Monday 2nd of August 2021

the men in white coats are coming soon...

on the bench
WATCH: Biden adds fodder to dementia speculation as spirited response on filibuster reform degenerates into word salad

President Joe Biden apparently had some crucial things to say about reforming the Senate filibuster, the legislative speed bump against ruling-party dominance, but his descent into unintelligibility left his plans a mystery.

Speaking on Thursday at his first formal press conference since taking office – having taken almost twice as long as any president in 100 years to invite reporters to ask questions – 78-year-old Biden at times struggled to express his thoughts, particularly on the filibuster. At issue was the longstanding Senate rule that makes it more difficult for the ruling party to force through partisan legislation, which Democrats have called for eliminating now that they control the White House and both chambers of Congress.

Asked about the issue, Biden began, "I believe we should go back to what existed when I came to the Senate 120 years ago" – a statement that supporters defended as a joke. He then noted that there were only 58 filibuster motions in 54 years, through 1971, but five times that many in 2020. He may have forgotten that all of last year's motions came from his party, which was then the Senate minority.


Read more:




buried in obscure legal provisions and shrouded in secrecy...

MEMBERS OF THE U.S. special operations forces deployed to 154 countries, or roughly 80 percent of the world’s nations, last year, but information about exactly where elite forces conduct missions, under what authorities they operate, who they’ve killed, and whether they’re adhering to the laws of armed conflict is closely guarded, buried in obscure legal provisions, shrouded in secrecy, or allegedly unknown even to Special Operations Command.

The command, known as SOCOM, will only name half the countries where its forces were active in 2020. It claims that its personnel — Navy SEALs, Army Green Berets, and Marine Corps Raiders among them — have captured or killed “thousands of terrorists” under one obscure program but also that it doesn’t track such data. SOCOM refuses to provide even basic information about publicly acknowledged operations.

The Biden administration has imposed temporary limits on counterterrorism drone strikes and commando raids outside conventional war zoneslike Afghanistan to “ensure the president has full visibility on proposed significant actions in these areas,” Emily Horne, a National Security Council spokesperson, told The Intercept. But so far there is little indication that the new administration will be more open with the American people about what commandos are doing and where they’re doing it.

“We need greater transparency around counterterrorism,” Luke Hartig, a senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council in the Obama White House and now a fellow in New America’s International Security program, told The Intercept. “We need to do it carefully, in a way that doesn’t endanger special operators or their host-nation partners, but greater transparency about where we’re conducting operations and why we’re conducting operations is essential.”

U.S. Special Operations Command has grown exponentially over the last 20 years. “Special operations-specific funding” topped out at $3.1 billion in 2001, compared with $13.1 billion now. Before 9/11, there were roughly 43,000 special operations forces. Today, there are 74,000 military personnel and civilians in the command. Two decades ago, an average of 2,900 commandos were deployed overseas in any given week. That number now stands at 4,500, according to SOCOM spokesperson Ken McGraw.

As the command’s global reach has grown, so has the toll on America’s commandos. While special operations forces make up just 3 percent of American military personnel, they have absorbed more than 40 percent of the casualties, mainly in conflicts across the Greater Middle East. Suicide rates among commandos are also the highest in the military and outpace the general population, according to an internal study of special operators’ suicides between 2012 and 2015, commissioned by SOCOM and obtained by The Intercept. “Nearly all cases suffered some form of PTSD or emotional trauma following the first deployment,” the report notes.

A special operations culture fixated on “force employment and mission accomplishment has led to sustained high operational tempo” to the “detriment of leadership, discipline and accountability,” a 2020 SOCOM ethics report noted. The Pentagon’s Office of Inspector General recently announced an investigation into whether SOCOM has implemented “law of war” mandates and whether war crimes have been properly reported.

America’s most elite troops specialize in 12 core competencies, including counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, security force assistance, unconventional warfare, and “direct action,” a euphemism for the types of missions that resulted in the killings of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadiby Army Delta Force commandos and Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden by Navy SEALs. Other missions have included the 2013 abduction of terror suspect Abu Anas al-Libi in Libya by Delta Force operators; a 2017 SEAL raid in Yemen that killed more than two dozen civilians; and a drone program run by SEALs that resulted in 54 declared airstrikes in Somalia last year, more than were carried out under the George W. Bush and Obama administrations combined.

Three programs have been especially key to recent U.S. special operations around the world, according to unreported SOCOM statistics, exclusive documents, congressional testimony, and interviews with former government officials and others. The trio of efforts — one employing proxy troops, another supporting surrogate irregular forces, and a globe-spanning training program with a troubled past — underscores a host of largely invisible dangers, from failures to rigorously evaluate activities to a subversion of human rights safeguards to a pattern of loose oversight of commando missions that experts say could lead to catastrophe.


Read more:



Free Julian Assange Now !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


ted's view...




The president is suffering from dementia. I’m a cartoonist and a writer and I am most assuredly not a gerontologist. I did not go to medical school. If I am not an expert in aging and cognitive decline, how do I know Biden has dementia? 

The same way I and you and everyone else know things to be true despite our lack of credentials: experience and pattern recognition.

I don’t need to be an ornithologist in order to identify a blue jay.

I’m not a doctor yet I was right and my doctor was wrong when I told her I had a hernia and she said I didn’t; I’d had one on my left side in 1999 and this felt like that, but on my right. Knowing your own body sometimes counts for more than formal education.

I didn’t go to NYU film school. Despite my lack of official accreditation in cinema I know, as do you, that Meryl Streep is a better actor than Brendan Fraser. We know this to be true because we have seen a lot of movies.

When my car’s wheel well issues a rubbing sound that gets faster when I accelerate I know it’s probably an issue involving a) brake pads, (b) ball bearings (if the car has significant mileage) or (c) wheel alignment. I’m not a mechanic. But I’m 57, I’ve driven since I was 15 and had rubbing-something sounds enough to have learned what it probably means.

When I watched Biden’s first presidential press conference last week I didn’t have to have a M.D. or Ph.D appended to my name to recognize the clear, painfully obvious signs of dementia. My mother died of Alzheimer’s a little over a year ago. The president looked and acted like my mom about two years before she died: valiantly struggling to hold it together, moments of lucidity and occasionally of brilliance alternating with terrifying brain freezes, random rambling in search of connection and reaction and cringy rhetorical crashes when the fremdschämen-o-meter shot to 11.

It took five reporters a question and four follow-ups to make Biden understand that he was being asked whether he favored the elimination of the filibuster, a question at the top of political news since he came into office. Here’s what the commander-in-chief finally came up with: “If we could end it with 51 [votes], we would have no problem. You’re going to have to — the existing rule — it’s going to be hard to get a parliamentary ruling [my emphasis] that allows 50 votes to end the filibuster, the existence of a filibuster.”

Abdicating journalism, corporate media outlets dutifully transcribed Biden’s response despite its glaring wrongness. Whether or not the filibuster-as-we-know it survives has nothing, nada, zip to do with a Senate Parliamentarian ruling. Paradoxically, a simple 51-vote majority could kill the filibuster.

Biden’s answer was, had to be—there’s no other possible explanation—the product of dementia. Pre-dementia, after all, Biden was as intimately knowledgeable about Senate rules and procedure as any human being on earth. He served 36 years as a senator and 8 years as vice president/speaker of the senate—a total of 42 years. Pre-dementia, there was no world in which Biden would have said anything so totally, crazily, amazingly incorrect. Not drunk, not asleep, not at all.

Dementia frustrates. As its victim’s inner life becomes harder to articulate to others, they occasionally lash out in disproportionate anger. We’ve seen this more and more with Biden, watching a famously affable guy with a patented aw-shucks grin deteriorate into nervous hardness and even rage.

And dementia befuddles. It mixes your knowledge and memories and opinions into a blender; though you often sound OK what spews out of your mouth increasingly approaches randomness. That’s what happened to Biden during his presser. He obviously conflated two bits of news—the parliamentarian’s ruling that a proposed minimum wage increase be stripped from the coronavirus relief bill, which grabbed news attention, with the question about the filibuster. Vice President Biden would never have done that. Senator Biden wouldn’t have either. He knew/knows this stuff too well.

Everyone forgets stuff. It happens more with age. What’s happening to Biden isn’t the occasional senior moment, nor is it stuttering—as Biden himself has said. Biden crashing and burning on a question about senate procedure would be like me messing up questions about Photoshop or Central Asia, two things that have been central to most of my life. If I start mixing up RGB and CMYK and Ashkabat and Astana, topics I know forward and backward and about which I am obsessed, that will point not to whatever-no-biggie but to worrisome cognitive decline.

Biden supporters who deny the visible signs of Biden’s mental deterioration are acting no more rationally than the Trumpies who made excuses for the former president’s crazy behavior. You can feel relief that Trump is gone and believe Biden to be an improvement while conceding that Biden isn’t up to the job and should step down in favor of Vice President Kamala Harris. This is the U.S. presidency. Good enough is anything but.

The fact that “Biden has dementia” is an RNC/Fox News talking point does not make it incorrect. Denying obvious truths—Trump is a racist jerk, climate change is real and caused by mankind, masks help fight COVID, Biden has dementia—makes you look stupid and silly and no one should listen to you.

Trump’s war against truth was toxic; his supporters and enablers undermined decency and logical rhetoric, essential foundations of civil discourse. Democrats who refuse to watch Biden’s dismal unscripted public appearances and who fail to question the president’s unwillingness to face the press at the same rate as his predecessors, and who omit mention of his frequent mental breakdowns, are no better than Trump and the Republicans.



(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of “Political Suicide: The Fight for the Soul of the Democratic Party.” You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)


Read more:



Read from top.



wakey wakey...


On Thursday, Biden three times bent over and, taking care to set his eyes to “crazy,” whispered into the microphone as though he was auditioning to play a stalker calling from inside the house to terrorize a baby-sitter in a 1980s TV movie. Defending one of his bills, he whispered, “I got them $1.9 trillion in relief so far.” Later, to another question, Biden whispered again, “I wrote the bill on the environment. Why would I not be for it?”


Because he’s just reciting the buzzwords his staffers dream up, Biden may not even be aware of how silly he sounds when he uses online-cultist words such as “Latinx” to refer to Latinos, who mostly haven’t even heard of the term and never use it. He obviously had no idea how insulting he sounded to Latinos when he suggested “they’re worried that they’ll be vaccinated and deported.” Is our president aware that most Latinos are here legally?

In the same remarks, he confused the Tuskegee Airmen (a group of heroic black World War II pilots) with the victims of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, which is about as dumb as confusing coronavirus with Corona beer.

All of these blunders came in the same 30 seconds, as though Biden were saving the RNC some editing work by creating a campaign ad for them in real time.

I guess we’ll have to wait until the moment when Biden starts emitting a stream of actual gibberish, or answering the press using sock puppets, before our media acknowledge the obvious: Since our president isn’t fit to find his way home after dark, do we really believe he’s the one running the country?


Read more:



Read from top.... I guess the president is on lithium pills... and drinks helium at lunch...