Friday, June 21, 2013

The news


Bill Clinton's war and his crooked and bungling antisemitic general

A war in which Clinton bombed Christians to help Muslims, it was also a military action that was not authorised by the Security Council of the United Nations and was therefore contrary to the provisions of the United Nations Charter.  That set a rather clear precedent for the attack on Iraq by GWB but is rarely condemned, unlike the Iraq action.

Despite having a Jewish father, Clark's views about "New York money people" are well known.  Some of Clark's follies are detailed below  but we should also recollect his order for British forces under his command to attack a  Russian contingent.  Not without amusement, the British refused.  Provoking mutiny is one of the lowest depths of military incompetence

The New York Times op-ed page has a piece by retired General Wesley Clark headlined: “To Get a Truce, Be Ready to Escalate.” The Times summarizes Clark’s wisdom: “The threat of force might get talks over Syria moving, as it did in Kosovo.”

Clark opines as if the military campaign which he headed was a stellar moral and strategic success: “In 1999 in Kosovo, the West used force as leverage for diplomacy. There, a limited NATO air campaign began after diplomatic talks failed to halt Serbian ethnic cleansing. The bombing lasted 72 days, and plans for a ground invasion of Serbia were under way when Mr. Milosevic finally bowed to the inevitable.”

It is stunning that anyone who showcase Clark as a wise man – considering the fiasco that he unleashed in the Balkans. For instance, NATO repeatedly dropped cluster bombs into marketplaces, hospitals, and other civilian areas. Cluster bombs are anti-personnel devices designed to be scattered across enemy troop formations. NATO dropped more than 1,300 cluster bombs on Serbia and Kosovo and each bomb contained 208 separate bomblets that floated to earth by parachute. Bomb experts estimated that more than 10,000 unexploded bomblets were scattered around the landscape when the bombing ended.

NATO worked overtime to explain away its “mistakes.” On April 12, a NATO pilot sent a missile into a passenger train on a railway bridge, killing 14 people. Clark took to the press podium to show the video from the nose of the missile, emphasizing that the pilot was focused on the bridge, “when all of a sudden, at the very last instant, with less than a second to go, he caught a flash of movement that came into a screen and it was the train coming in. Unfortunately, he couldn’t dump the bomb at that point. It was locked, it was going into the target and it was an unfortunate incident which he and the crew and all of us very much regret.” The video was endlessly replayed on Western television stations, driving home the point that, with the speed of modern missiles, there was sometimes nothing pilots could do to avoid catastrophe.

However, in January 2000, the Frankfurter Rundschau revealed that the video was shown at the NATO press conference at triple the actual speed, thus making the attack on civilians look far more inevitable than it actually was. NATO officials had become aware of the deceptive nature of the video several months earlier but saw “no reason” to publicly admit the error, according to a U.S. Air Force spokesman.

On April 14, 1999, NATO bombs repeatedly hit a column of ethnic Albanian refugees a few miles from the Albanian border, killing 75 people. NATO spokesmen initially claimed that Serbian planes carried out the attack and used the incident to further inflame anti-Serbian opinion. Five days later, NATO spokesmen admitted that the deaths had been caused by NATO forces. NATO then released the audio tape from the debriefing of a pilot identified as involved in the attack.

As Newsday reported, “According to officials, the American pilot was selected because he gave a graphic account of Milosevic’s forces torching a series of ethnic Albanian villages near the Kosovo town of Dakojvica Wednesday. The pilot told how he selected a three-truck military convoy for a laser-guided bomb strike when he saw it pulling away from a village where fires were just starting.”

However, this gambit backfired when high-ranking military officers protested that NATO, at Clark’s urging, had released the tape of a pilot who had nothing to do with bombing the refugee column. The pilot’s words were a red herring to distract attention from the carnage inflicted on the refugees.

The main achievement of the war was that, instead of Serbs terrorizing ethnic Albanians, ethnic Albanians terrorized Serbs; instead of refugees fleeing south and west, refugees headed north.

Unfortunately, few Americans paid close enough attention to the Kosovo war to recognize the danger of permitting the U.S. government and military commanders to go crusading with bombs dropped from 15,000 feet.

Thus, Clark is treated with respect when he recommends unleashing the same recipe for carnage in Syria.



Hospital Pricing Strategies

CNN and Time Magazine discovered how hospital charges mounted for one family. Nurses pricked the patient’s finger for a glucose test 190 times. At $39 a pop that totaled $7,410. A breathing ventilator generated 32 separate bills, totaling $65,600. There were separate charges for the IV tube and for asking for a urine bottle.

A box of tissues is a “mucus recovery system.” A teddy bear is a “cough suppression device” and can cost between $128 and $200.

Remember those little white cups fast food restaurants give you for free to put ketchup in? In fact there are restaurants giving them away for free in the lobby areas of many hospitals. In the hospital room, however, these are billed as “oral administration fees” and for one patient they totaled $5,000.

How could things be different? They already are different. Show me a market where there is no BlueCross, no Medicare and no employer paying the bills and you very likely have found a health care market that works very well, as I point out in my recent book “Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis.”

All over the country, retail establishments are offering primary care services to cash-paying patients. Because these services arose outside of the third-party payment system, their prices are free market prices. Walk-in clinics, doc-in-the-box clinics, and freestanding emergency care clinics post prices and usually deliver high quality care.

Cosmetic surgery is rarely covered by insurance. Because providers know their patients must pay out of pocket and are price-sensitive, patients can typically (1) find a package price in advance covering all services and facilities, (2) compare prices prior to surgery, and (3) pay a price that has been falling over time in real terms — despite a huge increase in volume and considerable technical innovation (which is blamed for increasing costs for every other type of surgery).

In the market for LASIK surgery, patients face package prices covering all aspects of the procedure. As with cosmetic surgery, whenever there is price transparency and price competition, the cost tends to be controlled. From 1999 (when eye doctors began performing LASIK in volume) through 2011, the real price of conventional LASIK fell about one-fourth.

Medical services for cash-paying patients have popped up in numerous market niches where third-party payment has left needs unmet. It is surprising how often providers of these services offer the very quality enhancements that critics complain are missing in traditional medical care.

Bottom line: Markets in medical care can work and work well — especially when third-party payers are not involved.



Overkill: Why This Gigantic "Intelligence" Apparatus?

On July 19, 2010, the Washington Post published the first of three large reports by Dana Priest and William M. Arkin on the dimensions of the gigantic US apparatus of "intelligence" activities being undertaken to combat terrorist acts against the United States, such as the 9/11 attacks. To say that this activity amounts to mobilizing every police officer in the country to stop street fights in Camden only begins to suggest its almost-unbelievable disproportion to the alleged threat.

Among Priest and Arkin's findings from a two-year study are the following:

The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.

[We] discovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.

Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.

An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances.
In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings — about 17 million square feet of space.

Many security and intelligence agencies do the same work, creating redundancy and waste. For example, 51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities, track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks.

Analysts who make sense of documents and conversations obtained by foreign and domestic spying share their judgment by publishing 50,000 intelligence reports each year — a volume so large that many are routinely ignored.

According to retired admiral Dennis C. Blair, formerly the director of national intelligence, after 9/11 "the attitude was, if it's worth doing, it's probably worth overdoing." I submit that this explanation does not cut to the heart of the matter. As it stands, it suggests a sort of mindless desire to pile mountains of money, technology, and personnel on top of an already-enormous mountain of money, technology, and personnel for no reason other than the vague notion that more must be better. In my view, national politics does not work in that way.

As Priest and Arkin report, "The U.S. intelligence budget is vast, publicly announced last year as $75 billion, 2 ½ times the size it was on September 10, 2001. But the figure doesn't include many military activities or domestic counterterrorism programs." Virtually everyone the reporters consulted told them in effect that "the Bush administration and Congress gave agencies more money than they were capable of responsibly spending." To be sure, they received more than they could spend responsibly, but not more than they were eager to spend irresponsibly. After all, it's not as if they were spending their own money.

"The most plausible reason why so few attacks have occurred is that very few persons have been trying to carry them out."
Why would these hundreds of organizations and contracting companies be willing to take gigantic amounts of the taxpayers' money when everyone agrees that the money cannot be spent sensibly and that the system already in place cannot function effectively or efficiently to attain its ostensible purpose? The question answers itself. It's loot for the taking, and there has been no shortage of takers. Indeed, these stationary bandits continue to demand more money each year.

And for what? The announced goal is to identify terrorists and eliminate them or prevent them from carrying out their nefarious acts. This is simultaneously a small task and an impossible one.

It is small because the number of persons seeking to carry out a terrorist act of substantial consequence against the United States and in a position to do so cannot be more than a handful. If the number were greater, we would have seen many more attacks or attempted attacks during the past decade — after all, the number of possible targets is virtually unlimited, and the attackers might cause some form of damage in countless ways. The most plausible reason why so few attacks or attempted attacks have occurred is that very few persons have been trying to carry them out. (I refer to genuine attempts, not to the phony-baloney schemes planted in the minds of simpletons by government undercover agents and then trumpeted to the heavens when the FBI "captures" the unfortunate victims of the government's entrapment.)

So the true dimension of the terrorism problem that forms the excuse for these hundreds of programs of official predation against the taxpayers is small — not even in the same class with, say, reducing automobile-accident or household-accident deaths by 20 percent.

Yet, at the same time, the antiterrorism task is impossible because terrorism is a simple act available in some form to practically any determined adult with access to Americans and their property at home or abroad. It is simply not possible to stop all acts of terrorism if potential terrorists have been given a sufficient grievance to motivate their wreaking some form of havoc against Americans. However, it is silly to make the prevention of all terrorist acts the goal. What can't be done won't be done, regardless of how many people and how much money one devotes to doing it. We can, though, endure some losses from terrorism in the same way that we routinely endure some losses from accidents, diseases, and ordinary crime.

The sheer idiocy of paying legions of twenty-something grads of Harvard and Yale — youngsters who cannot speak Arabic, Farsi, Pashtun, or any of the other languages of the areas they purport to be analyzing and who know practically nothing of the history, customs, folkways, and traditions of these places — indicates that no one seriously expects the promised payoff in intelligence to emerge from the effort. The whole business is akin to sending a blind person to find a needle inside a maze buried somewhere in a hillside.

That the massive effort is utterly uncoordinated and scarcely able to communicate one part's "findings" to another only strengthens the conclusion that the goal is not stopping terrorism, but getting the taxpayers' money and putting it into privileged pockets. Even if the expected damage from acts of terrorism against the United States were $10 billion per year, which seems much too high a guess, it makes no sense to spend more than $75 billion every year to prevent it — and it certainly makes no sense to spend any money only pretending to prevent it.

What we see here is not really an "intelligence" or counterterrorism operation at all. It's a rip-off, plain and simple, fed by irrational fear and continually stoked by the government plunderers who are exercising the power and raking in the booty to "fight terrorism."



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1 comment:

Robert said...

From Yada Yah, the "God Damn Religion" section, "Ekklesia" chapter, pages 33-34 - does this describe the political Left today or what?:

"...The second insight involves descriptive titles. Satanas and Diabolos are not names. As descriptive titles, they would have been more meaningfully translated "Adversary" and "False Accuser" than transliterated Satan and Devil. ... Moreover, we misunderstand Satan’s primary means to accomplish his end: "false accusations and slander by
way of calumniating and maligning." If we saw this in the Devil, rather than horns and a pointy tail, we might recognize his work in the fields of religion and politics, the media and academia."

Anyone else see exactly this in the malicious accusations against Romney by the Obama campaign, even going so far as to accuse Romney of causing a worker's wife to die? One can correctly call today's Democrat party thoroughly Satanic.
I found even more that was fascinating:

"The "arrogant one’s" titles characterize him and his mission. The False Accuser speaks maliciously, using lies, slander, and defaming false accusations — words which define the Islamic scriptures —- the Deceiver’s ultimate playground. The root of Satanas is "satan," the "one who opposes." It explains why the spirit of deception acts the way he does. It explains why religions behave the way they do.
... In the previous verse we were told that those who the Adversary influences (many if not most political and religious leaders) are "malicious slanders" who use "abusive speech to injure and unjustly vilify." Engaging their favorite ploy, "personal mockery and reviling defamation," they crucify truthful messengers rather than confront their message. They are "collectivists (socialists, communists, and congregationalists)" who "gather together" as the “assembly of Satan, the Adversary, the one who accuses and opposes."

And if that's not enough, this next paragraph seems to describe Leftists perfectly:

"Then speaking of the schemes deployed by these oppressive men and their regimes (Communism, Catholicism, and Islam), Yahowsha’ says: "Look now for indeed, the slanderous Devil falsely accuses." Those who aid and abet the False Accuser "traduce, calumniate, slander, malign, and defame." To "traduce" is to degrade by either exposing to shame or transferring blame by means of misrepresentation. It defines politics. Synonyms include "betray and malign." To "calumniate" is to "utter maliciously false statements, charges, or imputations designed to injure someone’s reputation." It defines religion. To "malign" is to "virulently influence for an evil and injurious purpose." Liars lie, that’s what liars do. Our world is drowning in them. So dark is the deceit, so deep is the cesspool, light’s faint flicker of hope is practically invisible. It is why this truth sounds so odd to our ears."

I see Obama using each and every one of The Adversary's tactics.