Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Wednesday, April 15, 2015 8:17 pm

Odds and ends for April 15

Got your taxes done? Good.

Mars might not be hostile to life so much as just kind of grumpy toward it: The Martian rover Curiosity has found the first evidence of liquid water, considered a necessity for life, just beneath the planet’s surface.

The refusal of some red states to adopt Obamacare/expand Medicaid means that more than half a million Americans with serious mental illness are going untreated. You know, the courage of some Republicans in the face of other people’s suffering is a wonder to behold.

What is the economic cost of American gun violence? Mother Jones magazine purports to tell us.

The New York Times looks at the legacy of the company formerly known as Blackwater and its founder, Erik Prince. Less well examined: why in hell the U.S. government chose unaccountable private contractors to do work traditionally handled by the military in the first place.

If Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are the GOP’s idea of appealing to Latino voters, well, as Charlie Pierce so often says, I despair of the rebranding.

Silicon Valley big men on campus? Women have had it with your shit, and they’re going elsewhere. Good for them.

Tennessee may ban fake guns near schools. Real ones will still be OK.

The Charlotte Observer’s editorial board offers some medium-high-quality snark toward legislators and others in state government who appear hell-bent on ignoring both the law and the public.


Sunday, June 20, 2010 10:43 pm

See ya, wouldn’t wanna be ya: Erik Prince edition

Filed under: Hold! Them! Accountable! — Lex @ 10:43 pm
Tags: , ,

I noted two months ago that five Blackwater/Xe folks, including its ex-president and corporate counsel, had been indicted, and I asked at the time, “If, as the indictment alleges, the corporate counsel was involved, what are the odds that CEO Erik Prince wasn’t?”

Apparently Prince doesn’t like those odds very much because he’s reported to be moving to the United Arab Emirates, which — imagine that! — doesn’t have an extradition treaty with the U.S.

If we’re going to be doing extraordinary rendition, perhaps we could start with Mr. Prince.

UPDATE: Prince has put Xe up for sale. Buh-bye, Erik.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010 11:24 pm

Can somebody lock this guy up already?

Filed under: Aiee! Teh stoopid! It burns! — Lex @ 11:24 pm
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You’d think that with his company already in serious legal trouble, Erik Prince of Xe (nee Blackwater) would keep his damn mouth shut. But no: This guy apparently wants to freelance at least two wars, one of them against a nation possibly close to obtaining nuclear weapons, while disguising his warmongering as “protection” for U.S. oil interests.

Hey, why not? What could possibly go wrong?

Friday, April 16, 2010 9:11 pm

But they’re patriotic Americans!

Filed under: Hold! Them! Accountable! — Lex @ 9:11 pm
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Blackwater ex-president, four others indicted:

The former president of Blackwater Worldwide was charged Friday with using straw purchases to stockpile automatic weapons at the security firm and filing false documents to cover up gifts given to the king of Jordan.

Gary Jackson, 52, who left the company last year in a management shake-up, was charged along with four of his former colleagues, according to the federal indictment.

If, as the indictment alleges, the corporate counsel was involved, what are the odds that CEO Erik Prince wasn’t?

Interestingly — to me, anyway — Blackwater spokesman Mark Corallo was John Ashcroft’s PR director at Justice.

Saturday, January 9, 2010 11:07 pm

Odds and ends for 1/9

Roger Ailes: drama queen. Dude, the Islamicist terrorists of the world are not out to get you because the Islamcist terrorists of the world, by and large, have no freakin’ idea who you are.

Charles Murray, shorter: Man, there are a lot of black people in Paris.

Dick Cheney sure looks funny with that second southern orifice, thoughtfully torn for him by Phoenix Woman at Firedoglake.

Because everything else they’ve touched has worked out so well: Blackwater is a contender for the contract to train the Afghan national police force — and wants a cool billion for the job.

Speaking of Afghanistan, we’re out of our depth there from an intelligence standpoint (witness the CIA deaths at Forward Operating Base Chapman), and the general who wrote the report with that conclusion leaked it because apparently his superiors were ignoring him. But the surge will make everything peachy!

Thursday, December 3, 2009 9:15 pm

Odds and ends for 12/3

With friends like these: Iraqi lawyer helps U.S., gets tortured by Iraqis for his trouble and now is suing U.S. for $200MM for trying to murder him.

With friends like these, cont.: Someone else unhappy with U.S. conduct in Iraq — the head of Blackwater (now Xe), Erik Prince.

Women’s rights: I wouldn’t say I expect to enjoy reading this book, but I’m looking forward to it. Nick Kristoff can be an insufferable ass sometimes, but on this issue he is doing God’s work and has been for a long time. (h/t: Janice)

Reality check: Who are we, Zbigniew Brzezinski asks, to criticize Afghanistan about government corruption? “Americans, of course, hate hypocrisy,” the LA Times’ Andrew Malcolm observes, “by everyone else.”

Elizabeth Warren for president: “America today has plenty of rich and super-rich. But it has far more families who did all the right things, but who still have no real security.”

The Republicans have a plan for health-care reform: Prevent it by any means necessary.

They also have a plan for fixing the deficit: killing Social Security and Medicare. Actually, that’s backward. It’s not that they want to kill SocSec/Medicare to fix the deficit. It’s that they’re making a big deal about fixing the deficit (now; not so much when it was Bush’s deficit) because that’s a plausible excuse for what they really want to do, which is pulling the New Deal and Great Society up out of our culture by the roots. Unfortunately, they lack the intellectual integrity to say so forthrightly. When they did say so forthrightly, about Social Security, in 2005, they got their heads handed to them.

Call this bluff: The banksters at Royal Bank of Scotland, which got the world’s largest bailout, say they’ll quit if they don’t get their bonuses. Don’t let the door hit you in the bum as you leave, tools.

Dylan Ratigan FTW: Reject Bernanke. He started the damn fire.

Shorter Jonathan Weil: FDIC, man up. Banks, pay up. Amen.

Jason Linkins points out a bit of a discrepancy in criticism of the Afghanistan withdrawal date: Critics suggest that setting a start date for withdrawals will just embolden terrorists to wait until we leave. This ignores the fact that even while we’ve been threatening “to go hard, forever,” the average yearly number of global jihadi terror attacks  has increased 607% since we invaded Iraq. Oops.

Relatedly: George Will takes a couple of cheap shots at Obama, and embraces the flawed slippery-slope argument in the item above, and mistakenly believes that Afghanistan is winnable anymore, but he also believes the right thing for most of the right reasons: This will not end well.

To all the first-time voters who supported Obama because you thought he’d get us out of George Bush’s ill-conceived wars: Here’s to the loss of your political virginity.

Lou Dobbs’ presidential aspirations = FAIL: Anti-immigrant group pulls support. Bwa!

Sunday, September 13, 2009 12:58 am

Goose, gander, sauce, etc.

Filed under: I want my money back. — Lex @ 12:58 am
Tags: , ,

The government has dropped its contract with the liberal organizing group ACORN after hidden cameras capture staffers giving tax advice to people posing as operators of a prostitution ring. Good.

The government also has dropped its contract with Blackwater, now known as Xe, after its employees indiscriminately fire on a bunch of civilians, killing at least 35. Also good.

Oh. Wait.

(h/t: Digby)

UPDATE: OK, I admit it: I laughed.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009 8:07 pm

Witnesses: Blackwater murdered at least one informant

Filed under: You're doing WHAT with my money?? — Lex @ 8:07 pm
Tags: , ,

Disclaimers up front: The source material for this article, uncorroborated by any other person or document, constitutes two depositions, given under penalty of perjury by a person claiming to have been a Blackwater manager and someone who may or may not still be on the Blackwater (now known as Xe Services LLC) payroll.

So this may be totally bogus.

But if it’s not, holy hell:

A former Blackwater employee and an ex-US Marine who has worked as a security operative for the company have made a series of explosive allegations in sworn statements filed on August 3 in federal court in Virginia. The two men claim that the company’s owner, Erik Prince, may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company. The former employee also alleges that Prince “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe,” and that Prince’s companies “encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life.”

The two sources also claim that Blackwater, a private government contractor, allowed the unjustified killing of Iraqi civilians, knowingly employed people who were mentally unfit for duty (and fired mental-health professionals who refused to certify employees as fit) and illegally trafficked in weapons.  (ABC reported in 2008 that a grand jury here in North Carolina, where Xe is based, was looking into similar allegations. I can’t find any record in Google of charges being filed, and as much of a target as Blackwater has become for people who opposed the Bush administration’s Iraq strategy, if charges had been filed I’m sure we’d have heard about it.)

Again, we have zero corroborating evidence that any of this is true. But if it is true, I wonder how much the U.S. government knew about it at the time, or shortly thereafter.

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