26 September 2009

The Devil Made Me Do It

President Obama along with the heads of Great Britain and France made a statement that they have INTEL that Iran has the facility up and running to enrich uranium and that the facility has no international inspection regime over it and that the worst must be suspected. France announced that Iran has until DEC 2009, after the German elections, to come clean on its activities and open up for inspection. Of course al Qaeda is already threatening Germany that it is not supine enough to al Qaeda's liking and that they better elect an appeasement and withdrawal government and get out of Afghanistan. The 'or else' is implied.

Iran doubled down on the reactors and they have two such plants.

Someone came in a day late and a plant short, that being the IAEA. They missed an entire enrichment facility in Iran and now we find out about it. I should think that building such a thing might just be a little obvious and that the IAEA would have had a clue some years previous to this.

Cause for worry, no?

But let me take up a position that I do not sponsor, do not believe in, because it is one worth doing, at this point. I will take up the Leftist position on Iran and now put forward the same, exact outlook that they took on Iraq. Fun will not be had.

Say that the Devil made me do it.

First off is that INTEL is so unreliable as to be useless. When tyrants bluster about sophisticated technology, it is just that, bluster. Really they are oppressed leaders of oppressed Nations and can't help but cry out to just gain attention. They need our 'help' not our confrontation because, you know, all those spooks and spies lie all the time to get their way on foreign policy. President Bush was one of the following or all three, depending on who you listened to on what topic and when:

A) A dunce who couldn't think his way out of a paper bag.

B) A fool who would believe anything that the CIA and other leaders put in front of him.

C) An evil genius looking to rule the world.

Ahmadinejad is just like Saddam in this in that he has said multiple, different things in order to gain attention and their missiles can only take regular, everyday, common warheads that they hand over to Hezbollah. Plus he says this is for making nuclear fuel AND nuclear medicines, and who would lie about those things, right?

Second is that the US is the oppressor. We put sanctions on Iran when they took our Embassy staff captive against all forms of International Law but, hey, that was decades ago before many on the Left were even born. Its HISTORY. Ok, the armed group Hezbollah has killed US and French soldiers looking to help Lebanon out, but that was HISTORY TOO! And Iran has been tied in with the Hezbollah attacks in Argentina because Iran's friend, Syria, wanted advanced missile and nuclear technology from it. But that... well that was in HIST... oh, wait that was 1994. Can't be history. Still we put on sanctions and CAUSED all of that, its OUR FAULT if they want high tech weapons. So we should end the sanctions, no harm will ever come to us because, you know, the past is history.

Third is that there are no, real, WMDs in Iran. No one has seen them, therefore they don't exist. And trying to say they are building them and just need the radioactive material is WARMONGERING. That's oppression! If we would just be NICE to them they wouldn't be so BAD. Probably tyrannical to their own people, yes, but we can help END THAT by GIVING THEM MONEY. If we did that we could get some access to their facilities, just like we did with the oh-so-nice USSR, no? Oh, wait... well... still giving money is a lot better than war! Having to pay Danegeld is always the best way.... We don't ever need to be worried about Iran actually trying to attack us and that they did that to our Embassy which IS considered sovereign territory under international law doesn't mean they broke international law! And electing one of the people who took part in the Embassy invasion and hostage taking as the head of the Nation doesn't mean that Iran is scoffing at international law!

Fourth is that it is all a plot to get Iranian oil. Everything is a plot. On the part of the US and Europe and Iran is just responding naturally to plots against it. Its our fault. No blood for oil!!!

Fifth is that these white leaders... errrrr.... Imperialist Leaders....ahhhhh.... semi-white capitalist sycophants? Hmmmm... that works! Semi-white capitalist sycophant running dogs (yeah RUNNING DOGS, lets see them respond to that!) of BIG OIL don't care about those funny people in Iran and are just out to exploit them and their natural resources and enslave them to have to work for a living! Yeah, that's the ticket!

The above are the Devil's Advocate positions put up by the individuals and groups who derided Bush and operations in Iraq, amended lightly for Iran. I count them as the message of the SLA: Semi-conscious Liberation Army.

If the Left had any consistency, honesty or courage, those are the things they would be saying about President Obama and the situation in Iran. I know that because I've heard them all brought up as multiple 'reasons' or 'root causes' in similar venues about Iraq, just put down the Embassy bombing and such to the fact that Saddam would not keep his agreements under international law after the First Gulf War, and that his funding of Palestinian terrorists, handing out processing techniques to al Qaeda that showed up in Hekmatyar's organization in London and in Afghanistan under the Taliban are the rough equivalents to the far cozier and deeper relationship of Iran and its founding of Hezbollah.

I mean if the Left actually BELIEVED those things then Barack Obama is one of many things:

A) A dunce being dazzled by more sophisticated leaders on the global stage.

B) A fool who will believe anything handed to him by these operators.

C) Naive in thinking that Iran means any harm to the world or anyone on it outside of Iran, save for some nasty incidents that really were just an indication of how oppressed Iran is.

D) Corrupted already by 'the system'.

E) Evil Genius, save that he couldn't sell a used health plan to anyone save the far Left who wants a total government take-over of everything, immediately, for our own good.

F) Being used by 'the powers that be' , lied to by international leaders who are trying to make him the sock puppet for their oil needs, and by Ahmadinejad who is playing back and forth on the 'do we or don't we, double or nothing' game just like Saddam did. Because, really, Iran, Russia and China are much better places than France, Great Britain or the US.

Or all of them. The SLA has never been all that coherent on things.

My view?

One - Iran is a threat and a demonstrated one since the Embassy take-over. They have never apologized for that nor offered those who take part up to the US to be tried under our laws for those crimes committed on US soil at our Embassy compound.

Two - Iran is a continued threat in using an extra-national private war organization called Hezbollah to attack targets on land and at sea without warning. The list of Nations that have a Hezbollah presence is long, and even limiting it to those they have attacked still leaves you with most European Nations, a scattering of North African Nations, Argentina (if not others although tracking them out of the TBA is damned hard), the US, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Chechnya, and a few other places less savory in the old 'stans area of ex-Soviet Republics in Central Asia. For its sea-based attacks Hezbollah is a piracy operation, and by funding those Iran is also culpable for those actions under its auspices.

Three - Iran has funded 'insurgencies' in Iraq and Afghanistan with literal tons of equipment captured that have been manufactured in Iran: missiles, bombs, machine guns, explosively formed projectiles, IED components, uniforms, radios... a long, long list of training and equipment. It meddles in the politics of Iraq via Moqtada al Sadr and endorses violence in Iraq, save when al Sadr gets cold feet and needs to run for 'religious training', no doubt with AK-47s and RPGs.

Four - Iran has had nuclear weapons ambitions very close to its founding during the Cold War, when nuclear weapons were seen as 'legitimizers' for playing in the arena of Super-Power politics on an international scale. After that they just want to destroy Israel and threaten their neighbors. The first was pure hubris, of course, but not to be discounted as a starting point. The latter two have driven Iran and Iraq under Saddam, especially during their 1980's war that killed millions on both sides and saw Saddam deploy nerve gas and Iran deploy children on the battlefront. Iran, on its end, formed a close alliance with Syria that had long range missile technology, has not signed on to the Chemical Weapons convention, has tried to get enrichment facilities for its phosphate deposits so as to extract uranium from them, gulled the Swedes into selling them such a plant, had started on a bio-weapons program, and has the manufacturing and technical expertise to know the WMD issues... if not the cash to carry them out. Iran has that cash. The Israeli's bombed the attempted start-up of a Syrian/North Korean processing site for getting enriched uranium beyond 'yellowcake' concentrations. There is some expectation that Iran has shared technology with Syria in that venue. So both are proliferating WMD technology. Further Iran took part in the AQ Khan network which has workable uranium bomb designs and schematics. Also that networked served to funnel Chinese, North Korean and even some Japanese nuclear technology into the network, with Japan having Mitutoyo sell 10,000 separators on the black market in violation of all international agreements Japan signed up to.

Five - Iran doesn't give a damn about international law. It breaks treaties, proliferates WMD technology, serves as a trans-shipment point for various black market networks (including such things as heroin, cocaine, and small arms to various Hezbollah organizations), encourages black market work by Hezbollah operations, and has sought to extend power and influence via Hezbollah into The Balkans, South America, Africa, Europe proper, SE Asia, and even into North America. The North American operations run by the late Imad Mugniyah incorporated such things as tobacco tax fraud, banking fraud, black/grey market dealings, car theft (if the reports are to be believed), and shipping drugs across North America via Mexican drug gangs. Each of those have cases in the US and Canada to back them, although the car theft part is harder to ID as part of the larger Albanian ex-pat criminal organizations that Iran semi-cooperates with. They do similar with Russia, with shipments of cocaine from Hezbollah in S. America showing up in St. Petersburg (Russia) in 20 ton lots. That ain't chicken feed.

Six - Iran is run by a group of individuals who are old, about one-deep in leadership, and who have a fantasy ideology about the end times and the 12th Imam. They also want to blow Israel off the map, bring harm to the US (the Great Satan) and generally get their belief on how Islam should run the world as an operational idea. Israel has a small unannounced but widely known defensive nuclear arsenal: you attack the with nukes and you can say good-bye to the world.

Seven - The money is on Iran having one or more nuclear processing facilities with the sweet possibility they are also using some small amount of Syrian help, and possibly giving better processing technology to North Korea.

Eight - Gazprom told the Russian government a couple of years ago NOT to invest any money into the petroleum/gas infrastructure of Iran. China pulled out of a $10 billion support deal for the Iranian petroleum infrastructure. All international analysis in those sectors points to a Nation ruining their natural resource exploitation system and that now must import not only refined gasoline, but even simple natural gas from outside their country. The infrastructure of Iran is being driven into the ground as bad or possibly even worse than Saddam did by not repairing his infrastructure: at least that needed wholesale replacement due to there being no infrastructure to repair. Iran is not so lucky and will need a retail replacement with each and every single part analyzed and replaced before it all implodes in the next five years or so. Want a real oil shock? Iran can't meet its export agreements and hasn't for years now. It is a net IMPORTER of natural gas and refined petroleum products. I disagree with Dick Morris on these points, and deeply: he has gotten the direction and amount of flow of natural gas and refined petroleum products wrong, and is still thinking in 1990's terms on Iran. Russia supports Iran for its own reasons, mostly getting paid for the stuff they have already done there, some for geopolitics against the West, some for the natural gas fields and oil fields in Iran that Russia could run better than Iran can at the moment.

When you add these things up you get an Iranian government (and I do hope the Iranian people can bring this baby down) that is: tyrannical, imperial, aggressive, expansionistic and dictatorial with a lovely dash of fantasy ideology thrown in to give the thing a piquant stench. Plus its eggshell economy is about to implode. I'm not too fond of the damned government and hope that the Iranian people can find the path to liberty and freedom and get rid of it. Unfortunately they are on their own in doing so: the US has given active and vocal support of their despotic government and not even a bone to those actually laying their lives down to free their fellow countrymen.

That is a black mark against America.

A deep stain that shows how callow we can be, as a Nation, to disdain supporting those who fight for freedom and liberty in all venues, even just in rhetoric.

Pushing 'health care' when there are nuts trying to get WMDs is a pointless exercise: when you are part of a WMD attack, no health insurance in the world will pay for that. Especially if you are dead.

You want WMD Life Insurance on that, instead. Good luck in finding it after the last couple of days.

To me the Left went certifiably nuts when they could not understand that there are Levels of Confidence with all INTEL and that no INTEL is 100%. To restate: there is no INTEL that is deemed 100% accurate with confidence. You may have a high level of confidence, say 90%, but that is not 100%. If you want 100%, you must invade and find out for YOURSELF on the ground what is going on. We have to trust these analysts as they are, surprisingly, conservative and don't like to step beyond their level of confidence in anything as it can come back to haunt them for the rest of their lives when they are WRONG. That is why you do NOT put political pressure of ANY sort on INTEL: the analysts must be given leeway to operate in an environment so they can weigh what is known, what they can't know and what they are trying to infer and political views get in the way of that no end and you wind up with faulty INTEL work. I don't like political pressure on INTEL from the POTUS and I don't like it from inside Agencies trying to run their own agendas, but that is something I have looked at multiple times elsewhere and will not further that here.

We cannot run a Nation or our relationships with others on good wishes and hoping for the best, because THAT is also a fantasy ideology and doesn't deal with the way people actually do things and why. Trying to imply motives is mind reading. What people do and comparing that to what they say then allows you to derive the truthfulness of what they say by what they do: it is evidence based analysis. It is prone to have levels of confidence. That sucks. That is how the real world works. If you don't like it, then please move to an alternate reality where that does work. Trying to bring that reality here will get us all killed.

19 September 2009

Instead of 'shovel ready'

Interesting days on the financial side of things, no?

Take, for example, Fannie Mae's draw on the US Treasury after a $14.8 billion loss (Source: Al Yoon, 05 AUG 2009 at al-Reuters):

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Fannie Mae, the largest provider of U.S. home mortgage funding, on Thursday reported a $14.8 billion quarterly net loss that it said would force it to go to the U.S. Treasury trough a third time for money to stay in business.

The company noted a "significant uncertainty" of its long-term financial health in reporting its eighth consecutive quarterly loss, which illustrates its struggle to make money in the face of rising defaults and pressure to do more to stabilize the housing market.

Say, isn't Fannie Mae supposed to be one of those lovely government backed organizations that does so much 'good' for borrowers? If so, then what is up with the big, bad nasty loss after the 'stimulus'?

Ah, just a drop in the bucket that, after all...

How about Freddie Mac? Doing great, huh?

From Trading Markets, 07 AUG 2009 we can find that Freddie is turning a profit:

(RTTNews) - Friday, government-sponsored home mortgage finance company Freddie Mac (FRE Quote Chart News PowerRating), reported a swing to profit in the second quarter of 2009 from a loss a year ago, driven by higher net interest income reflecting a $4.2 billion gain on its derivative portfolio. On account of funding commitment to the Treasury Department, Freddie Mac has paid out a dividend of $1.14 billion on the its senior preferred stock. The dividend payment has left Freddie Mac with a loss attributable to common shareholders, however, one that narrowed from last year. Further, the mortgager noted that it would not request any additional financial support from the federal government. Freddie Mac indicated signs of slowing in home price declines, however, remains cautious due to rising foreclosures, growing unemployment, tight lending standards and buyers' reluctance to re-enter the market.

The McLean, Virginia-based company reported that its second quarter net income attributable to the company totaled $768 million, compared to a loss of $821 million in the prior-year quarter.

The company paid out a dividend of of $1.14 billion to the U.S. Department of the Treasury on the senior preferred stock during the second quarter.

After the dividend pay out, Freddie Mac posted a loss attributable to the common shareholders of $374 million or $0.11 per share, compared to a loss of $1.05 billion or $1.63 per share in the same quarter last year.

Oh, it only moved in a profitable direction. It still posted a loss after getting Treasury help. And from that nasty 'derivatives' sector that everyone decried from SEP to DEC 2008, you remember the folks who supposedly played lots of games with the market? Well Freddie Mac is helping them to do that, it appears.

That must mean all is going swimmingly with FHA, right?

From Friday Morning Federal Newscast at Federal News Radio 18 SEP 2009:

The Federal Housing Administration, hit hard by the mortgage crisis, is in need of a cash infusion. For the first time, cash reserves will drop below the minimum level set by Congress according to FHA officials. The FHA part of Housing and Urban Development insures mortgages against losses and guaranteed about a quarter of all U.S. home loans made this year. The Washington Post reports rather than raise fees or go to Congress for a bail out the agency is considering a proposal that would require banks and lenders to keep a million dollars in capital to repay the agency for losses due to fraud to make up the shortfall.

Say, instead of asking others to cover for the FHA, how about taking the regulations off the books that allow people with No Income, No Jobs or Assets (NINJAs) to get loans? That might help a whole lot more by getting creditworthy borrowers into the system and ease the un-creditworthy ones out as they default on loans.

Do remember that one of the groups to push for that was ACORN Housing Affordable Loans, LLC, with the help of many:

"Bank of America is proud to participate in the launch of ACORN's mortgage brokerage," said Glenda Gabriel, Bank of America Neighborhood Lending Executive. "Working with ACORN, this valuable partnership will make Bank of America's suite of safe and affordable mortgage products more accessible to first-time homebuyers interested in achieving the American dream of home ownership."

"Over the last 12 months, we have worked diligently together to get ACORN established as a broker, provided training and support as they set up their broker operations and strategy. The launch today is a culmination of these efforts. We are proud to announce this alliance with Acorn Housing Corporation," said Danny Gardner, National Director of Strategic Markets for CitiMortgage. "In the current climate, we feel the mortgage products we are offering through this relationship will not only help first-time homebuyers looking for a home but also may help those faced with rising mortgage payments."

"First American Title has been a committed partner in the industry in serving low-to-moderate income and multicultural families in achieving the American dream of homeownership. We are happy to take another step forward with this partnership with ACORN Housing Corporation, " said Lionel Savage, Vice President for Lender Services and Industry Relations, First American Title Insurance Company. "First American Strategic Markets is fully equipped with assisting in this partnership with our multicultural escrow and closing services and tools that directly address the need for education about the homebuying process amongst the multicultural community."

"Fannie Mae is proud to work with ACORN Housing, " said Thomas Collins, Director, Single Family Business, and Fannie Mae. By working with ACORN and lenders like Citibank, we can support their efforts to expand homeownership opportunities for underserved communities at affordable price points achieve sustainable homeownership."

Yup and the ACORN folks are a small business by the SBA rules on such, so can get preferential treatment! It has truly taken a great number of swell hearted fools handing out federal money hand over fist, no money down, low interest for the first year, no questions asked to get the mortgage sector into this mess.

But 'cash for clunkers' was a glorious success, no?

From Gary E. Sattler at BloggingStocks comes this analysis:

Analysts are also pointing out that consumers who purchased vehicles during this period paid higher prices on average for those vehicles than purchasers in the previous month. It is believed that the Clunker vouchers dampened the spirit of wheeling and dealing by helping to reduce initial sticker shock.

The data also shows that the average age of traded-in vehicles during this period almost doubled. In this regard, the Clunkers program was a great success. While consumers put new cars into service, saving themselves fuel expense and short-term maintenance costs, they also created a flurry of new consumer debt. However, negative equity of trade-ins dropped to its lowest point of the year, thereby considerably reducing the "rollover debt" factor.

Another noteworthy sales dynamic I garnered from the article is the fact that the value of vehicles sold during this period actually trended downward, indicating that the program's vehicle value cap did in fact limit or direct consumer choice. People bought less car for more money. The facts speak for themselves.

To get the 'good' of lower mileage cars, consumers paid more for lower end vehicles and got lesser vehicles for their purchase. In other words the net effect of the vouchers was a higher end cost for a lower end value, because there was less haggling in the market on trade-in values and new car values. Buyers would have been better off without the vouchers, without the 'help', gotten cars for less money and better value. To balance that people purchased cars below what they normally would have gotten which did help banks, somewhat, but removed market incentive to do more for less.

Good job!

And today we find out that there are some minor problems at another place, this at WSJ 18 SEP 2009:

WASHINGTON -- Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair said Friday her agency may tap its $500 billion credit line with the U.S. Treasury to replenish its deposit insurance fund, though she appeared cautious about doing so.

"We are carefully considering all options" including borrowing from the Treasury, Ms. Bair said Friday after a speech in Washington.

Ms. Bair has already warned banks that they may face an assessment increase to bolster the fund. Friday, she said there are also other little-known options available to the agency, including requiring banks to prepay assessments. The FDIC board of directors will meet at the end of this month to consider how to replenish the fund, she said.

Ms. Bair appeared cautious about resorting to the Treasury credit line, saying there are different views on when it should be used. She said some believe it should be reserved for emergencies only, rather than for covering losses that are already known.

Congress acted earlier this year to allow the FDIC to borrow as much as $500 billion from the Treasury if the Treasury, the Federal Reserve and the White House believe it is warranted. Otherwise, the agency can borrow up to $100 billion.

So let me get this straight:

  • We have major problems in the mortgage market that go unaddressed to stop giving out mortgages to those who can't afford them.
  • We have the two federally backed mortgage groups losing money, even with cash infusions and playing with the derivatives market.
  • We have the FHA dropping below its minimal required cash reserve levels, which should mean that it will stop handing out cash but, instead, will seek to put good money after bad.
  • We have just one group that helped stimulate all these loans finally getting some scrutiny nearly a decade after the regulations were loosened under the Clinton Administration.
  • We have a federal program which ends up costing the consumers money in order to get federal largesse to trade in cars.
  • We have the FDIC, that much vaunted institution that everyone always points to as the one great good of the FDR Administration now pointing out that it is running out of money to cover depositors.

The 'We' is you, me and every other citizen of the United States.

That is our cash they are playing with, and treating our hard earned money as play money.

Mind you this was all done with federal regulations and the close observation of federal regulators and 'oversight' by the swell minded idiots Upon the Hill. No one can complain that there weren't ENOUGH regulations as it was the regulations that caused these problems IN THE FIRST PLACE.

And now that 'We' are still in a recession, with high unemployment rate, these bozos Upon the Hill refuse to STOP playing with our money and start addressing the problems that has been caused by our elected representatives in the House, Senate and White House for decades. Thus they are lengthening and deepening the recession and just as 'We' begin to get a little economic footing under us, the bill for all that lovely government spending comes due and that will get us a devalued currency with inflation, to boot. To pay out all that money will require a huge cash infusion into the system over the next few years just to cover the debt that our government has put into place. Plus the hugely expanded deficit that will then kick into high gear about 5-6 years down the road when the huge amounts of interest on all that lovely new debt comes due for us to pay out. That being 'We'.

We the People.

We have an agreement.

This is not forming a more perfect Union.

The agreement is being violated.

This government, even if it changed over to Republican majorities overnight, would leave the Nation with a huge debt, climbing deficits, and, as Republicans are so fiscally management oriented, with a political class that will want to KEEP the new status quo of spending.

That is a Charlie Foxtrot no matter which way you go.

The last time Democrats had any concept of fiscal sobriety was in the 19th century.

For Republicans that last time was in the early 20th, probably around the Taft Administration.

The much vaunted two party system is SOS.

Stuck on Stupid.

Both parties, without exception.

They can't even recognize that before spending on 'shovel ready' things they need to spend on 'hole ready' things, because the holes already exist and they need to be filled and closed off so that the filling doesn't melt away.

Our swell Ignoramuses Upon the Hill can't figure that out.

We have a problem when our government will not do things necessary to get out of our way so that We may build a more perfect Union.

Activism FOR more government regulation and control has purchased us this problem. It is the problem, not a solution.

So if more government is not the solution, then how about less of it?

Or are we afraid to build our more perfect Union with less government and more from ourselves?

Just how much do you fear that face that looks back at you in the mirror?

Just how much do you want to be controlled by government?

This isn't about other people and helping them, it is about you and you giving up your voice, your money, your liberty and your freedom to those that don't give a damn about you. Do you really want someone else to take a major role in deciding if you live or die, and that can change with a misfiling of a form? An accidentally dropped number?

Are you a number?

Or are you a person?

11 September 2009

On 9/11/01 I was...

... suffering back spasms. It was 09 SEP 2001, TUE and I had started my day being barely able to get out of bed, hobble down the stairs, make myself breakfast, take care of our cats and then relax so muscle relaxants could do their thing.

I remember my lady calling me into the living room to watch, in horror, the smoke rising from the upper floors of the first WTC building hit.

Then the reports about the Pentagon.

Spurious reports going on in DC, particularly about the State Dept.

Then the second WTC plane hit, and I remember the fireball it blasted out the other side of the building.

Minutes, mere minutes.

Reports of something going on in the air and all the commercial and civilian activity being shut down, planes trying to find someplace to land...

Pennsylvania a jet down. All lives lost.

I received a call from my boss making sure I was all right.

I worked in a civilian agency in DoD. During the threatened shutdown in the '90s we were told who was important enough to come in to work without pay if it came to that. I was one of those who would do so.

An honor to volunteer to work supporting the warfighter and be accepted for that.

Our work sites in DC had been evacuated on 9/11.

My building was on the flight path of Flight 77.

There are many such targets for those diverting a plane to kill wantonly to instill terror. To instill fear. To enforce their will upon others and cow them into submission.

We would be closed for three days, with only a few designated for maintaining buildings coming in then quickly leaving, under the watchful eye of the National Guard.

I was in shock.

In horror.

And disgusted by those who would take such life on such scale without justification, cause or reason. No Nation did that to America, but armed fanatics enforcing their will upon the world.

When we did re-open, I asked to be put back into a direct support position that I had recently left.

Our citizen soldiers were going in harms way for us all.

Handing discs and satchels over to uniformed couriers heading directly out to the waiting forces who needed those before they left has ever been one of the most satisfying of my life.

In absolute pain due to my back.

It took me 20 minutes to walk the few hundred feet from a parking space to the building.

And 20 minutes back when my shift was over.

Whatever my pain, my physical problems, nothing would keep me from my job.

I remembered what had happened to our Embassies around the world and remember the fateful morning I drove past the CIA entrance in 1993. We were in the same business, but different lines of it and I considered those men and women to be on the front lines of a Private War declared upon us all. Working after 9/11 reminded us all about how our buildings had not had any real defensive obstacles put in place to stop truck bombers... nothing could stop those who stalked outside the fence, however.

We were all marked as we volunteered to work at a job to help defend the Nation.

I learned, some days later, that a man I had worked with, Mr. Dong Lee, was on Flight 77. He was a contractor who worked on contract for the US government. That, too, is a volunteer position: no one forces you to do that.

He was not a personal friend, nor even a professional one, but a man who I had contact with working on a large scale research project for my Agency. It was clear, to me, that his work was vital as part of our Nation's defenses after reviewing the work and what it meant. I had met him in late JUL 01. We would never get to work on that project.

I would volunteer for a medical study at NIH to test a new medication outside of its intended audience to see if it would help others with my condition, that being Type I Diabetes.

I did that because I remembered that in WWII those who could not or would not fight could still contribute and put their bodies to service for the Nation and their fellow man.

When I first heard the 'chickenhawk' slur I was profoundly disgusted with those putting it out.

You could contribute when not able to fight and must do so to support your Nation and your fellow man.

I would become gravely ill due to that study, although not due to the medication being tested, as fate would have it. From that I would no longer be able to do my job which was in Advanced R&D for my Agency. To find new and better ways to find our enemies and protect our Nation. I would survive, but would never have the skills and pointed mental capability that I did when I entered the study.

Even Pacifists did that during WWII and gained great honor for doing so, and gained high esteem for their morals, ethics and commitment to the Nation. Our modern critics of war are not so valiant, not so public spirited and don't seem to give a damn about the Nation to risk their health and their lives against medications and diseases.

I cannot hate those individuals.

I can only pity them for the dark void in their beings where their soul should be.

There is a cold, dark place in my heart for those attackers of my Nation and my fellow citizens who come from afar with malice aforethought and a red gleam in their eye.

And for those who impugn the volunteers who work to keep us safe and alive, I have disgust and pity.

And for those who wish to forgive our attackers and blame our Nation for what came to our shores I have no respect at all.

For just a few hours I thought that the Bush Administration 'got it'.


I hoped that would stick with our elected officials.

It didn't.

You don't need mighty armies if you have a mighty people, but it is a happy benefit.

Armies and Navies are not a sovereign cure for the ill of those who return to a state of Nature to become enemies of all mankind.

We used to know what that sort of fighting was all about.

No longer.

We are civilized to the point of decadence: at a high state of decay.

When you reach for the stars, you had better prepare for a damned nasty knife fight by those that can't stand to see others succeed.

For those that strive, failure is an option.

Minoans, Mycenae, Troy, Hittites, Assyrians, Sparta, Egypt, Persia, Rome... all strived, all succeeded and all failed.

America is born of failure because we are not perfect as a people, but we do have a perfect mission.

We have wars to fight so we can end them, and enemies hiding in many Nations and lawless regions across the globe.

Yet we are no longer fighting to win.

So that we can end the fighting and get back to relative peace.

To do that can require a decade and more once the fighting stops.

Now we have an entire section of people who are terrified of winning.

There are long term consequences to defeat.

I will never forgive those who brought war to our shores on 9/11/01.

And I will never forget the loss of my fellow citizens and those who trusted us to protect them in our Nation against those barbaric foes.

Never forgive.

Never forget.

09 September 2009

Medical care and Federalism

The concept of the United States is that we live with a federal system, a system of multiple governments each addressing the areas that they are given to address and conforming to the representative system that provides citizen input into that level of government.  To find out where medical care should be addressed, the outlay of powers is given in the US Constitution in broad context, to reserve a very few areas for the National level so that there is continuity as a Nation on these few items.

Those who have been pushing 'the public option' or 'single payer plan' run into the problem of monopsony where there is but a single payer in a given market. When one purchaser has an overwhelming or sole presence in the market for any good or service, it has untoward market power to demand pricing acceptable to it by varying how much of those things it is willing to buy so as to establish an acceptable price point to the monopsonist.  Such markets can be static or dynamic, and can include such things as: the labor market, welfare causing a change in the rate of exploitation as compared to a competitive market, minimum wage, and other areas where competition drives costs down so as to gain more market share.  Any National government does have, within its power, to create a monopoly position by granting such a monopoly to a private concern, although this was discouraged as far back as Adam Smith who pointed out that only in those areas of National need (such as defense of the Nation, protection of critical labor skills, etc.) should that be done.

On economic ground I, too, had examined a monopsony use for medications, not medical practice, but have been dissuaded from that by the cogent analysis of other writers.  Indeed I was unaware of the term  monopsony until it was explained, then the problems of it became self-evident in that it restricts market efficiencies to provide the greatest number of goods and services from multiple competing agents seeking multiple competing buyers so as to properly value a given good or service until such time as innovation changes the price point for that within the market.  The elimination of the multiple purchasers is just as, if not to some degree far worse, than having monopoly or oligopoly in which sellers fixing prices seek to maximize their profit in uneconomic ways.

Beyond that, however, is the much abused 'commerce clause' of the US Constitution along with the 'general welfare' clause in Article I, Section 8, in parts which are separate listings:

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;


To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;


The 'general Welfare' clause is in regards to taxes, duties, imposts and excises that go into the general treasury to pay for our common defense and the federal government's other activities.  It is not a separate power in and of itself to the general welfare but a reason why these fund sources are to be used and what they are to be used for: paying for the other items in the federal government, not for some vague generalization of 'general Welfare'.  All the other things in the federal government are part of the 'general Welfare' but are a discreet subset of the entire general Welfare of the People, as written in the Preamble.  That clause is about taxes, duties, etc., things that we call 'revenue', not about the provisioning of goods and services.

In the 'Commerce clause' we get three distinct areas that the federal government is to play a role: in commerce with foreign Nations, amongst the States and with the Indian Tribes.  The 'regulate' is to regularize, not dictate to others what to do and how to do it.  If these three items (foreign Nations, the States and the Indian Tribes) must have logical connection to each other and the power described.  That power is one that seeks to work with autonomous and independent, indeed Sovereign, units so as to create agreement amongst those in negotiations to regularize the way commerce is conducted.  As a Sovereign power cannot dictate terms of a civil treaty with an equal, the federal government cannot do so with the States and the Indian Tribes.  If these things did not act in a similar manner they would be called out separately in the Constitution and provided for with their own clauses as was done with taxation and other revenues.

This power has been abused by the federal government to reach into individual States, individual markets and exercise power and influence in those markets without consent of the State Legislatures and Governors who are at the level of office of Sovereignty for their States as that of the head of foreign Nations and Indian Tribes.  The Raich decision is one in a long series of expansions of federal power into areas it is not given to work in and attempting to tell the States how they must comply with federal regulations in a venue where the federal government has no given power to it.

That we know by two Amendments to the US Constitution that tell exactly what those things not specifically handed to the federal government are:

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

If it is not handed to the federal government, then the rights and power are retained by the people and may be exercised by the States or the people as they choose amongst their States. Thus the federal government retains no monopoly or monopsony power over medical care.  What the federal government CAN do is encourage the States to work with each other to set up their own methods of providing these things, but the States are on the hook for that and there is no compelling any State to do what it does not wish to do in that realm.

No matter how 'good' it might be for the federal government to do anything outside of its given powers, it is powerless to do so: it is not handed those powers and can only be given them by Amendment.

Thus I can see no place for even such things as Medicair or Medicaid save as voluntary acceptance, at best, of government largesse.  Already that market presence distorts the market, causes problems with the subsidies provided to citizens on the cost of treatment for them by creating uneconomical price points that are not market driven but cost driven.  When a good or service is subsidized, either by setting abnormally low prices and paying producers directly (such as in State owned ventures seen in other Nations) or via subsidy to purchasers, we find imbalance in the system that tries to adjust to these non-market based drivers that then inflate the cost or artificially hold the cost low with detriment to infrastructure and encouraging new market competition.  Other treatment venues that are held by the federal government, namely the VA system and Indian health services system, provide medical care that is not high quality, not in enough supply and treats patients in a sub-optimal manner as there is no incentive to treat them better.

Trying to get rid of a part of a system that works to model it on failed systems is not a pathway to success, but to failure.

When people talk about the 'failure of the health system' in the US, it is due to the very federal interventions that were supposed to 'help' and 'fix' the system, and yet these initiatives have had just the opposite outcome in neither 'helping' nor 'fixing' the problems they set out to fix.  Worse, still, is that by concentrating administrative power in a sole or oligarchical arrangement, lobbying then can be concentrated at one or a very few points by companies seeking greater income and wealth in the system.  The very same people who decry the current influence of Big Pharma and Big Insurance on government legislation should want just the opposite of a 'single payer' or 'public option' as this then concentrates the ability of those organizations to lobby and further change the system to their benefit.  This is strangely not understood by those that advocate that sort of system and yet want less lobbying power and influence.

Now if you follow this line of reasoning, keeping 'good wishes' and 'nice things' out of the picture because they are not part of the described power structure of the Union granted to the federal government but reserved by the people to use as they wish in the States, we get a major point of departure from the Left but also on the Right.

How so?

This system, that keeps the federal government out of doing things actively, also describes the market arrangement for those things outside of the federal purview.

First it is market driven, with little to no interference from federal government.

Second it is of the concern of the people and the States.

Thus from the first and the second, there is no 'national market' in health care services or their provisioning, but a large number of State and local markets.

To understand the problem of this on the Right, I will turn to Grace-Marie Turner in an article on the 27 AUG 2008 at the Wall Street Journal on this topic of a 'National Market':

States should be giving residents more options to buy policies that suit their budgets, not the priorities of politicians. Rep. John Shadegg, a Republican from Arizona, has proposed federal legislation that would allow people to buy health insurance across state lines.

But Congress could do more than simply knocking down the barriers to interstate health insurance. For starters, it could make health insurance more portable. One way to do that would be to change the tax subsidies already going to those who get health insurance at work and turn them into refundable tax credits. This would make the subsidies available to everyone, and help millions of people buy coverage who can't afford it now. It would also help people keep their health insurance when they lose their jobs or move.

Freeing Americans to buy health insurance across state lines would give people more choices in health care. And giving individuals a direct tax break for purchasing coverage would put armies of consumers to work to find affordable policies. That would force states to lighten their regulations or lose out to other, less regulated states.

The complex problems in our health sector are best cured by a bigger dose of market competition, not more government intervention.

In that first cited paragraph my problem with the Progressive Right is in clear view: the government has NO ROLE in creating a 'National Market' unless the States agree to it and the federal government cannot 'allow' people to purchase services when their States have already had their say in things.  From that first intervention we now get the fine idea in the second paragraph that the federal government should over-rule the States to provide 'nice things' for individuals who are going from State to State with the express reason of taking up residence in a State more to their liking for either economic, social or other reasons.  And how will this be supported?


Free money to EVERYONE!

What could possibly go wrong here, right?

Yes, let us further inflate the system so that people cannot take advantage of their new position with the costs inherent in any such a move because they want to move and can weigh the risks and benefits on their own.  Yes, let us overburden the system yet still more, no?  Perhaps this will be Medirelocair?  Medimoveade?

What the hell is up with these people?

The reason that these are discrete markets under the control of the people and the States is that is the way the system is designed from the outset.

Believe it or not a Nation with far more people runs in this way without much in the way of intervention from the National end of things.  It is also the largest representative democracy on the planet: India.  Hey!  If we are supposed to look overseas for good practices, like the Left so often wants, then how about examining India's medical system and seeing just how and why it works with little government overhead?  We might be able to provide more care, at lower costs and with better quality... but then neither the Left nor the Right likes the idea that power should be in YOUR HANDS and not in THEIRS.

If you truly want a better health care system you must: remove the 'oversight' from government, remove the subsidies for insurance, end the current system for new entrants and allow those already in them to either receive a lump sum cash payout or continue the system in a declining state as it loses individuals in it, and take the huge hit to our economy that comes from doing something wrong-headed and driving a once working system to insolvency by 'helping' it from the federal end of things.

So, to the Left: why do you want to concentrate power and the power of lobbying over our government at the cost of the citizenry?

And to the Right: just why do you want to expand federal power, expand un-economic practices and refuse to look at market based and consumer driven alternatives that actually work in other places?

Just why are both 'sides' of the political spectrum so enamored of more National power?

And just why don't they trust the people, trust our States and stop messing up with a system after their 'fixes' make the problem deeper and worse?

But then I am neither on the Left nor the Right, but a free man looking to see that our liberty is not trampled by those willing to take away necessary liberty for ephemeral security of health care by National fiat.

04 September 2009

Double Standards: GC and the press

From my previous work on The Volunteer Fifth Column I cited the following:

8) On 19 OCT 2006 CNN has decided to become the anti-American outlet of choice for Iraqi insurgents and terrorists. That is when they decided that to 'tell the other side of the story' in Iraq meant showing the murder of a US soldier via sniper fire. This was *not* a military assault, but a pre-planned and executed murder of a US soldier for propaganda video footage. CNN has refused to call it such or to even indicate that it is an evidentiary piece for war crimes as the showing of such is actually against the Geneva Conventions. In previous eras that would be considered activity worthy of a War Crimes tribunal for those involved. Strange how so many are ready to call for that for US soldiers in combat and *not* for those publicizing the murders of US soldiers.

Joining CNN in this category is the New York Times with its running of a video showing the death of Staff Sgt. Hector Leija as reported by Gateway Pundit on 03 FEB 2007 due to the uproar over the Stars & Stripes first report on this by the NYT. Not only did they not go via their own codes of conduct and respect for the family of a fallen serviceman. By doing neither and showing such video, the NYT is also liable for War Crimes prosecution by abrogating the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of the wounded and dead of lawful combatants.

Because of the lax attitude towards holding anyone accountable for any actions, I doubt that either organization will be brought up on charges. Specifically under the following:

Convention IV
Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, 12 August 1949.
Part I. General Provisions
Art. 5 Where in the territory of a Party to the conflict, the latter is satisfied that an individual protected person is definitely suspected of or engaged in activities hostile to the security of the State, such individual person shall not be entitled to claim such rights and privileges under the present Convention as would, if exercised in the favour of such individual person, be prejudicial to the security of such State.

Where in occupied territory an individual protected person is detained as a spy or saboteur, or as a person under definite suspicion of activity hostile to the security of the Occupying Power, such person shall, in those cases where absolute military security so requires, be regarded as having forfeited rights of communication under the present Convention.

In each case, such persons shall nevertheless be treated with humanity and, in case of trial, shall not be deprived of the rights of fair and regular trial prescribed by the present Convention. They shall also be granted the full rights and privileges of a protected person under the present Convention at the earliest date consistent with the security of the State or Occupying Power, as the case may be.

The use and reporting of actual sniper fire to kill a lawful combatant by individuals not affiliated with the Armed Forces of the High Contracting Powers or of those that would be considered to be equivalent in a civil war from the opposing side are considered to be neutral unless they take part in activities AGAINST said lawful combatants. Thus, by using such coverage and not clearing it with the lawful Armed Forces command structure and publicizing it in a manner that is against any High Contracting Power or equivalent, the neutrality is abrogated and LOST.
Further in the same Convention:

Part III. Status and Treatment of Protected Persons
Section III. Occupied territories

Art. 68. Protected persons who commit an offence which is solely intended to harm the Occupying Power, but which does not constitute an attempt on the life or limb of members of the occupying forces or administration, nor a grave collective danger, nor seriously damage the property of the occupying forces or administration or the installations used by them, shall be liable to internment or simple imprisonment, provided the duration of such internment or imprisonment is proportionate to the offence committed. Furthermore, internment or imprisonment shall, for such offences, be the only measure adopted for depriving protected persons of liberty. The courts provided for under Article 66 of the present Convention may at their discretion convert a sentence of imprisonment to one of internment for the same period.
The penal provisions promulgated by the Occupying Power in accordance with Articles 64 and 65 may impose the death penalty against a protected person only in cases where the person is guilty of espionage, of serious acts of sabotage against the military installations of the Occupying Power or of intentional offences which have caused the death of one or more persons, provided that such offences were punishable by death under the law of the occupied territory in force before the occupation began.

The death penalty may not be pronounced against a protected person unless the attention of the court has been particularly called to the fact that since the accused is not a national of the Occupying Power, he is not bound to it by any duty of allegiance.

In any case, the death penalty may not be pronounced on a protected person who was under eighteen years of age at the time of the offence.

Now Iraq is not being occupied unless reporting is being done from a viewpoint of presenting "the other side's view" - which is that the US is 'occupying' Iraq. Promulgating that storyline can either be done in context of the US is helping a Free Iraq, and the sniping is an illegal activity that they are reporting upon and are, thusly, under all laws of Iraq that cover such reporting or that those doing the reporting for the presentation of such violence in the light of the insurgents agree that Iraq is 'occupied' and thus such reporting falls under that of 'occupied territory'. So the first case makes these news organizations liable to the civil criminal codes of Iraq for this, but this is also combat against an insurgent force. Mind you, if you push the 'Occupied Iraq' concept, then the folks doing this should be summarily charged and imprisoned under the UCMJ. But I suspect they wouldn't like being in Gitmo. In which case that brings us to the dead and wounded Geneva Convention. This brings us to:

Convention I
For the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field, Geneva, 12 August 1949
Chapter II. Wounded and Sick

Art. 12. Members of the armed forces and other persons mentioned in the following Article, who are wounded or sick, shall be respected and protected in all circumstances.
They shall be treated humanely and cared for by the Party to the conflict in whose power they may be, without any adverse distinction founded on sex, race, nationality, religion, political opinions, or any other similar criteria. Any attempts upon their lives, or violence to their persons, shall be strictly prohibited; in particular, they shall not be murdered or exterminated, subjected to torture or to biological experiments; they shall not wilfully be left without medical assistance and care, nor shall conditions exposing them to contagion or infection be created.
[Parts applying to urgent medical treatment ommitted]

Art. 13. The present Convention shall apply to the wounded and sick belonging to the following categories:

(1) Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict, as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces. (2) Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions: (a) that of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates; (b) that of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance; (c) that of carrying arms openly; (d) that of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war. (3) Members of regular armed forces who profess allegiance to a Government or an authority not recognized by the Detaining Power. (4) Persons who accompany the armed forces without actually being members thereof, such as civil members of military aircraft crews, war correspondents, supply contractors, members of labour units or of services responsible for the welfare of the armed forces, provided that they have received authorization from the armed forces which they accompany. (5) Members of crews, including masters, pilots and apprentices, of the merchant marine and the crews of civil aircraft of the Parties to the conflict, who do not benefit by more favourable treatment under any other provisions in international law. (6) Inhabitants of a non-occupied territory, who on the approach of the enemy, spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading forces, without having had time to form themselves into regular armed units, provided they carry arms openly and respect the laws and customs of war.


Art. 17. Parties to the conflict shall ensure that burial or cremation of the dead, carried out individually as far as circumstances permit, is preceded by a careful examination, if possible by a medical examination, of the bodies, with a view to confirming death, establishing identity and enabling a report to be made. One half of the double identity disc, or the identity disc itself if it is a single disc, should remain on the body.

Bodies shall not be cremated except for imperative reasons of hygiene or for motives based on the religion of the deceased. In case of cremation, the circumstances and reasons for cremation shall be stated in detail in the death certificate or on the authenticated list of the dead.
They shall further ensure that the dead are honourably interred, if possible according to the rites of the religion to which they belonged, that their graves are respected, grouped if possible according to the nationality of the deceased, properly maintained and marked so that they may always be found. For this purpose, they shall organize at the commencement of hostilities an Official Graves Registration Service, to allow subsequent exhumations and to ensure the identification of bodies, whatever the site of the graves, and the possible transportation to the home country. These provisions shall likewise apply to the ashes, which shall be kept by the Graves Registration Service until proper disposal thereof in accordance with the wishes of the home country.

Thus the wounded and dead due to sniper fire are to be treated honorably throughout the entire procedure from event to interment in the grave for the dead. Not going through proper military channels on any and all events of wounding and killing that are recorded and propagating them without military authorization is an act against the State or High Contracting Power or equivalent. That reporting removes all protection of the Geneva Conventions from those doing such reporting on the dead and wounded encountered against an insurgent force IN ADDITION to the local laws. I find such reporting to be absolutely reprehensible by ANY news organization and cannot see how they can ethically justify such as doing so puts them in contradiction of the honorable treatment of the dead and wounded. Both CNN and New York Times do not treat the dead and wounded honorably by their use of film to show partisan views of such events and are considered to be working outside of normal military channels against the Nation of those being wounded and killed, in this case the United States.

Why they are not under indictment under the Geneva Conventions or treated as espionage agencies is beyond me. The use of such is a War Crime by any definition and doing so to harm a State is against the Geneva Conventions and makes one working for the enemy of the State that is being targeted for such coverage.

When I hear all the blather from 'journalists' about the Geneva Convention and terrorists, I do, indeed, ask myself: why are they not raising a holy furor about these people violating not only journalistic standards but the laws of war?  By violating such standards 'journalists' lose their 'protected persons' status.

You do not show images, video or anything about the dead, sick or wounded on the battlefield unless it is first approved of by the powers in question who are within that territory during the time of your stay there.  While the US is fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan under orders from the Executive Branch carrying out the will of the Legislative Branch, the rule of law in those areas where US forces operate ARE the laws of war.  When a soldier is wounded or sick, they become a protected person under the GC and need the greatest protection from harm, abuse and exploitation possible.

Even with the AP already a member of The Volunteer Fifth Column, it now gets moved up a notch from mere mis-reporting and fauxtography to absolutely contravened activity.  The AP has now shown the image of a fallen soldier after receiving orders from Defense Secretary Gates,as seen at Blackfive reporting from Politico:

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is objecting “in the strongest terms” to an Associated Press decision to transmit a photograph showing a mortally wounded 21-year-old Marine in his final moments of life, calling the decision “appalling” and a breach of “common decency.”

The AP reported that the Marine’s father had asked – in an interview and in a follow-up phone call — that the image, taken by an embedded photographer, not be published.

AP reported in a story that it decided to make the image public anyway because it “conveys the grimness of war and the sacrifice of young men and women fighting it.”

The photo shows Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard of New Portland, Maine, who was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade in a Taliban ambush Aug. 14 in Helmand province of southern Afghanistan, according to The AP.

Gates wrote to Thomas Curley, AP’s president and chief executive officer. “Out of respect for his family’s wishes, I ask you in the strongest of terms to reconsider your decision. I do not make this request lightly. In one of my first public statements as Secretary of Defense, I stated that the media should not be treated as the enemy, and made it a point to thank journalists for revealing problems that need to be fixed – as was the case with Walter Reed.

“I cannot imagine the pain and suffering Lance Corporal Bernard’s death has caused his family. Why your organization would purposefully defy the family’s wishes knowing full well that it will lead to yet more anguish is beyond me. Your lack of compassion and common sense in choosing to put this image of their maimed and stricken child on the front page of multiple American newspapers is appalling. The issue here is not law, policy or constitutional right – but judgment and common decency.”

Neither the SECDEF nor the family of Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard wanted the image of him splashed on newspapers around the world.  There is decency for the dead in wartime and when the SECDEF 'asks' he is telling you that you can't do that as we have seen from the Geneva Conventions.

There is no equivalency between those who are fighting for no Nation utilizing their full liberty of Private War and having no command structure over them, no accountability and following none of the laws of war, to those that wear a uniform, are accountable, fight for a Nation, under a legitimate declaration of war, and are in a war zone.  No moral equivalency between the two.  When you splash the picture of a dead soldier that the SECDEF and the soldier's family have asked you not to publish you are not liable for a mere lawsuit.

You are liable to be tried for espionage under a military tribunal and shot if found guilty.

It is a war crime.

Not a civil crime, not due to the civil justice system, not a mere criminal penalty, but one of the highest crimes of war recognized for over a century.  No excuse can be put forward for doing that to any lawful combatant.


That is why getting adjudged an unlawful combatant is vital: it tells you what to do with those who aren't fighting under the recognized, civilized, laws of war.

I expect the Left to make all sorts of moralizations, if they even care about the laws of war as something other than mere talking points to misconstrue and bash the US with.  Then to use that misconstrued logic to perform their own heinous offenses against the sensibilities of all civilized people who recognize the laws of war.

Which our enemies DON'T.

There is accountability with being civilized and having laws you adhere to.

When you contravene them you are due a penalty.

I expect that penalty to be paid in a military court as that is the jurisdiction involved.

If someone would just get the guts to charge these scum for doing these actions and showing our brave soldiers images when they have been killed by those who follow no laws of war whatsoever.  Luckily the family was involved, too, so they didn't get a first notification via opening the front page of a newspaper and seeing their dead son on it.