Sep 192014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow, day 151.  I’ve only had a couple hours of sleep since yesterday morning.  I just can’t get to sleep.  I have no idea why.  I have to be up early tomorrow for physical therapy, and that will wipe out my research time, so expect a Personal Update only on Saturday morning.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 4:07 (average 4:52).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From The New Yorker: Two days after voting against the Paycheck Fairness Act, a law that would help women to obtain equal pay, the four female Republicans in the United States Senate co-sponsored a bill that would slash their salaries to seventy-one per cent of what their male colleagues earn.

The senators—Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)—said that the best way to take a stand against big government’s intrusive attempts to mandate equal pay for women was to take a twenty-nine-per-cent pay cut themselves.

“The days of the federal government forcing us to earn as much as male senators are over,” Ayotte said. “We will not stop fighting until we make twenty-nine per cent less.”

Fischer said that after voting down paycheck equity for women across America, the female Republican senators realized that they themselves were “burdened by the tyranny of equal pay” in the U.S. Senate.

LOL Andy! Fat chance! With Republicans, deprivation is for the rest of us only, never for them!

From Daily Kos: Noxious fundamentalist gasbag Bryan Fischer has come up with a bizarre new definition of a ‘Christian’ nation: it’s one where you can buy bacon. According to Fischer:

Barf Bag Alert!

 

What an idiot! According to him, India is a Christian nation. Bacon is on the menu there, but it’s Hindu.  Lets also not forget places where Buddhism is the dominant religion.

From NY Times: An unusual but overwhelming coalition in the House voted Wednesday to authorize the training and arming of Syrian rebels to confront the militant Islamic State, backing President Obama after he personally pleaded for support.

The 273-to-156 vote was over a narrow military measure with no money attached, but it took on outsize importance and was infused with drama, reflecting the tension and ambiguity of members wary of the ultimate path to which any war vote could lead.

There was rare unity between House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio and Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the minority leader, who strongly backed the training legislation and sought to portray it as a modest measure. And the opposition included the equally unlikely pairings of antiwar Democrats and hawkish Republicans.

Of course most Republicans support a measure that uses taxpayer dollars to buy weapons from military contractors to arm the rebels. I see a problem, because there is no money attached. How much do you want to bet that Republican’s will want cuts in spending for poor and middle class necessities to balance the cost of funding it?

Cartoon:

0919Cartoon

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Sep 172014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow day 149.  I need to get busy to prepare my notebook for next week’s Salem trip, and I have a grocery delivery coming tomorrow, so I remain quite busy.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:01 (average 4:38).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Fantasy Football Report:

Here’s the latest from our own fantasy football league, Lefty Blog Friends:

Scores:

2Scores

Standings:

2Standings

If you wish to follow our league, you may do so here.

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: The Neo-Confederate movement has been trying to jump start itself of late.  It has been an especially heady few months for the League of the South, a theocratic, White nationalist group based in Killen, Alabama

Some of its leading members have been running for office in Maryland.  And League president Michael Hill has gone so far as to call for the formation of paramilitary death squads. He now claims that he wasn’t doing any such thing, but that if he were, we would just have to find out for ourselves. (We, being liberal "bedwetters.")

Anyway, as it turned out, just around the time Hill was protesting too much, the Southern Poverty Law Center learned that the League was indeed organizing a secret paramilitary unit which calls itself "The Indomitables." 

ISIL… Republican Supply-side pseudo-Christian version!

From Crooks and Liars: Once again, the ladies and gentlemen of our Corporate Media show how very out of touch they are with those who don’t travel in the same rarefied circles.

In keeping with their self-appointed roles as political gatekeepers, Mrs. Greenspan and Chris Cillizza quickly discount the report from reporter Perry Bacon Jr., in which he says Democrats are expressing doubts that Hillary Clinton is liberal enough for them.

The marquee stars quickly discount that. Mrs. Greenspan notes that while getting 350 people to come out to an Iowa church basement, as Bernie Sanders did, is "a lot," she and Cillizza quickly discount him because blah blah blah, he can’t raise the big money that an Elizabeth Warren can.

 

And this is the network Republicans claim is all librul.

From TPM: Liberal comedian Bill Maher confessed that he’s not actually an atheist in a Monday Funny Or Die video.

He said that he just plays an atheist and is actually quite religious.

 

Do you think we should believe him?

Cartoon:

0917Cartoon

Originally posted 9/17/2011.

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Sep 132014
 

I’ve been hearing a not if noise of late from America’s lunatic fringe, aka the Republican Party that we should be burning the Koran, forbidding the construction of mosques, expelling Muslims from the armed services, etc., because the conflict against ISIS is a conflict against Islam,  So let us ask, “Is ISIS Islamic?”  The following author says no.

0913isil

Conservatives reacted harshly to President Obama’s claim on Wednesday night that the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) “is not Islamic,” accusing the commander-in-chief of naiveté and ignorance. “What kindergartner briefs the President on terrorism?” Ron Christie, a GOP strategist tweeted. “ISIS says it’s Islamic, lots of people say it’s Islamic, only the president won’t,” George Will told Fox News shortly after the speech.

But the full context of Obama’s remark points to an important distinction between Islam and the extremist ideology that’s sweeping parts of Iraq and Syria. “No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim,” Obama said. “ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way.”

Indeed, even from the viewpoint of a casual observer, ISIS is an abomination to Islam. Explosions tend to capture the media’s attention more than peaceful coexistence, and a minuscule minority of extremist groups claiming to be Islamic have exploited this fact as a way to reinvent Islam as a “violent” religion. But just because you shout God’s name while committing murder doesn’t make your actions righteous. Islam, as millions of Muslims can attest, is a peaceful religion that calls on its followers to choose community over conflict, or, as it says in Surah al-Hujurat of the Qur’an (49:13): “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise [each other]).”

But ISIS clearly has little regard for this or other fundamental tenets of Islam… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Think Progress>

I fully agree.  ISIS has nothing in common with authentic Islam.  Their behavior is the opposite of Islam’s most basic tenants.  If short, they are pseudo-Muslims.  Then, to whom can we righty compare them?

Pseudo-Muslims are Dominionist.  They believe that a theocracy should rule over the smallest details of people’s personal lives.  In that way, they are just like Republican Supply-side pseudo-Christians.  Pseudo-Muslims have formed violent militias.  In that way they are just like Republican Supply-side pseudo Christians.  Note that the Bundy militia shares the above graphic with ISIS.  It’s hard to tell them apart.  Pseudo-Muslims execute people they consider unclean.  In that way they are just like Republican Supply-side pseudo-Christians, who have called for the death penalty for gays, and US Republican Senators and Congressmen actually helped Ugandan pseudo-Christians draft a law to execute gays.  Thank God it failed!

A pattern is emerging here.  Religion is not the problem.  Authentic Muslims and authentic Christians get along just fine.  The problems come, when extremists with a political agenda hijack a religion to impose authority over others, usually through violently enforced piety codes.

Be warned.  There is one major difference between pseudo-Muslims and pseudo-Christians.  The latter are here and have the support of the Republican Party.

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Sep 122014
 

The sound is deafening.  Knees are jerking all over the country.  Some are jerking, because Obama’s plan to combat ISIS is doing too much.  The rest are jerking, because Obama’s plan to combat ISIS is doing too little.  At such a time, what’s a knee to do?  At least for now, my knee is going to wait.  Here’s some analysis, the speech, a link to the transcript, and some commentary.

0912ObamaISIS

“I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil.” ~President Obama

In a prime-time address to the nation (video below) President Obama laid out a plan to deal with the militant group ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), which currently has large portions of Iraq as well as parts of Syria – an area about the size of Maryland – under its control.

“So tonight, with a new Iraqi government in place, and following consultations with allies abroad and Congress at home, I can announce that America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat. Our objective is clear: we will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy.”

President Obama made it clear that he would take this action, even inside Syria, and would be sending an additional 475 American service members to Iraq to support increased airstrikes. The President also called on congress to provide funding to train Syrian fighters, and continued humanitarian aid for those directly affected by ISIS.

ISIS or ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and Levant) was formerly a major faction of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, the same AQII we fought in Iraq post Saddam. However they were disavowed by Al-Qaeda central over actions in Syria, and the fact that they disobeyed orders to kill fewer civilians.

The brutality of ISIS dwarfs Al-Qaeda’s, with mass killings along the path as they take over more and more land, as well as the beheadings of kidnapped journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff. Their aim is to establish a caliphate (an ever expanding Islamic homeland under Sharia law) in Iraq and Syria. U.S. officials and experts believe they have immediate ambitions for Jordan, Lebanon, and Israel as well, an area referred to in the Arab world as the “Levant”, which is why the President refers to the terrorist group as ISIL and not ISIS. And regardless of quibbling over ISIS or ISIL, one point the President made deconstructed the notion that ISIS/ISIL deserves to be called either “Islamic” or a “State”, pointing out that the terrorist group is not truly Islamic, as no religion including Islam would condone their actions, and more often than not their victims are other Muslims. Nor are they truly a “State”, States have internationally recognized sovereignty, terrorist groups don’t, even if they do temporarily capture a lot of land.

In the most controversial portion of his speech, President Obama claimed (with echoes of George W. Bush declaring himself “the Decider” bouncing back from the distant walls of the canyons of modern history) that he has the authority to act alone, but then added that he welcomes the “support” of Congress. Implied was that if he didn’t get the support of Congress, he would proceed anyhow…

Inserted from <Liberals Unite>

Obviously Republicans are screaming for all out war, and that is the worst possible approach.  It’s exactly what ISIS wants.  On the left many are saying Obama is no different from Bush.  I take issue with them too.  For starters, Obama is not trying to lie us into combat the way Bush did.  He has not even claimed that ISIS is an immediate threat to the US.  Instead he claims that, unless they are stopped now, they could become a threat to the US, an accurate evaluation.  Also under Bush, participation by foreign troops was minimal, with the US and Brits carrying the brunt of the combat load.  Obama minimizes exposure to combat for US personnel.  Those are huge differences.

Here is the speech in it’s entirety.

And for a complete transcript, click here

The problem with what Obama had to say is that it’s incomplete.  There’s still much to much that we do not know.  At this point, I consider it more of an introduction.  As for Congress, they do have the prerogative to act, but have so far shown no more inclination to do anything more that duck their own responsibility.  Obama is claiming authority under the 2001 AUMF, but Congress may cancel that, if they so choose.  I expect posturing, whining, accusations, and little more.

The most constructive view I have seen to date came in a discussion between Rachel Maddow and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA).

For now, I’m going to wait and see what develops.  But I will say one thing.  With ISIS beheading Americans, failure to take some action is the fastest way to ensure political defeat.

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Sep 112014
 

11-911

Twelve years ago this morning, the first airliner hit the tower, as I was about to leave for work.  When I arrived, I learned about the second hit.  My duties that day were to contact top executives of Fortune 500 companies headquartered in New York on behalf of our client, a major developer of computer operating systems, to arrange site visits and one-on-one executive interviews for our client’s research team.  What timing!  I felt uncomfortable calling, but the account exec’s assistant, an airhead and a Republican, ordered me to go to work.  Many of my executive contacts were in the Twin Towers.  I got on the telephone.  Nobody was answering, and many of the lines were out of order.  I did get through and spoke to a man in one of the towers above the fire, who knew he would not survive.  He said he couldn’t dial out and gave me his home number.  He asked me to call his wife and tell her he loved her.  I did.  She was pretty hysterical.  Who could blame her. That shook me up so much that I went to the account executive’s office, and told him I was done calling New York for the day.  He asked me what idiot had told me to call into New York under these circumstances.  Because of that experience, I cannot think of 9/11 without my heart going out to the people who lost loved ones that tragic day, and I consider it imperative to do whatever we can, within reason, to prevent a reoccurrence.  One failing, in that regard, is that we often ask who and how, but all too seldom, ask why.  So as we remember the events of 9/11/2001, perhaps it may help if we consider the other 9/11, 9/11/1973.

Twenty eight years earlier, the roles were reversed.  Instead of being attacked, the US had arranged and was assisting an attack to overthrow the democratically elected government of Chile, and the installation of one of the most infamous dictators of the twentieth century, Augusto Pinochet.  An article by Peter Kornblug from August 2003 describes and explains those events.

11allende

On September 14, 1970, a deputy to then-National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger wrote him a memo, classified SECRET/SENSITIVE, arguing against covert operations to block the duly elected Chilean socialist Salvador Allende from assuming the presidency. "What we propose is patently a violation of our own principles and policy tenets," noted Viron Vaky. "If these principles have any meaning, we normally depart from them only to meet the gravest threat to us., e.g. to our survival. Is Allende a mortal threat to the U.S.?" Vaky asked. "It is hard to argue this."

Kissinger ignored this advice. The next day he participated in a now-famous meeting where President Nixon instructed CIA Director Richard Helms to "save Chile" by secretly fomenting a coup to prevent Allende’s inauguration. When those covert operations failed, Kissinger goaded Nixon into instructing the entire national security bureaucracy "on opposing Allende" and destabilizing his government. "Election of Allende as president of Chile poses one of [the] most serious challenges ever faced in this hemisphere," says a newly declassified briefing paper Kissinger gave to Nixon two days after Allende’s inauguration. "Your decision as to what to do may be most historic and difficult foreign affairs decision you will have to make this year…. If all concerned do not understand that you want Allende opposed as strongly as we can, result will be steady draft toward modus vivendi approach."

11kissinger_pinochetHad Washington adopted a "modus vivendi approach," it is possible that Chileans, indeed citizens around the world, would not be solemnly commemorating the thirtieth anniversary of the coup that brought Gen. Augusto Pinochet to power. In the United States, the meaning of this anniversary is, understandably, overshadowed by the shock and tragedy of our own 9/11. But Chile reminds us that the topics of debate on US foreign policy today–pre-emptive strikes, regime change, the arrogance of unilateral intervention, unchecked covert action and secrecy and dishonesty in government–are not new. From the thousands of formerly classified US documents released over the past several years, the picture that emerges strikes some haunting parallels with the news of the day.

Chile, it must be recalled, constitutes a classic example of a pre-emptive strike–a set of operations launched well before Salvador Allende set foot in office. Nixon ordered the CIA on September 15, 1970, to "make the economy scream" and to foment a military move to block Allende from being inaugurated six weeks later, in November; the Chilean leader had yet to formulate or authorize a single policy detrimental to US interests. "What happens over [the] next 6-10 months will have ramifications far beyond US-Ch[ilean] relations," Kissinger predicted in a dire warning to Nixon only forty-eight hours after Allende actually took office. "Will have effect on what happens in rest of LA and developing world; our future position in hemisphere; on larger world picture…even effect our own conception of what our role in the world is."

As in the distorted threat assessment on Iraq, this was sheer speculation–unsupported, indeed contradicted, by US intelligence. In August 1970 CIA, State and Defense Department analysts had determined that "the US has no vital national interests within Chile," and that the world "military balance of power would not be significantly altered" if Allende came to power… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <The Nation>

For many years, the United States has treated the rest of the world, particularly third world nations, as the private reserve of an American economic empire, repeatedly using force, usually covertly, any time a nation had the audacity to suggest that their resources should benefit their own people, not US corporations.  Neither party is blameless, but the majority and most heinous of such actions occurred  during Republican administrations.  In the twentieth century, the United States overthrew more democratically elected governments and installed more dictators than any other nation ever has.  No nation can stand toe-to-toe against the US on the battlefield, so guerilla tactics are the only option available to nations who would oppose us.

We should also remember that there would be no such thing as Al Qaeda, had not Republicans under Reagan financed it’s formation to perform terrorist attacks against the USSR.

I do not hate this country.  I love the USA enough to insist that we actually practice the principles we claim to profess.  These are the lessons we need to learn to prevent future terrorists attacks against the US. If we practice oppression, we guarantee resistance.  If we practice partnership, we will get cooperation.  We need to stop trying to control other countries by force,  To forestall terrorism, we must stop participating in and supporting terrorism ourselves.  We will be seen as hypocrites if we oppose ethnic cleansing by ISIL, but support ethnic cleansing by Zionists.

For the last lesson, let’s return to the story with which I began.  Shortly after the account executive agreed that I was done for the day, the company shut down for the rest of the day too.  Several of us gathered around the TV in the lunch room.  Knowing that I am politically involved, coworkers asked me what I thought was going to happen.  I told them that I thought Bush would use the attack as an excuse to do two things: to invade Iraq and to curtail civil liberates guaranteed under our Constitution.  The last lesson is this.  If we adopt the tactics of evil to oppose evil, we become no different than the evil we oppose.

Even if we do all that, we must still be vigilant.  Sadly there are forces in pseudo-Islam that pursue hatred against America, just as there are forces in pseudo-Christianity that pursue hatred against Muslims, both for their own respective right-wing political agendas.  Both are equally dangerous.

With a few alterations, this is a reworking of my 2011 editorial.

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Aug 262014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow, day 127.  Some of my comments last night were a bit out of kilter, because I fell asleep at the keyboard for two hours, and when I awakened I was not fully functional.  Today was a slow day for news.  Finding material took double the normal time, so I’m writing in the evening, not the morning as usual.  Tomorrow I have a grocery delivery coming in the morning.

Late Update:

I fell asleep at the keyboard again. :-(

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 4:22 (average 4:56).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From The New Yorker: G.O.P. chief Reince Priebus ripped President Obama on Sunday for consuming three meals a day while on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard.

“With international crises boiling over in Iraq, Syria, and Ukraine, it’s unconscionable that the President is having breakfast, lunch, and dinner,” he said…

LOL Andy. I bet the reason Obama does that is to keep people from discovering that he’s black ;-)

From McClatchy DC: One day after losing a major airbase to Islamic extremists, Syria said Monday it was willing to work with other countries to fight terror groups in Syria provided they show respect for the Syrian regime and operate only with its permission.

At least one third of Syrian territory is said to be in the hands of the radical Islamic State, and the loss of Tabqa airbase Sunday put the entire east Syrian province of Raqqa in the militant’s hands, a severe setback for the regime of President Bashar Assad.

Walid Al Moallem, the Syrian Deputy Prime Minister, told reporters that Syria is willing to cooperate with other countries “as long as this cooperation is approached in a serious manner, without double standards” and does not “weaken Syria.”

Effectively Syria is asking the US to partner with the brutal Assad regime, that employed chemical WMD against their own people, against ISIS, that murdered thousands. McConJob, Lindsey Poo and other Republicans have berated Obama for taking an active role in only Iraq, but not in Syria. This article illustrates the Syrian dilemma. We have no viable ally in Syria. It’s like being asked to side with either Neocons or Baggers.

From The Nation: When Gogebic Taconite LLC began moving in November 2010—the same month Scott Walker was elected governor of Wisconsin—to develop an open-pit iron mine in one of the most environmentally sensitive regions of northern Wisconsin, the Florida-based mining firm got a lot of pushback. Residents of the region objected, along with Native American tribes. So, too, did citizens from across Wisconsin, a state that has long treasured the wild beauty of the Penokee Range. Environmental and conservation groups voiced their concerns, as did local and state officials from across the political spectrum.

The outcry heightened as Gogebic Taconite and its allies promoted a radical rewrite of existing mining regulations in order to promote a project that could grow to be four miles long, more than a mile wide and 1,000 feet deep. Democratic and Republican legislators began to ask tough questions. Yet Governor Scott Walker remained “eager to advance a mining bill,” according to Wisconsin media that reported extensively on the governor’s determination to overrule objections to the grand schemes of an out-of-state corporation that newly released documents show secretly steered $700,000 to “independent” efforts to provide political cover for the embattled governor.

I always like seeing more evidence surface that should be used to convict Scott Walker, the Fartfuhrer of Fitzwalkerstan!

Cartoon:

0826Cartoon

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Aug 062014
 

I’ve certainly had no shortage of writing about one Republicans that the Republican Reichsministry of Propaganda, Faux Noise, has praised and interviewed completely, Cliven Bundy.  He has found his way back into the news in an indirect sort of way.  According to a study of law enforcement professionals, Sovereign citizens are the greatest terrorist threat Americans face.

0806SovCitIn a new study conducted by researchers tasked with  studying of the root causes and consequences of terrorism in the U.S. and abroad, the sovereign citizen movement was perceived to be the gravest terrorist threat, rivaling Islamist extremists and militia/patriot groups.

According to National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism —better known as START— sovereign citizens were the top concern of law enforcement, even as a belief that some domestic groups including the KKK, Christian Identity, and neo-Nazis represent less of an actual terrorist threat when compared to a previous study.

The report, complied  by START researchers David Carter, Steven Chermak, Jeremy Carter and Jack Drew,  is drawn from surveys with  more than 364 officers representing 175 state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies. Those surveys  asked respondents to to gauge their perception on the threat of terrorism, the nature of information-sharing, and their belief as to whether their agencies are prepared to deal with terrorist attacks… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Raw Story>

Ed Schultz covered this story in two segments. In the first he discussed the upshot and blowback of Republican hero, Cliven Bundy, including how a Bundy follower, Jared Miller, murdered three people.

In the second Ed interviews SPLC expert Ryan Lenz and Nevada journalist John Ralston.

US Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) called these people patriots, so any attempt to deny the connection between them and the Republican Party is a lie.

I have been saying for years that Al Dubya is a greater threat to America than Al Qaeda ever was.  I was right.

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