Thursday, April 30, 2015

She Thought It Was A Comedy Show

Judith Miller mistakenly stumbled into a real interview. It was kinda like we stumbled into a fuckin' debacle in Iraq thanks to Judith Miller's fine journalistic skills and the lying warmongers she worked for in the Bush White House.

Wednesday night, Miller sat down with Jon Stewart and he gave a master class in adversarial journalism; something Miller was obviously incapable of in the run-up to the war. Several things are notable about the interview that was so contentious you could feel the studio audience holding their collective breath because comedic schtick was being set aside and the type on interviewing that should happen on “Meet The Press” was happening in real time.

Thank you, Jon Stewart. You will be missed. Judith Miller, please crawl into a hole somewhere. 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Possibly Making Al Franken The Second Best Pol In Minnesota

Thanks to Charles Pierce for the link to this MoJo article on Mark Dayton. Heir to a corporate fortune and a Democrat, how bad is that? I'm just going to link to it because it's kinda long. And it's all so good that it should all be read. Disappointed that it will be his last term as guv there. Happy to see he has Dems to work with in his legislature. Though I know that some think there is no difference.

And then, there is Scott Walker to call bullshit on that idea.

Fuck it, we'll give Al some love, too.

Franken is a fascinating politician. His public profile is practically non-existent, at least by the yappy standards of the cable-news, clickbait era. He is a first-class fundraiser; his work on behalf of Senator Professor Warren was the stuff that dreams are made of, but he never gives you the sense on the stump that he's trading on his celebrity. And, in the Senate, he's gone out of his way to prove himself a workhorse, and not a show-pony, without ever giving the impression that he's overcompensating for having been a next-level comedian for all those years. He is a Minnesota liberal in the tradition of Hubert Humphrey and Paul Wellstone, but both Humphrey and Wellstone were more visible politicians than Franken has been.

Dems equal Reps, blah fuckin' blah. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Post Earth Day Hangover Post

I love the yin and the yang of the daily news. I feel it's important not to feel too much unbridled joy at the positive or untrammeled despair at the negative. Good news first.

Given advances in renewable energy, battery storage, government regulations, and more, there’s plenty of reasons to be optimistic that the world is making progress toward a cleaner energy future. 

Here's a taste of that juicy optimism, for the other four head off to the link.

Clean energy is expanding worldwide, and wind and solar in particular are driving the shift from carbon-intensive fossil fuels to renewable sources. This could be a banner year, particularly in the US.

In 2015, the US will install more renewables than ever before.

OK, here's one more.

A huge amount of energy produced worldwide is wasted through inefficiencies, and over the last decade countries in the developed world and beyond have made great strides toward using energy more wisely.

Eighteen developed countries – including the US, UK, and France – saved more energy through efficiency measures from 2001 and 2011 than China used in 2011.

So, here's the bad news, not that I'm a fan of Tim McGraw. A bigger fan of him than I am of gun nuts, though. 

A social-media firestorm broke out last week at the news that superstar country musician Tim McGraw will be headlining a benefit concert for a nonprofit aimed at protecting children from gun violence.

Proving once again that the road to protecting children from gun violence is paved with criticism from the NRA. 

Gallup Not Aware That Democrats = Republicans

Yes, it's shocking that a "reputable" polling organization like Gallup could make this huge mistake. This is definitely a sampling error of some sort.

Americans' Views on Global Warming, by Party and Ideology

There's also no indication of where Greens stand on the issue. I'm still trying to discover that myself. In other Democrat/Republican hybrid news: Lincoln Chafee is running for president as a Democrat. I'm definitely looking forward to hearing what he has to say. 

Unlike Webb, who ran as an antiwar candidate at a time when Democrats had already turned on Iraq, Chafee was one of only seven Republicans who voted against authorizing the Iraq invasion that Clinton supported. “It just wasn’t evident that Saddam was a threat,” he says, bothered still. “It was all talk. And now we live with the ramifications.”

In fact, despite enormous pressure, Chafee opposed virtually the entire Bush agenda in the Senate, including tax cuts for the wealthy. He is an ardent environmentalist (his father, Sen. John Chafee, was a hero of the movement), and he endorsed Obama twice.

Is it any wonder he's no longer a Republican, unless you are afflicted with Funiciello Syndrome. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Happy Earth Day

In celebrating the day we honor the only planet we have, I'm going to write about our district's Green Party candidate, now and forever, for Congress. Matt's second radio gig is coming up tomorrow. How is he honoring Earth Day? By having as a guest, Robert Schultz. Funiciello purports to be a progressive of some sort, but combined with his statement in The Chronicle interview about "needing guns to protect ourselves from tyranny," getting together with Schultz is a little suspicious. I'm going to need to see some better Green bona fides before I can support him.

Not to give unwanted advice, but first don't take any tax tips, Matt. Secondly, I have to question what kind of guests he's going to get to follow Schultz. I'd think that's not company most folks are gonna want to keep.

Progressives like this, we don't need. Let's see. Zero criticism of Rep. Stefanik or Republicans in general unless you count saying Reps and Dems are equally bad. And now palling around with sovereign citizens.

REAL EARTH DAY NEWS: Lifted from Chas. Pierce, a story of crumbling oil and gas pipelines and the politicians who don't give a fuck. Here, a gift for Matt:

The Democratic party has been feckless and timid on this subject. The Republicans, on the other hand, especially now that the Supreme Court has legitimized influence peddling on a grand scale, have been little more than vandals. That makes a difference, or ought to, anyway. 

AND TBOGG: With reasons to vote Dem.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Please Let The Rest Of Us Know How This Works Out

Yeah, it's gonna be guns everywhere in Texas.

Indeed, lawmakers in some ways spoke up on behalf of a minority of Texas residents who want to see an increase in open-carry. Only one in three Texans want to see open-carry without a permit, and only 45 percent are okay with open-carry with a permit – which is what the legislature finally adopted. In a recent University of Texas survey, only one in 10 Texans wanted to see open carry without a permit, and 25 percent said no one should carry handguns openly in public.

Legislating for the extremists in your state. Yes, I'm sure that's what the founding fathers had in mind. Bless y'all!

I'm going to tack this onto this post because it's gun craziness and connects to Texas via faux candidate for president Ted Cruz. Apparently, Green Eggs and Smarm is on the opposite side of gun issues from the US military.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R) of Texas believes that troops should be able to carry their personal firearms with them on base – a point of view that puts him at odds with a number of top US military officials, including former commanders in America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This doesn't bother him, he says. “The military brass opposes this,” he told Fox News Tuesday. “But I’m a big believer in defending the Second Amendment rights of everyone, including our soldiers.”

Likewise, military brass has at times spoken out against the National Rifle Association, for example, when the organization launched a bid to keep commanders from talking to soldiers about the safety of keeping personal firearms in their homes.

I know the Right is all rah rah on the police and military, but pretty sure the day is coming soon where that will turn around. Obviously, you already have militia folks who see them as the enemy. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Please Nominate Scottie Walker

Courtesy of Charles Pierce comes this link.

A new Marquette Law School Poll finds Gov. Scott Walker’s job approval rating has fallen to 41 percent, with 56 percent of registered voters in Wisconsin saying they disapprove of how he is handling his job as governor. In the previous poll, in October 2014, Walker’s approval among registered voters was 49 percent, with 47 percent disapproving.

To look ahead to a possible 2016 presidential matchup, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leads Walker in Wisconsin, 52 percent to 40 percent.

And how's our current prez looking these days, you may ask.

Obama's overall approval rating is now 47 percent to 46 percent, the first time more approved than disapproved since June 2013. 

More good news from the Marquette poll was that...

In a possible 2016 U.S. Senate race, former Sen. Russ Feingold has the support of 54 percent of registered voter, leading incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson, who has 38 percent.

I'd forgotten that Feingold was coming back to the Senate, at least if that poll is any indication. He will be a welcome re-addition.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

My Big Problem With The Opposition To The Iran Deal

And I owe thanks to Senator Rubio for being the subject of an article pointing it out.

After Rubio reiterated that he’d abandon the Iran deal in favor of new sanctions, Inskeep pointed out that those sanctions wouldn’t really work without support from our allies. Here’s how Rubio responded:

RUBIO: Yes, it wouldn’t be as effective, obviously. We would, ultimately, I think, the Europeans are going to have a test anyway because the Iranians are going to violate the sanctions at some point. They’re going to evade it either by trying to take advantage of loopholes in the deal, or they’ll just flat out evade it because they’ve always had a secret component to their, to their program. And at that point, they’re going to have a huge test on their hands, which is, are they willing to live by the agreement that they even signed on to? But from the United States’ perspective, while we want our allies to join us in this endeavor, and certainly sanctions against Iran would be more effective were they in conjunction with our allies around the world, we have to look out for our own national security concerns.

That’s a departure from his previous position that the unilateral sanctions would be “crushing,” and in that way he’s at least showing a little deference to reality. 

Wouldn't be as effective? They would be non-existent. In addition the five countries joining us in these negotiations, what's to stop Japan, South Korea, India and whoever else that wishes to trade with the evil Persians from doing so. The main people being punished are American farmers and producers who will be restrained from trading with them. 

And here's a link to a WashPo piece pointing out that Scott Walker also over-estimates the power of the US.

SYKES: You have said that you would cancel any Iranian deal the Obama administration makes. Now would you cancel that even if our trading partners did not want to reimpose the sanctions?

WALKERAbsolutely. If I ultimately choose to run, and if I’m honored to be elected by the people of this country, I will pull back on that on January 20, 2017, because the last thing — not just for the region but for this world — we need is a nuclear-armed Iran. It leaves not only problems for Israel, because they want to annihilate Israel, it leaves the problems in the sense that the Saudis, the Jordanians and others are gonna want to have access to their own nuclear weapons…

These are the adults in the responsible party. Making that vote for Hillary look easier and easier. 

Lots O' Good Stuff In The Paper Of Record Today

It's so nice when the spirit of bi-partisanship reigns in the nation's capital. Particularly since the Iran deal is likely to go through anyway. Let's hope.

On Tuesday, senators succeeded in getting the White House to back down on its threat to veto a bill requiring congressional review of an Iran deal. They did it the way that most Americans want them to, by working out a compromise that was acceptable to both political parties and to the president.

More on supporting terrorism in the second link. Not the cock sauce one. 

(T)he bill was made more palatable by shortening the review period and by removing a requirement that the White House periodically certify that Iran is not supporting terrorism (though the administration must regularly certify to Congress that Iran is living up to the terms of an agreement).

I find cock sauce makes everything more palatable. I'll send a case to the House Republicans. And a bottle of bubbly to Senator Cardin who has replaced Senator Dino Menendez.

A key Democrat who’s more White House-friendly. That would be the new ranking member on the Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Benjamin Cardin of Maryland. He stepped into the position after Senator Menendez was indicted April 1 in connection with an alleged bribery scheme.

Menendez has been at odds with the White House over Iran negotiations and Cuba policy. Senator Cardin, by contrast, supports Mr. Obama’s Cuba policy and was not an original co-sponsor of the Corker-Menendez bill.

Here's the promised second link to a story on the GOP's actual agenda. Hint: they don't really care about women and gays in Iran. 

So why, with the prospect of a final deal (which still may not be reached) on the horizon, are so many inclined to shift the goal posts on Iran? It may be because, while fear of Iran's nuclear program is real, it's not the only agenda. Just as important for many players is to contain and weaken the Islamic Republic that has held power since 1979. And if sanctions are lifted, Iran has vast oil reserves, a large population, and a history of cross-border commerce that make it likely to become a stronger regional power. 

Shifting goal posts on this matter are nothing new, nor is the conflation with a desire for regime change with sanctions over the nuclear program. In March 2012 Netanyahu said sanctions weren't having an effect on Iran's nuclear program and complained "the regime strengthened its grip in recent elections, despite the sanctions." Now he says the sanctions have "proven effective" and should remain in place.

Bibi is a terrible flip-flopper. He's really just worried that we will leave him for the Iranians. We are a fickle people. 

The third link is to a good news story made even better by the sadness it seems to cause among the wingnutsia. 

There was no surprise in President Obama’s announcement Tuesday that he will remove Cuba from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Mr. Obama’s decision in December to seek a full normalization of relations with Cuba virtually guaranteed that he would move to rescind a designation that places a number of financial and diplomatic restrictions on US interaction with Cuba.

Biggest sad, maybe, goes to Senator Rubio who is rumored to be a foreign policy whiz kid.

Certainly a lively discussion will ensue, with Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican presidential candidate, promising to move against Cuba's removal. 

I'm sure he can find a reason to leave a country which is not sponsoring terror on the list of state sponsors of terror. It's what Lewis Carroll would have written if he wrote about the US Congress. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

How Did Ron Reagan Deal With The Evil Persians?


I suppose a young pup like Rand Paul might not remember that.

In announcing his candidacy for president, Sen. Rand Paul (R) of Kentucky said: “I believe in applying Reagan’s approach to foreign policy to the Iran issue.”

Huh?  In late 1986, we learned that the Reagan administration had sold arms to Iran and diverted the proceeds to Nicaraguan anticommunist rebels called the Contras. At one point, the national security adviser secretly brought the Iranians a key-shaped chocolate cake to mark the anticipated “opening.” The Iran-Contra affair was a fiasco that humiliated the United States and led to talk that the House might impeach Reagan.

Yeah, it was in all the papers at the time. After it was exposed, I mean. Other Republicans getting history wrong includes Tom "All Godwin All  The Time" Cotton.

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) asserted that the United States could destroy Iran's nuclear infrastructure in a several day bombing campaign.

Well, if that is true, then why should he get lathered over the Iran Nuclear Agreement Framework? 

With the agreement, we have inspectors on the ground, centrifuge limitations in place, and uranium enrichment capped. Without the agreement, we have none of those.
And, with or without the agreement, if Iran cheats, we can destroy their infrastructure with a few days of bombing, according to Cotton.

If Cotton is right, then the risks associated with the Iran Nuclear Deal have largely vanished.

He's not so good on risk assessment either.

Cotton needs to explain how, with the firepower he says we have, the Framework Agreement with Iran is a risk.

Just shut up and cower, that's why.

And yes, you can trust the evil Iranians when they're words fit your talking points.

But in a bizarre twist, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) seemed to endorse the Ayatollah’s credibility over the U.S. Secretary of State’s. “I think you’re going to find out that they had never agreed to the things that John Kerry claimed that they had,” McCain said Friday. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) made similar remarks.

To put it mildly, it was an unexpected development. For months, Republicans insisted, “We can’t trust Iranian leaders.” And yet, on Friday, McCain and Graham suggested rhetoric from Ayatollah Khamenei should be accepted at face value – while arguments from the American White House should not.

The president's response:

“When I hear some, like Senator McCain recently, suggest that our Secretary of State, John Kerry, who served in the United States Senate, a Vietnam veteran, who’s provided exemplary service to this nation, is somehow less trustworthy in the interpretation of what’s in a political agreement than the Supreme Leader of Iran – that’s an indication of the degree to which partisanship has crossed all boundaries. And we’re seeing this again and again. We saw it with the letter by the 47 senators who communicated directly to the Supreme Leader of Iran – the person that they say can’t be trusted at all – warning him not to trust the United States government.

“We have Mitch McConnell trying to tell the world, ‘Oh, don’t have confidence in the U.S. government’s abilities to fulfill any climate change pledge that we might make.’ And now we have a senator suggesting that our Secretary of State is purposely misinterpreting the deal and giving the Supreme Leader of Iran the benefit of the doubt in the interpretations.” 

Dodged a bullet in 2008.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Yemen Strategy?

This post will be my latest attempt to figure out what the hell is happening there, courtesy of the fine reporters at Christian Science Monitor. Right now things don't seem so bad in exile for Mr. Hadi.

From the gilded suites and granite lobby of a luxurious five-star hotel here, the remnants of Yemen’s embattled government sees a daily lineup of Yemeni tribal leaders, Western diplomats, and Saudi military commanders.

Over countless cups of bittersweet coffee and dates, and lobster and seafood dinners, Yemeni ministers calmly toss out phrases like “national dialogue” and “institution building” as they talk up their postwar political plans.

I'm thinking "postwar political plans" might be jumping the gun a bit. The hopes for Hadi seem to rest on putting together a coalition of tribal fighters from Central and Southern Yemen to rise up against the Houthi. There is also the offer of amnesty to those loyal to Saleh who will defect and join the effort to defeat the Houthi. That seems to be less strategy than wishful thinking.

The Houthi-Saleh fighters boast superior firepower due to the fact that Saleh’s supporters include entire military units with fierce allegiances to their political and financial backer. Some of this equipment is a legacy of US military aid to Yemen during Saleh’s rule, which continued under Hadi’s government.

The Houthis control vital military installations outside Sanaa and warehouses of RPGs, tanks, and armor-piercing grenade and rocket launchers.

Given this superior firepower, the Hadi government’s strategy is to overcome the militias with greater manpower and urge tribal and political factions to rise up town by town, village by village against what many Yemenis view as Houthi “invaders”.

Meanwhile, the Saudis, Egyptians, US, Western powers and pretty much everyone else are sending nothing but their best wishes for a good outcome.

However, weary of being dragged into a protracted fight, Riyadh and Cairo have stopped short of committing ground troops to a wider war across Yemen.

The Hadi government has also received little commitment from the US and its Western allies; officials say they left recent talks sessions with Western diplomats “frustrated” and “dismayed.”

In a rewrite of the Aiken Rule, I believe we should probably back the winner (or stay out of it altogether) and declare victory. 

Exiled officials concur that by arming and militarizing Sunni tribes across the country, they may create a “second Libya” where tribal militias roam unchallenged and refuse to answer to a weak central government.

“We do not want to place heavy arms into the hands of tribes and have them act outside the army,” says Transport Minister Badr Mubarak Ba-Salma, who has led talks with tribal representatives.

Yes, we seriously do not want that. 

Into The Looking-Glass

With Charles Pierce as our intrepid guide:

The issue, of course, is Jen's terror of an Iranian nuclear weapon. So what better strategy than to exonerate a guy convicted of lying about a campaign to ruin the career of a CIA operative whose whole job it was to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons to places like Iran. And to do so on the basis of the suddenly razor-sharp memory of Princess Clustering Aspens, now peddling her book.

And I gotta say, I don't like seeing groups of heavily armed folks,  no matter their hue. Or Huey.

On a warm fall day in South Dallas, ten revolutionaries dressed in kaffiyehs and ski masks jog the perimeter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park bellowing "No more pigs in our community!" Military discipline is in full effect as the joggers respond to two former Army Rangers in desert-camo brimmed hats with cries of "Sir, yes, sir!" The Huey P. Newton Gun Club is holding its regular Saturday fitness-training and self-defense class. Men in Che fatigues run with weight bags and roll around on the grass, knife-fighting one another with dull machetes.

Good fuck, I wish those Texans would just hurry up and secede. I'll help 'em pack and even lend them the pickup.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Yemen Bookmark

I'm just linking to this. I can't figure out who we're for or against in Yemen. It varies by the hour.

In June 2006 Gen. John Abizaid, who headed the US Central Command, sat down for a series of meetings with Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his interior minister. What happened in that meeting – Saleh urging the US to help him assassinate a political rival – is useful background to assessing US support today for a Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen.  

Yeah, Saleh is on the side of the Houthis now.

May as well throw this bookmark on, too.

I have read that another reason for the Iraq War was to send a message to other Middle Eastern countries that America has the military might to overthrow their countries and reshape the region.

The opposite occurred. [The Bush administration] demonstrated we were incompetent. 

A Man Can't Give His Address Out To Bad Company

Clay Ashworth is a nasty man from what I read in my morning paper.  Nice company Matt is keeping. Starting to think Greens may be as EVIL as Republicans and Democrats.

A local woman has sued a company that operates local radio stations and its owner, alleging that she was “harassed” and discriminated against because of her gender.

The lawsuit claims she was “subject to disparate treatment because of her gender or sex,” men were treated differently and received perks such as work vehicles and reimbursement for gasoline, mileage and cellphone use that Bailey did not.

Bailey was subjected to retaliation when the work treatment was questioned, according to the lawsuit.

But wait, there's more.

Ashworth also “inserted himself into her personal life” and warned her boyfriend, lawyer Tucker Stanclift, to “stay away from Colleen,” the lawsuit alleges.

Bailey had “nowhere to turn” to report the abuse because Ashworth’s wife is the company’s human resources specialist, according to the lawsuit.

That's right. His wife is the HR person. Pretty sure this Ashworth is an ardent right-winger. The lead-in for Funiciello's show is Dennis Miller, if that's any indication. So, it will basically be an hour of Miller trashing Democrats followed by an hour of Funiciello trashing Democrats. Love the smell of schadenfreude in the morning.

WORD OF THE DAY: Praise be to Charles Pierce and Nero's Neptune for the new word in my vocabulary. Actually, I just never looked it up before.
ShebeenAn unlicensed drinking establishment, especially in Ireland, Scotland, and South Africa. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Et Tu, John Brennan

It's nice to see that Brennan is not the pile of flop sweat that George Tenet was when it comes to taking orders from Republicans.

“I must tell you the individuals who say this deal provides a pathway for Iran to a bomb are being wholly disingenuous, in my view, if they know the facts, understand what’s required for a [nuclear] program,”

So, he's in the same corner as those pinko liberals in the Mossad.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

So, This Is A Question I've Had

And I'm glad to see an article where it's being discussed. What happens if the Republicans get their way and the negotiations with Iran are quashed? Are other countries around the world going to honor our sanctions?

First, it is highly unlikely that even our allies in Europe would join us in further sanctions against Iran in the wake of a nuclear agreement they believe is sensible and positive. That is even truer for other countries—like India, Japan, South Korea and China—that were pulled into the existing sanctions regime quite unwillingly. The support of these countries for the oil sanctions in particular has been critical to the sanctions’ effectiveness. They will not willingly sign up for more.

Second, if a deal falls through, it is likely that the existing multilateral sanctions regime will begin to crumble. As noted, countries like India and South Korea, who don’t feel threatened by an Iran nuclear weapon, will be only too happy to find a pretext to break out of the sanctions—perhaps tentatively at first but in a rush as others do. It will be hard to argue the rationale for sanctions, which, from the perspective of nearly every nation, will have achieved their purpose—bringing Iran to the table to negotiate serious limitations on its nuclear program.

And do we want to deny producers in this country the opportunity to trade in a major market?

And .courtesy of Charles Pierce, I find that the pope is on board with the Munich Agreement 2015:

Pope Francis wants to give peace with Iran a chance. 

Delivering his Easter message from St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Sunday, the pope gave his backing to the nuclear deal reached between Iran, the United States, China, Russia, France, the United  Kingdom and Germany. 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Not Everything You Want To Know About The Civil War In Yemen

I'm sure. But then, it's so much more complicated than:

In coverage of the Yemeni civil war the word "Houthi" is hardly ever mentioned without being preceded by the words "Iran-backed" and "Shiite." 

And this is true. "The Shiite Houthi rebels are backed by Iran" is a true statement.

But the prevalence of this cheap bit of short-hand about a conflict decades in the making does far more to obscure and confuse than it does to enlighten. 

If you do want to know more, avoid Tom Friedman's lazy, clownishness: 

his glib reductions make for palatable reading, they can also lead to enormous error. He wrote:

In fairness, Sisi is trying to dig Egypt out. Nevertheless, Egypt may send troops to defeat the rebels in Yemen. If so, it would be the first case of a country where 25 percent of the population can’t read sending troops to rescue a country where the water comes through the tap 36 hours a month to quell a war where the main issue is the 7th century struggle over who is the rightful heir to the Prophet Muhammad — Shiites or Sunnis.

Pat Lang, a former defense attaché there points out:

Egypt sent troops to Yemen in 1962 to aid the republican side that ended up winning North Yemen and ultimately bringing Saleh – a Zaydi Shiite just like the Houthis – to power. An estimated 25,000 Egyptian troops died. It wasn't about a "7th century struggle over who is the rightful heir" to Muhammad then, just as that's not what it's about now.

As we have done so many times in the past, we backed an asshole to be in control of the government of Yemen. Yes, I know, you're shocked. 

The man handed power over the whole country at reunification, President Ali Abdullah Saleh, was for many decades America's man in Sanaa, and the Saudis came around to his side too.

Saleh does belong to the Zaidi group which, yeah I know, how did we live with him being in charge when he would have been closely linked to the evil Iranians except that:

There does not exist a natural affinity between the Yemeni Zeidis and the 12er [i.e. follower of the 12th imam] Shia of southern Iraq and Iran. The zaidiya follows a system of religious law (sharia) that more closely resembles that of the Hanafi Sunni "school" of law than that of the Shia of Iran or Iraq. The Zaidi scholars profess no allegiance to the 12er Shia scholarship of the Iranian teachers... In short there is little religious connection with Iran. For a Zaydi to "convert" to 12er Shiism is as big and alienating a step as "conversion" to Sunnism. Such a change would normally lead to family, clan and tribal ostracism. - Pat Lang


Yes, he'd been a reliable ally in intelligence sharing and assassinating Al Qaeda members operating in the country – he gave the US drone program a particularly free hand.


No one wanted to get behind the massacres of civilians that probably would have been required for him to hang on to power. 

I guess that's a step in the right direction for American foreign policy. Although, through our usual bungling we have managed to Iraqify the country:

When it comes to Saudi vs. Iranian influence in Yemen, the Sunni monarchy and the US have been far more involved in creating the current mess – and a potential opportunity for Iran – than Tehran could have dreamed of.

Some, like the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today, say that what's happening in Yemen (and Iraq, and Iran) is all down to Iranian "aggression." 

I'm starting to this Trump/Palin feeling every time I see Bibi's name nowadays. But, I'll put up a link for him, too. 

Certainly, I'm all in favor of congressional study and oversight, but that opinion has been tempered rather seriously by the fact that Congress at the moment has demonstrated all the maturity of a toddler with a hand grenade, especially in the area of foreign policy. But, more importantly, this latest episode illustrates something that I think is a serious problem with the way we are governed, and with the way we operate our politics.

The idea that a deal can be struck with Iran, given our spectacularly wrongheaded history with that country, should be something that every American should see as a real cause for optimism. But, in American politics, optimism has been rendered the ultimate in naivete, a sucker's game for people who are not serious.

I'm paying peripheral attention to the Pave The Path For The Iranian Nukes Deal, but I'm warning John Cornyn that if there's anymore of his wingnut shit in my morning paper, it's Hell to pay from Wayne Judge and me. Yeeha! 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

On Climate Change and Nukes to Iran

Good news all around. The way has been cleared to begin shipping nukes to Iran.

 Iran and and six world powers have agreed on the outlines of an understanding that would open the path to a final phase of nuclear negotiations but are in a dispute over how much to make public, officials told The Associated Press Thursday.

The officials spoke outside week-long talks that have busted through a March 31 deadline in an effort to formulate a general statement of what has been accomplished and documents setting down what the sides need to do by the end of June deadline for a deal.

They're not saying much at this point. Trust me, though, they're heating up the asphalt to pave the road for a nuclear Iran. And Al Gore's hard work undermining American industry in favor of Spotted Owls has paid off. 

Despite decades of deforestation and environmental damage, a recent study published in Nature Climate Change found that, lately, the Earth has been getting a bit greener.

The downside, of course, is that the Right will look at this and say there is no need for environmental protections at all anymore.

Thanks to Paul Waldman at WashPo for pointing out that if the agreement with Iran is truly worse than the Munich Agreement then we should begin a war against Iran immediately. Anyone up for that?

 The whole point of the “appeasement” argument is that the enemy cannot be appeased from his expansionist aims, and the only choice is to wage war.

That’s what Iran hawks are arguing: We shouldn't pussyfoot around trying to find a diplomatic solution to this problem when there’s going to be a war no matter what.

Tom Cotton Cares

I saw the movie, "The Imitation Game," recently and was thinking of mentioning it here. I had heard of Alan Turing, but knew nothing about him. I'm going by the movie in all that I write here. He was instrumental in the construction of what was an impressive computer used to break Germany's coded messages during WWII. After the war, he was arrested for homosexual acts and given a choice between imprisonment for 2 years or "chemical castration." He chose the latter and committed suicide subsequently.

It was not until 1967 that homosexuality became decriminalized in England. And it was likely because of caring pols like Tom Cotton.

 Be grateful, gays of America. Instead of being potentially denied services at your local restaurant, you could be living in Iran, where they execute gays.

That warm comparison comes from freshman Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), the defense hawk who set off a firestorm of criticism last month when he authored a letter to the leaders of Iran warning them that any deal struck over its nuclear program could be revoked by future U.S. presidents or members of Congress.  

Yes, Cotton is being hard-ass on the nuclear deal because he cares about homosexuals in Iran. Of course. No statement from Rick Santorum on horse marriage in Indiana yet.

Dusty Dionne, High Priest and High Summoner of the Aquarian Tabernacle Church of Washington State told The Daily Beast that, while he is horrified by the notion of RFRA being used against the LGBT community, he supports RFRA’s power to free Wiccans from religious oppression.

“Many of us believe that love is the law. Though it is not a quote-unquote Wiccan tenet to have polyamorous marriages, it is under Wiccan law that love is the law,” Dionne told The Daily Beast. “Whatever we want to do with marriage we can do. Carte Blanche. If I want to marry a horse, I can marry a horse.”