli government’s messaging machine quickly switched from hyping rocket attacks, which were causing relatively little damage, to featuring what it began calling “terror tunnels”. The U.S. media dutifully followed suit, with CNN anchor (and former AIPAC employee) Wolf Blitzer touring a “terror tunnel” led around by the IDF and his flashlight, while the New York Times’ Jodi Rudoren did the same in an article headlined “Tunnels Lead Right to the Heart of Israeli Fear,” quoting “Israeli military officials”, “an Israeli military spokesman”, and “Israeli experts”. But a separate article in the NYT highlighted how these “terror tunnels” are actually used:

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 July 2014 at 11:58 am

The Only Job With an Industry Devoted to Helping People Quit

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People who got a law degree only to discover that they hate practicing law now have quite a bit of help in getting out of the field.

Update: Link fixed. Thanks to Justin Dearing.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 July 2014 at 9:51 am

Posted in Business, Law

GOP willing to seriously damage Federal government

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Because the president is a Democrat—and perhaps also for racist reasons—the GOP in Congress has deliberately tried to sabotage the Federal government. Words fail me, but the evidence is hard to deny. Read this Kevin Drum post. “Mean-spirited” doesn’t touch it. The GOP is deliberately damaging the country simply because they failed to win the presidency. And/or because the GOP is overrun with racists.

In the meantime, Sam Brownback continues to destroy Kansas.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 July 2014 at 9:50 am

Posted in Government, GOP, Congress

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