Movie review: “Olympus has Fallen”

Spoiler alert.  The following tells how the movie ends.  This is actually written for those who have already seen it and probably have their own opinions of it.

What really stands out about “Olympus has fallen” is how it portrays the U.S. executive branch.  The first half hour of the movie is dedicated to building a picture of the President as if he is royalty and lives in Castle White House.  He is surrounded by body guards and treated as if he embodies all that is important about the nation.

The real humor about this is the fact that, before they are elected, most people (especially members of the party that didn’t win) shudder at the thought of any candidate actually being given control of “the button” (think Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Michelle Bachmann, George Bush, Donald Trump, etc).  Hollywood seems to think candidates are magically transformed from being complete idiots to being masters of intellect and thoughtful reflection after they are elected.  They aren’t.  The media just treats them as if they do.

Then, as the movie progresses, it becomes obvious that the sissy President is completely unwilling to sacrifice any of the executive branch personalities in order to save the country from total annihilation.  The irony is that Presidents think nothing of sacrificing thousands of military and civilian lives in wars that have absolutely nothing to do with defending the country (which includes almost every war the U.S. has ever been involved in).

In the course of the movie, it is noted that, if the U.S. is forced by the North Korean bad guys (Norks) to withdraw from South Korea, North Korea will overrun the South in 72 hours.  I understand the movie is fiction, but it certainly does make one wonder why, with an economy 25 tomes greater than that of the North, South Korea can’t defend itself better than that.

Toward the end of the movie, when the Norks are hauling the SecDef off to be executed, she bellows out the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, her last words as she’s dragged across the floor kicking and screaming.  Luckily she is rescued, saving the country from having to suffer the loss of someone with that kind of mindless loyalty.

After the attack is defeated by a single man, the President gives a lofty speech about patriotism and how the attack made the U.S. a stronger country.  A better ending would have been an impeachment of the president and prosecution of the Speaker of the House, both of whom considered the President more important than the entire rest of the country.

One of the things that differentiate the totalitarian states of Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany (among others) from the U.S. is that loyalties in Russia and Germany were to the person who was head of state.  Luckily that could never happen here in the good ol’ U.S. of A (I mean aside from the blind reverence loyal democrats have for Obama and republicans had for George Bush no matter what they do).

The NSA watches everything you do on the internet

[See update below]

This is not unfounded hysteria.  First, Snowden has already leaked documents proving it, but if you’re still skeptical, go to your computer right now and do a Google search for pressure cookers and backpacks.  I dare you.

Government logic goes something like this:  The last terrorist attack (that would be the one the government is perpetually trying to defend against) involved pressure cookers and backpacks, so simply using the words pressure cooker and a backpack in relatively close proximity now voids your Fourth Amendment rights (not that you really have any Fourth Amendments rights left).

Okay, now that your Google search has triggered the NSA’s threshold for being a possible terrorist threat, just sit back and wait for them to arrive in their big shiny black SUVs.

Think I’m kidding?  Guess again.  They do this about a 100 times times a week.

[UPDATE 8/2/13]  The Guardian has an article that expands on this a little.  The officers were from county law enforcement agencies and were not federal agents and the investigation was triggered by web searches done by Catalano’s husband on a computer where he was formerly employed.

Israel launches a new TV News network

In response to Al Jazeera’s expansion into the U.S, Israel is launching a new 24-hour TV news network that will report the news from a more Israel-friendly perspective.

The channel will dedicate roughly seventy per cent of its coverage to news from around the world and thirty per cent to news from Israel, i24 News’s founders say. Its broadcasts are currently streamed live on the Web and will soon be available via satellite in more than three hundred million homes worldwide, including Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. It plans to expand to the United States in early 2014.

It would be hard to imagine a news network any more friendly to Israel than the news outlets already available in the U.S. (CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, CBS, ABC, and NBC).

How the Bradley Manning trial might become a tool to get NSA whistle blower Edward Snowden

[See update at bottom]

The closing arguments are over and the Bradley Manning case is in the hands of a military judge.  At the same time, Edward Snowden is holed up in Russia seeking asylum on the grounds that whistle blowers cannot receive justice in the U.S., a claim largely confirmed by the rabid mistreatment of Bradley Manning (and others before him) by the U.S. Department of Justice.

For most observers, Manning’s fate is a foregone conclusion.  He will not be declared innocent because such a verdict does not suit the government’s purpose which is to make an example of him to discourage further revelations, by others, of highly embarrassing information about the government’s abuse of power.

But, the Manning trial also presents an interesting opportunity.  While it’s the government’s three-year long abuse of Manning’s person and rights that provides clear justification for Snowden’s request for asylum in Russia, a tempered judgement followed by a light sentence for Manning could partly neutralize that justification in the eyes of many.

Governments rarely do anything for humanitarian reasons and it’s doubtful that any country offering Snowden asylum is doing so out of concern for Snowden or for human rights in general.  They are doing it because they see a benefit for themselves that exceeds the cost.   Snowden is a great propaganda opportunity for other governments to give the U.S. a taste of its own medicine, but that only works if the U.S. continues to reinforce its image as a bully toward those who would expose the truth.

Manning is old news.  Most people don’t even know his trial is going on (largely because of the blackout by establishment news organizations presumably in cooperation with government).  But Snowden has become a folk hero with a near unlimited capacity to be a perpetual embarrassment to many western governments by exposing the fact that the bulk of their surveillance efforts have little to do with terrorism and much to do with maintaining control over their own domestic populations.

It’s a no-brainer that lenient treatment of Manning could help the government advance the argument that the U.S., while far from welcoming whistle blowers, does not summarily execute them or lock them up for life.  It might not only help their case for extradition of Snowden, it might also help them to get their hands on someone else who has successfully thrown the world’s only superpower into a desperate panic: Jullian Assange.

One thing is a certainty.  The U.S. will stop at nothing to get their hands on Snowden.  It is not bound by any legal or ethical constraints, it has no respect for the sovereignty of other nations or for international law, and it certainly doesn’t hold the moral high ground.  If Manning’s verdict and sentencing reflects leniency, it is probably part of a bigger plan.  The government’s obsession with getting Snowden shows their desperation.  And far from losing the war, Snowden is actually gaining support as more people become aligned with the notion that the government really has abused its powers, thereby giving credibility to Snowden’s contention that he is actually doing a service for the country rather than trying to damage it.  That is the last thing the U.S. government wants to see.

[UPDATE 7/31/13]

Washington will use Manning’s verdict to persuade the world community to extradite other whistleblowers back to the US, since the leaker was acquitted of the capital offense of aiding the enemy, former UK MI5 agent Annie Machon told RT.

The fallacy that 9/11 justifies government secrecy

Ok, let’s get one thing straight. 9/11 is not a justification for secret government operations. 9/11 was a retaliation for decades of secret (and not so secret) government operations. The U.S. initiated 29 regime change actions since the end of WWII, with many middle eastern and Muslim countries (Iraq, Syria, Iran, etc) being targeted multiple times. To think that the events of 9/11 were not a response to U.S. military and CIA operations in the middle east isn’t evidence of ignorance. It’s evidence of utter delusion.

That they finally retaliated should be no surprise. The surprise is that it took them so long.

U.S. government secrecy is not the answer to terrorism. It’s the cause of terrorism.

A suggestion.


  • You know more about Anthony Weiner’s wiener than you know about the Bradlety Manning trial.
  • You know more about the new “royal baby” than you do about the revelations of massive NSA domestic surveillance.
  • You know more about juror B37 than you do about the campaign of threats being employed to bring Edward Snowden back to the U.S.

…then you really ought to consider finding a different source for your news.

A Few Friday Links

  • The New York Times blames republicans for abuses of power by intelligence agencies under the Obama administration.  Ten of the FISA courts judges were appointed by republican presidents.
  • Congress is going to invite some NSA critics to testify. If the government weren’t so busy hunting, prosecuting, and persecuting them, they’d invite a few critics with real first hand knowledge to testify. Like say, William Binney, Russell Tice, Daniel Ellsberg, Babak Pasdar, Mark Klein, Thomas Drake, Jullian Assange, Bradley Manning, and Edward Snowden.  One thing is certain. No one with a brain will ever be able to seriously accuse Congress of being on a relentless search for the truth.



DNA leads to wrong man being jailed for 5 months on murder charges

DNA evidence isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  A law enforcement data base indicated that DNA scraped from under the finger nails of a murder victim in California belonged to Lukis Anderson who was immediately arrested and charged with murder.  Anderson spent five months in jail before cops were forced to admit that Anderson couldn’t have been the killer since he was confined to the Santa Clara County Medical Center for severe intoxication at the time of the murder.

Investigators theorize that the paramedics who transported the intoxicated Anderson to the hospital inadvertently picked up some of his DNA and contaminated the murder victim when they were called to the crime scene just hours later.

One of the most persistent myths about the criminal justice system is the near infallibility of some types of forensic evidence.  Many of these myths are now being questioned.  The way DNA evidence is presented at trial makes a conviction virtually certain.  Fingerprints, ballistic evidence,  and fiber evidence are also commonly presented as being scientifically reliable when there is very little scientific study backing up those claims.  The biggest purveyors of the mythical powers of forensics is the plethora of crime scene investigation shows on TV these days.