In news from around the web:
Taliban say peace talks not harmed by video of urinating Marines
Outgoing Haley Barbour stirs up a shit storm by pardoning a bunch of violent felons
Comcast admits that SOPA would make the intertubes less secure, not more
PC shipments are down 6%, while Apple increased its market share by 21%
James O’Keefe commits voter fraud in order to commit voter fraud.
So what do you guys have on your plates today?
Enjoying the first significant snowfall (close to the lake) of the year.
@PeakVT: We barely had a light dusting here, and people are freaking out like they always do when snow shows up.
We are expecting 3-5 inches, and when you are a Ski Town, that’s great news!
Snow Day. Kid home. Being a parent makes one take a closer look at the delicate balance between calling snowdays and losing a few busloads of kids every year.
@WereBear: We have no snow in Madison at the moment – weird and disturbing, it is – but several inches are expected today. OTOH, I was was hoping that when I woke up this morning I would be gazing from my window to the streets below on a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow.
In my neck of the woods, a small businessman was doing it really, really wrong.
This part about the Haley Barbour story struck me..”The statement went on to say 13 of the 26 inmates released from custody cost the state so much money due to their medical expenses and can be returned to custody if they commit another crime.”
Another Republican way to balance a budget. Let them loose without health insurance to die.
@Omnes Omnibus: The storm I’m referencing starts in that neck of the woods. We did not really have a white Christmas here for the first time in a long long time; it was disturbing.
Finally got cold in Minneapolis yesterday. Went from 60 on Tuesday to low teens & a nasty wind. Its supposed to snow but I didn’t pay attention to how much. Another odd winter.
Looks like Willard has chosen his defense to vulture capitalism. Obama HATES the free market! That will play well with the base but we’ll have to see how it does with the low-information middle
TPM has a couple of good, pro-pardon in general (i.e., without getting into the specifics of the Barbour pardons), commentaries, one from Josh Marshall, another from a reader.
LOL! another spin headline.
actually it helps the talibs recruitment.
Still think we are losing because of resource starvation, Sooner?
In the battle for hearts and minds, America consistantly gets its ass handed to it.
@Mudge: It’s just the icing on the hypocrisy cake. Because some of those people, with no skills with which to secure employment and health insurance, will commit crimes (likely violent ones because that’s what they do) in order to get back inside where they can be cared for.
This thing with Haley is a real shitstorm down here in MS. Its speculated that he issued so many to cover the real favor: Pardoning Jackson socialiate Karen Kirby for driving drunk and killing two young doctors who were fresh out of residency
The Taliban reaction is interesting. Question is, is it because of the Taliban leadership feeling the impacts getting closer, or is it for strategic reasons, i.e. the thought that the sooner the Western forces leave, the sooner the Taliban can overthrow the Karzai regime.
@Samara Morgan: I know that you have this bizarre desperate need for some kind of validation from whatever kind of straw man you’ve constructed of me.* FWIW, I am neither capable of, nor inclined to give you whatever it is you are looking for.
Perhaps you should go somewhere else, because this isn’t working for you.
*I’ll note in passing that dynamic seems to govern a lot of your interactions with people on this blog.
@SRW1: More likely the second rather than the first. And does anybody outside of AFPak really give a shit?
Karzai, the ISI, and the Taliban deserve each other.
Haley might become a spokesperson but he just said goodbye to any higher office, imo.
@Soonergrunt: do you need a link?
you SAID that we were “losing” in afghanistan because of resource starvation.
Isnt that true?
i dont like liars and spinners that want to sweep things they said into the memory hole.
teh interwebz are forever.
Damn, I envy you like Mitt Romney. In NYC, all we’re getting is rain. Grey, wet, and cold — blergh. I far prefer snow.
@Soonergrunt: then lets GTFO.
after 10 years, several trillion dollars, and thousands of dead or wounded american soljahs, lets just fold our tents.
we are gettin’ NOTHING out of A-stan except shame and dishonor. Just like Iraq.
Can we go NAOW?
Well, it’s been raining like hell for two days now. They say that it will be warm all day (in the high to mid-40s) and then “flash freeze” this evening with 2-4 overnight.
Wonderful. I have a financial aid night at a local high school that is out in the honest-to-gawd sticks. Hopefully, it will wrap up before the flash freeze hits the roads. And the overnight will allow us a snow day from work. I don’t count on that, but I live in hope.
The Pale Scot
Wonder what what the racial makeup of those pardons are.
every timetime Republicans play the “clwarfarefare” card (and that is what Mitt is doing) it is not aimed at voters but aimed at cowing the Dems into dropping the economic attack, and in the last 30 years it has a 1successcess rate.
@Soonergrunt: do you relly think that video isnt going to harm negitiations?
AMG you are fucking stupid then.
True enough. That was one of the reasons I had hoped the salamander would carry the charge at least to start. One of the biggest issues the Dems have had over the last 40 years is a refusal to push back at the framing & the memes put out by the GOP. It seems like now would be the perfect time to take this one head on. Too many people are hurting from the policies the GOP has put in place for them to ignore how we got here.
I think Newt and Perry have already said enough that if Obama raises the subject and he gets pushback from the press he can inoculate himself on the subject by saying “but even Newt agrees with me”>
The Barbour story is just bizarre.
I’m guessing he won’t be helping Mitt out in Mississippi next fall…
Well, can’t disagree with your last sentence. But the fact that nobody outside of AfPak gives a shit is a problem. Because there’s a war going on and people are still dying. Some of them are Americans.
A judge has put a hold on 21 of the pardons. Barbour pardoned about 200. I just read the clip on AP.
This is so stupid for Barbour to do that he has insured his Republican credentials. He’s ready to run for president.
We are going to be getting windy days tomorrow and the next day. Possible snow showers tomorrow afternoon. Otherwise, rain showers. This is west NJ.
#21 plz don’t go if the temp starts dropping late this afternoon. Now, say, thx Mommy.
JR in WVa
Good job, Mr. Barbour!
Now we don’t have to worry about him any more!
JR in WVa
And Mr. O’Keefe, shouldn’t he get to visit a penal institution, and try out the inside?
What a confirmed Dope ! Conspire to break the law to show that breaking the law can be done. Yeah, that’s a good idea!
“You’ll find out” the law breaker says!
And just to expand upon JGabriel’s comment above (#19), it’s not even cold here in the urban hellhole. It’s forecast to be 57 today, in the middle of January! We’ve had only a few days of freezing or sub-freezing temperatures this winter. Crikey, the last accumulated snowfall we had here occurred on October 30.
Travelled up to Poughkeepsie last week by train and the Hudson River was completely free of ice. Living here since 1995, I’ve never seen that before in January. All this makes me even more dyspeptic than usual, next to autumn, winter is the season I live for.
There, now that I’ve got complaining about the weather out of the way, the “Memogate” scandal that is now roiling Pakistan, which may well bring down the Zadari/Gilani government with a military coup, should be on people’s radar. The videotape of US Marine snipers urinating over Afghan corpses does become implicated in the incendiary relations between the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
If a video clip of US marines peeing on Afghans’ dead bodies turns out not to be incendiary, I’m guessing that it means things among all the parties concerned were already as bad as they could be without a full-on war breaking out — which no one was dumb enough to start anyway. So thank heavens, I guess, for small mercies.
Here’s a Boston Herald story about one of O’Keefe’s operatives getting busted by a woman who knew the man he was impersonating–he had died within the past 10 days.
This passage stood out:
The #1 reason I dislike the modern right is not their wack-job ideas or penchant for making shit up, it’s the fact that they’re assholes.
@JR in WVa: From the sounds of it, he thinks they were careful not to break the law by identifying themselves as the dead person. From the way I read the statute, he didn’t have a lawyer look over it beforehand or he wouldn’t have even attempted the stunt. But then, so far he isn’t identified as one of the participants so I guess he most likely isn’t personally in any legal jeopardy. The morons who participated, on the other hand…..
I don’t get pissing on dead bodies. Live ones maybe would make sense but WTF?
Also, whats with videoing yourself doing dumb shit?
@geg6: Drive safe. We get ice storms here–nice thick coating of glass on top of everything that makes driving more into pinball avoidance.
@Samara Morgan: You seem to have (not coincidentally) missed the part wherein I stated it was time to go home when OBL got ventilated.
And the part where I noted that we were drawing down there.
And the part where I said (a long time ago, and more than once) that we would never ‘win’ in the conventional sense that most Americans think of in Afghanistan.
So really–just who the hell do you think you are debating?
Because knowing that would require something you’ve shown a complete inability to manage, which is a grip on the actual reality of either the situation on the ground there, or in this blog.
ASCAP saw what you did there.
If O’Keefe’s moron friends tell the authorities this whole voter-fraud attempt was his idea, that he put them up to it, wouldn’t he still be on the hook for conspiring to commit the crime? I see no real reason why his buds would want to take the fall for him on a Federal rap when they’re looking at jail time themselves.
Kitteh just wants to play.
Self-loathing is unhealthy.
Conspiracy. And such things don’t happen without interstate phone calls and emails, so wire fraud as well.
Thanks mommy. But, sadly, daddy (my employer) gets the final say and he says you gotta go unless the high school calls to cancel. I do not expect them to, as I’ve driven there in years past in blizzard conditions. They are all farmers out there and think you’re a wuss if you are afraid to drive in a blizzard or ice storm at night.
@ burnspbesq: Fair use.
@ m_c: If you cannot see the connections from resource starvation through stress and exhaustion to appalling behavior, then you aren’t looking. This is not a defense of the marines; their behavior was completely unacceptable.
The Moar You Know
They hate us for our freedom. To pee.
@Soonergrunt: that is a spin headline, which contradicts itself. I object to you throwing it out there like it means anything.
and you might have said all that, but you also said we are “losing” in Afghanistan because we don’t have the resources to “win”.
I pointed out that 30k taliban are asswhupping 430k combined US/Karzai/NATO forces.
it sounds like there are plenty of “resources” to me.
@Omnes Omnibus: i object to the headline that sooner uncritically reprinted.
OF COURSE that video is going to cause HUGE PROBLEMS with the negotiations.
and anyone except an America-fuck-yeah bot like sooner can see it.
@burnspbesq: i dont lie or spin, you creepy old crotch-sniffer.
if anything im brutally honest.
@Amir Khalid: i agree. the reason the talib spokeperson said that is just kabuki for negotiating leverage.
OF COURSE that video is going to make trouble for the US, and not just in A-stan.
Let’s see, day started with hauling daughter to a doctor appointment at 8:15 before which she couldn’t eat or have coffee; sort of like having to take a short road trip with an irate werewolf. Then home to do laundry and haul firewood up on the back porch before we FINALLY get the first significant snow of the winter, try to figure out why the color printer/fax/copier isn’t faxing, make some treats for and go see my 85 year old auntie who I love dearly. Aside from being a wonderful person, you gotta love people like her – she and I were discussing politics at Thanksgiving and she referred to Newt Gingrich as “that unmitigated miserable sonofabitch”. I’ll tell you, it’s always nice to get to talk to an unreconstructed honest-to-god FDR Democrat in person. As far as she’s concerned, all Republicans were and are the greedy spawn of Satan, with the possible exception of Grandpa Ike.
Patty-cake, patty-cake….and such a scrumptious little morsel of Kiwi for the kitteh.
Here’s a link to a lovely tribute to Brad Friedel by Guardian football writer Paul Wilson that I think would be of interest to you:
Here in NE MN, we got a little snow yesterday. It’s been an unusually warm winter, many 40 deg days but now the ground and trees are snow covered. It looks more like winter but snowmobilers still can’t play. The pretty Pine Grosbeaks are visiting this morning…haven’t seen them for awhile.
Pardoning Jackson socialiate Karen Kirby for driving drunk and killing two young doctors who were fresh out of residency
Goddamn. I guess it really IS ok if you’re a republican.
Tone In DC
Ah fuck! The future Mrs. Tebow is running around the threads again making herself look foolish.
@burnspbesq: Good point. And it occurs to me that O’Keefe may be the only one who knows the names of everyone who was involved. Which would make it hard for his lawyer to argue he wasn’t involved and leading the conspiracy.
Several of the pardoned long-term prisoners were costing the state too much money for their medical issues. Gee, no reason for them to try and get re-arrested is there?
And here, comrades, is the stupidest thing you will read all day. Get ready for major head-meet-desk-ing.
@Thor Heyerdahl: did you mean meh?
like i explained, ima muslimah.
tebow cant marry me unless he reverts.
@Thor Heyerdahl: So it’s a normal day on Balloon-Juice.
Really? How would you know that? Because you read it somewhere? Not everything you read is true and spin works both ways. How much time have you spent in the Stan? My guess is none… You are a prime example of someone who has strong opinions about a subject you know nothing about
Have a good day
@Comrade Javamanphil: “Should the Times be a truth-vigilante?”
Well, that depends upon whether or not they believe that their mission is to deliver news about the world.
Their answer to that question is the answer to the question about whether or not they should be a ‘truth vigilante’.
Odie Hugh Manatee
I’ll bet that among those pardons he gave yesterday there is a patron or two who paid Haley for theirs. Releasing/pardoning a bunch of nasty offenders sure would be good cover for something like that. Otherwise the pardons don’t make much sense to me, a Republican like Barbour doesn’t do compassion.
Now money is a whole other matter.
@ Soonergrunt: “What is truth?”
@Omnes Omnibus: To borrow from Justice Potter Stewart “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it…”
a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q)
@Soonergrunt: This email was sent to the address, with specified subject line (albeit with insufficient caffeination to make it pithy and pointed):
Dear Mr. Brisbane:
Thank you for soliciting input. I would prefer the corrections incorporated into the regular reporting so that it becomes actual reporting. While I have enough of a news habit to have the background information which allows me to recognize spin and outright falsehoods, not all readers do.
“But it was in the Times!” is turned into a belief and assertion that the claim must be accurate by lower information readers of your paper. Such readers are unlikely, in my experience conversing with them, to consult a sidebar for a fact check. Thus your reporters function as simply stenographers for those on whom they are reporting, as opposed to reporters who actually reporting what is in fact demonstrably accurate or inaccurate, and explaining why it is so.
Please begin to commit acts of journalism, and have reporters note that when a politician makes a claim that is objectively inaccurate, and can be shown as such, that such claim is demonstrably false and set forth the evidence of the falsity. This information is readily available. If your reporters (continue to) fail to do so, your paper is simply propaganda for the individuals on whom it is allegedly reporting.
Thank you for your attention to this matter. In an election year, it is of great importance, and I look forward to the improvement in coverage.
@Cromagnon: because I CAN FUCKING READ…unlike you stupid Teucrian cows…
CNAS, Exum, Petraeus, and the Financial Times.
are you sure you arent a Neandertal?
a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q)
@Odie Hugh Manatee: I think the theory is that it’s cover for pardoning the socialite drunk driver who killed two recently graduated physicians.
with the usual contingent of america-fuck-yeah bots stubbornly refusing to acknowledge Bush put our troops into an unwinnable, immoral, unjustifiable meatgrinder with utterly predictable results.
Like the Afghan Kill Squad and the Marine Urination youtube and the Gharani Massacre.
And from Justice Stewart’s eloquence in Jacobellis v. Ohio, we’ve now come to this from the Court’s current chief justice:
“All we are asking for, what the government is asking for, is a few channels where … they are not going to hear the S-word, the F-word, they are not going to see nudity.”
(Okay, I know I’m being unfair: Stewart’s was a written concurrence, Roberts’ a remark from the bench during yesterday’s argument in FCC v. Fox Television. But still and all…)
ETA: Aaarrgh! And someday, someday, I will learn how to correctly block-quote successive paragraphs. As the third one should have been.
Put two underscores on the blank line between paragraphs of your blockquote; that will keep them together in the blockquote.
Hi, Sooner. I’d like some input on this attempt to reinstate DADT in OK National Guard. Can they do this? Comment? Or even a post about it?
@Soonergrunt: and guess what else?
the incident has ALREADY HAD AN AFFECT.
Karzai shut down the talks.
have a great day, soonerbuddy.
Well, They can probably pass this law in Oklahoma, but I’m reasonably certain that it won’t be worth the paper upon which it would be printed. For the National Guard, whether Army or Air Force, the standards-setting agency is US DoD. If a state fails to maintain their NG units and personnel to federal standards, they risk decertification of those units and the attending loss of funding. Their personnel would, to my understanding, then be at risk of having their military careers cut short if they couldn’t successfully transfer to certified units within the OKGUARD. On this basis, the Adjutant General of the OKGUARD would presumably advise Governor Fallon (R) to either veto the law (the correct thing to do) or she will enact OK Military Regulations (in her role as CinC of the OKGUARD) that will render such a law meaningless and unenforceable, such as barring the use of OKGUARD funds for activities which violate federal law or regular military regulations of the Army or Air Force (which would be politically smart).
An action such as is contemplated here would risk decertification for the ENTIRE OKGUARD. Title 32, USC is the law that governs state use, operation, and governance of the National Guard. To my understanding, no state is allowed under Title 32 (and probably the equal protection clause of the US Constitution) to make their own regulations that bar for NG service any person who would otherwise qualify for service in the Regular forces or the Reserves (which are Federal formations just like the Regular forces.)
So if I understand you, the state of Oklahoma doesn’t have the power to regulate its National Guard, nor does any other state, because that power rests with the Federal Government. Which is just about what I suspected when I saw that story.
The TPM story also has the state legislator claiming that the Oklahoma National Guard itself asked for this legislation. In light of what you’ve just said about the potential consequences, that claim seems to me highly implausible. Do you think there’ll be any pushback from the Oklahoma National Guard if Reynolds is indeed lying?
I’m letting the world know that I “Like” Firing People. And while you’re there, put someone on notice.
Funny how often I find myself disagreeing with Andrew.
No. I think the withdrawal timetable means that Karzai is right.
The US will not be a major part of the solution to the Afghan war in the future. I suspect Andrew is still thinking in COIN-doctrine terms — It’s all about confidence and taking responsibility.
But there is no time for that: COIN, and its whole “hearts and minds” approach, requires a commitment of troops that NATO is no longer willing to support.
No. The only path is the one the Administration is following, here and elsewhere: Counterterror based on robot war from secure bases. In most cases, the ground will be owned by other powers. The US can harass the most militant and threatening groups, when they concentrate, when they give themselves away. But others must decide the future of Afghanistan.
And necessarily that task will fall to the regional rising Great Powers. IMHO.
I see the US increasingly focusing on its greatest strength: AI and the growing power of machine minds to sort and evaluate even the most obscure facts. The drone is first and foremost an information tool. Only rarely does it strike. The President gets it — The COIN-istas do not. IMHO of course.
Rep Lamar Smith who “wrote” the SOPA bill is violating copyright on his campaign website.
COIN is Exums bread and butter. its how he made his bones.
but assassination droning is useless for COIN. it just destabilizes whatever local ‘searching for ataturk’ dictator the US is currently propping, and recruits more insurgents.
Exum is a tool.
its how he twisted Saleh’s arm to get al-Awlaki and how he twisted Zardaris to get OBL.
Dunno if you’ll read this so late in the game, but thanks for putting better words to my initial reaction. The actions in the video are gross and grossly disrespectful of the dead, but, let’s see…. worse than someone’s little child getting killed in a drone attack? Nah.
I’m so grateful we’re in negotiations, and my opinion of my former (and formerly rather lackluster) junior senator (HRC) has blossomed over the past few years into considerable respect.
Here’s hoping we can bring all our troops out of there SOON…
@Tone In DC:
I don’t agree with either of those two statements.
I don’t think you understand the information systems and what they can do now. Leads can be astonishingly obscure and fragmentary. The Bayesian networks learn by experience. They are multimodal.
@THE: i understand Open Source and timelines very well ty. i was fucking trained.
Pasha sold OBL’s geoloc to Panetta in their meet last spring.
In return, the US dialed back the droning long enough for Zardari to get re-elected.
al-Awlaki and the al-Q training camps were Saleh’s trump card, but he had to play it after the assassination attempt when he needed asylum.
Obama is fucking brilliant at bricolage.
here is a simply epic comment Sooner.
Don’t you feel any shame, Sooner?
Believe what you want. Construct whatever conspiracy theories you like. But the US continues to grind down the terror networks at an ever increasing pace and efficacy.
Every 18 months the computers double in power. The tags get more sophisticated, the data mining more profound. There are things that human minds can still do best, and there are things the machines do best. Data reduction, universal search, machine learning. Biometrics. The real network is surely a hybrid of human and machine reasoning.
For every high-profile target that gets taken down, countless lower nodes are identified and eliminated. Are you going to invent conspiracy theories for them all?
Truth is the US scarcely needs its wars any more. A few key agents on the ground, covert operations with special forces. Sometimes local authorities cooperate. Yes there are even betrayals and sellouts. All the rest is surveillance of one form or another. The movement of people, the movement of vehicles, the movement of money, the movement of information, the contact networks. Gradually military action gives way to policing. Successful enemy attacks aren’t just attacks. They are data. The machines play back the data and learn from their failures. Forensics is a key part of machine learning.
And assassination is not the right word. It is attrition war. It is industrial in scale. The drones are just a tiny tiny part of it.
You think the woo cults can defeat the United States. But the US is a hybrid organism. 9 parts machine to one part human. And the machine part doubles in power every 18 months.
@THE: we still dont have Strong AI.
and the mil brass will NEVAH trust Strong AI in the field.
dude, i wrote classified papers on neural nets.
i know whereof i speak.
I’m not talking about strong AI. I’m talking about a human-machine hybrid system.
No you misunderstand. I’m not talking about Strong AI making firing decisions. I am talking about data reduction.
I’m talking about vast quantities of near-random data being pre-filtered to the point where humans can use their special pattern recognition abilities. But you only use humans at the highest level. The low level information reduction is mechanized. The machines can process vast amounts of data at generally lower discriminating quality. But it doesn’t matter how reliable or unreliable a method is. If it works better than chance, and if it’s statistically independent, it can be used to increase the discrimination in a bayesian reinforcement learning environment. The machine will learn how much weight to attach to each piece of evidence on the basis of past success.
I say generally, because there are powerful algorithms that work in specific cases. Assembling relationship charts from phone calls and the like. It’s no secret. It’s widely used in criminology. There are some things machines are awesome at. Superhuman by far.
But even in low level data reduction, machines have advantages. They never tire. They are unbiased. Or their biases can be known and accounted for in the model. They can number crunch at awesome speed. Astronomical amounts of data.
There are important synergies too, that the machine itself can discover – As it tests the success of various models. The machine can learn that task x can best be done by machine m and task y needs to be done by a human. From the point of view of the machine, a human is just another information processing cog in the machine. It has its strengths and weaknesses to be discovered by reinforcement learning.
As you add more resources to the network; the network incorporates the asset into its model. The asset can be a new source of data or a human asset. The machine learns how and where to deploy the asset to best effect, to raise the discriminating power of the network.
surveillance != control.
once you put american human assets on the ground in a counter-insurgency, you lose.
Actually, when I was referring to “human asset” I meant something like: “a human that is trained in photo-interpretation” or “a human who is trained in listening to speech samples and identifying people who are deliberately talking in code”.
BTW humans don’t have to be 100% reliable, as long as the machine knows through backtesting how reliable they are and knows how to weight their contribution objectively.
But, now that you make me think of it: ;)
In principle you could quite possibly include people on the ground as “assets”. The machine learning system could discover through back-testing where in the information flow network that asset worked best, and how much weight to put on the data coming from that source. In other words you have past enemy successes to test the data source against. Would the source have assisted the network to anticipate the attack if the machine had used that source, or placed a different weight on the information coming from that source.
In the end the machine could decide that the asset is useless, (i.e. information is only noise) or fails some cost-to-benefit criterion. So the asset could be withdrawn or reassigned (or ignored for this particular problem. The source may be useful for other classes of problems).