Friday, July 31, 2015

Kev's Bookshelf

This is just a post I'll add to from time to time (maybe) noting books I've read from the shelves of the Crandall Library and not from my virtual bookshelves which are already over-brimming.

Books I've read and may want to read again because I have a memory like a sieve:

Political Science/History

"When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order"-Martin Jacques

"Amusing Ourselves to Death"-Neil Postman

"Empire of Illusion"-Chris Hedges

"Pity the Billionaire"-Thomas Franks

"The New Hate"-Arthur Goldwag

"King Leopold's Ghost"-Adam Hochschild

"The Icarus Syndrome" - Peter Beinart

"Terrorists at the Table" - Jonathan Powell

Religion

"Religious Literacy:What Every American Needs to Know and Doesn't"-Stephen Prothero

"The Jesus Mysteries"-Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy

"Christianity;The Origins of a Pagan Religion

"Who Wrote the Bible"-Richard Friedman

"I Don't Believe in Atheists" - Chris Hedges

"Young Jesus" - Jean-Pierre Isbouts

Urban Homesteading

"Food Not Lawns"-H.C. Flores

"Heirloom Vegetable Gardening"-Wm. Woys Weaver

"The Urban Homesteader"-Coyne and Knutzen

Gardening

"Beginner's Guide to Growing Heirloom Vegetables"-Marie Iannotti

"Gardening:The Complete Guide"-Miranda Smith

"Grow the Good Life"-Michele Owens

"Resilient Gardener"-Carol Deppe

"Breed Your Own Vegetables"-Ibid

"Small Budget Gardener"-Maureen Gilmer

"plant Propagator's Bible"-Smith

Economics

"The New Good Life"-Rob

Vegetarian Propaganda

"Eating Animals"-Jonathan Foer

Movies

"The Imitation Game"

"The King's Speech"

"Whiplash"

We Want More!

Why can't we Americans be satisfied with having and consuming more than anyone in the world?

 “Sure I’d like a better deal – I’d like a pony, too, but it’s not realistic,” says Jeffrey Lewis, director of nonproliferation studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, Calif. “The most important thing now is to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon in the next 10 to 15 years, and this deal does that.”

Director of Snark, I'd say. What say you, Mr. Dubowitz?

Iran could go ahead and implement its commitments under the deal, he says. It could also “abandon its commitments” and escalate it nuclear program. Or it could try to do both, complying with certain commitments while abandoning others – and thus attempt to divide world powers while advancing its nuclear program.

But under any of those scenarios, Dubowitz says, the US could work to “persuade the Europeans to join the US” in demanding a renegotiation of key parts of the deal.

On a cold day in Hell. 

Yet many regional experts say that prospects for wooing the Europeans to join the US in pressing for a tougher deal, if Congress rejects the one now before it, are dim.

“European and Asian partners would feel frustrated and misled” in the wake of a US rejection of the deal, Jon Alterman, a Middle East expert at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies, told the House Armed Services Committee this week. European allies would likely join countries like China and India in investing in Iran’s energy sector, he added.

“Broadly, the action would create distance between the US and the world and diminish distance between Iran and the world,” Dr. Alterman added, “after more than a decade when the reverse was the case.” 

Or you could just put it that way. 

“We had a ‘better deal’ in Iraq after 1991 [following the Gulf War], there were no restrictions, inspectors could go where they wanted when they wanted, and that deal wasn’t good enough,” says Dr. Lewis, adding that “we still went to war. So really I don’t believe them when they say they just want a ‘better deal’ this time.”

Other doubters of the sincerity of the seekers of a “better deal” say it’s telling to note that the sponsor of the TV ad campaign demanding a better deal is a group called Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran, which is backed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel organization lobbying Congress hard for the deal’s defeat.

You doubt the sincerity of AIPAC? Yeah, me too. 

Couple of Quick Hits From the Middle East

Good news first. This piece from TomDispatch gives a rundown of our conduct toward the state of Iran for the past 60 years or so. And more importantly for me, since I'm pretty familiar with that history, talks about the nuclear accord.

The agreement was reached the old-school way, by sitting down at a table over many months and negotiating. Diplomats consulted experts. Men and women in suits, not in uniform, did most of the talking. The process, perhaps unfamiliar to a post-9/11 generation raised on the machismo of “you're either with us or against us,” is called compromise. It’s an essential part of a skill that is increasingly unfamiliar to Americans: diplomacy. The goal is not to defeat an enemy, find quick fixes, solve every bilateral issue, or even gain the release of the four Americans held in Iran. The goal is to achieve a mutually agreeable resolution to a specific problem. Such deft statecraft demonstrates the sort of foreign policy dexterity American voters have seldom seen exercised since Barack Obama was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize (Cuba being the sole exception).

And what does Congress want to throw away?

Iran, with the fourth-largest proven crude oil reserves and the second-largest natural gas reserves on the planet, is ready to start selling on world markets as soon as sanctions lift. Its young people reportedly yearn for greater engagement with the West. The lifting of sanctions will allow Iranian businesses access to global capital and outside businesses access to starved Iranian commercial markets.

Since November 2014, the Chinese, for example, have already doubled their investment in Iran. European companies, including Shell and Peugeot, are now holding talks with Iranian officials. Apple is contacting Iranian distributors. Germany sent a trade delegation to Tehran. Ads for European cars and luxury goods are starting to reappear in the Iranian capital. Hundreds of billions of dollars worth of foreign technology and expertise will need to be acquired if the country is to update its frayed oil and natural gasinfrastructure. Many of its airliners are decades old and need replacement. Airlines in Dubai are fast adding new Iran routes to meet growing demand. The money will flow. After that, it will be very hard for the war hawks in Washington, Tel Aviv, or Riyadh to put the toothpaste back in the tube, which is why you hear such screaming and grinding of teeth now.

Have I mentioned yet that I don't care what the Saudis and Israelis think about it?

What fundamentally worries the Israelis and the Saudis is that Iran will rejoin the community of nations as a diplomatic and trading partner of the United States, Asia, and Europe. Embarking on a diplomatic offensive in the wake of its nuclear deal, Iranian officials assured fellow Muslim countries in the region that they hoped the accord would pave the way for greater cooperation. American policy in the Persian Gulf, once reliably focused only on its own security and energy needs, may (finally) start to line up with an increasingly multifaceted Eurasian reality. A powerful Iran is indeed a threat to the status quo -- hence the upset in Tel Aviv and Riyadh -- just not a military one. Real power in the twenty-first century, short of total war, rests with money.

The bad news concerns the Israelis.

"There is strong evidence that Israeli forces committed war crimes in their relentless and massive bombardment of residential areas of Rafah in order to foil the capture of Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, displaying a shocking disregard for civilian lives," said Philip Luther, director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

Not exactly claiming the moral high ground against the Iranians. Yes, I realize the Palestinians have been charged with committing war crimes as well.

Free Advice is Worth Every Penny

Matt Funiciello has graciously offered the Democrats some advice in the coming Congressional election. I like to think of him as the local equivalent of Donald Trump who Nate Silver has named the world's biggest troll.

One can only hope that Mr. Derrick will show himself to be far less controlled a candidate than the awkward presence Aaron Woolf often appeared to be. Aaron was not ill-informed or inarticulate but his ridiculously delayed responses often caused him to appear that way. At the very least, he seemed completely shackled by his handlers which is a passionless and submissive place to be and hardly one's best foot forward when trying to win what amounts to a high school popularity contest (this from almost every reporter I spoke with during the race). Not speaking with confidence off the cuff about issues important to your constituents and having to check first with your bosses to find out what you think are huge deficiencies. You can't appear like a genuine candidate if you aren't one. It's starting to appear that Mike Derrick has a similar problem. The Democrats should send start sending us genuine candidates if they expect voters to believe they are actually a party of opposition.

If only the Donald Matt had handlers he might not come across as a gun nut conspiracy theorist. Aaron probably should have talked 9/11 Truther nonsense and Birther Bullshit and opined that we need guns to protect ourselves from tyranny. Since I never get tired of repeating the Green Party position on guns, here goes:

"If you don't feel we need guns to defend ourselves against tyranny, then you're not paying attention."

Ummm, a big steaming helping of wingnut served with a soup├žon of condescension. Yes, if I don't agree with you then I'm an uninformed idiot. If only Aaron Woolf had displayed that sort of "speaking with confidence off the cuff."

Another group in need of advice:

Advice conservatives never give themselves

Thank you, Jen Sorensen. Hope the donation covered the use of your great toon. Great snark should be remunerated.

UPDATED: When I came across this quote it reminded me of something.

 "I don't want to be unreal. I want to be me. I have to be me," Mr. Trump said Sunday in an interview with NBC's "Meet the Press." "We have enough of that in Washington with pollsters telling everybody what to say.”

Oh, yeah.

Not speaking with confidence off the cuff about issues important to your constituents and having to check first with your bosses to find out what you think are huge deficiencies. You can't appear like a genuine candidate if you aren't one. It's starting to appear that Mike Derrick has a similar problem.

Funiciello is the Trump of CD 21. 




Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Today In CSM

Can we at least get the Turks and the Kurds to make peace? I don't know how we ever get peace between a lot of other factions that are fighting if we can't even get the two of them to agree to fight against IS and not each other. This link is for the summary of who hates who and make things nearly as clear as mud.

To sum up: The US is bombing IS to help the Kurds – whom it views as allies – and the government in Baghdad. The US is generally avoiding attacks on the Syrian regime as a lesser of two evils. Turkey, meanwhile, is enthusiastically bombing the Kurds and only reluctantly going after IS, while lusting to set its sets on the government in Damascus. Turkey doesn't trust Baghdad and its burgeoning military relationship with Iran.

The Sunni Arab monarchies in the US coalition also can't stand the Baghdad government, which they view as oppressing the country's Sunni Arab minority, and are far less interested in fighting IS than Assad's government, which they view as an Iranian proxy that is oppressing Syria's Sunni Arab majority. Iran wants to destroy the Islamic State, particularly in Iraq, but the Islamic Republic and its Hezbollah allies from Lebanon also desperately want to shore up the Syrian regime.

The Islamic State wants to slaughter everyone who doesn't agree with them. The Al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, though slightly more restrained than the cartoonishly savage IS fighters, feels likewise. Meanwhile, the trickle of Free Syrian Army fighters the US is training aren't fighting anyone much at all, at least not yet. 

Yes, Turkey is bombing our allies in the fight against IS. And in other news of people doing shit to hurt their own interests, there is the US Congress who can't wrap their minds around the idea that we don't run the world

After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush played down diplomacy in favor of isolation and military action – unilateral American action if necessary – for dealing with rogue states like Iraq and Iran.

The approach never won the broad support of global powers, instead leaving the United States essentially isolated and criticized, rather than supported, as it sought to address the regime of Saddam Hussein. When Mr. Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq in 2003, America was left to largely go it alone.

We did have allies, but they were few and far between. Back to CSM and the fact that the rest of the world is not waiting on our Congress to give its OK to the deal.

Three European powers, Russia, and China – are already moving forward with Iran based on an assumption that the nuclear deal is done and sanctions on Iran will start to be lifted by the fall. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius was in Tehran last week, and European businesses are flooding into Iran to secure a slice of the anticipated boom as the government starts spending in big-ticket projects again.

So the rest of the world is going to be free to trade with the Iranians and the only thing we are left with is the likelihood (especially if we have a Rep president) of going to war with Iran.

The rest of the international community would blame the deal’s failure on the US, Secretary Kerry says. Other powers would lift their sanctions, and Iran, freed from both sanctions and constraints on its nuclear program, would ramp up its uranium enrichment – raising again the specter of military action to halt Iran’s nuclear progress.

But at least we'll always have Israel.

Some Middle East experts worry that rejection of the deal would leave the US and Israel isolated, both in the region and internationally. That is especially true as Gulf Arab states appear to be coming to a consensus of support for the deal – especially in light of the reinforced US strategic support that the Obama administration has been pledging to help counter a deal-emboldened Iran.

America’s isolation in the wake of congressional rejection of the deal would be all the stronger, says Mr. Litwak of the Wilson Center, because it would appear to the rest of the world that the US was turning back to a post-9/11 faith in “regime change” as the only way to deal with rogue states.

Just to end with some "good" news; here's Bernie Sanders on guns. 

Senator Sanders might once have agreed with Perry that taking guns away is not the solution. Coming from a rural state where hunting is common and gun rights have popular support, Sanders has opposed some of Democrats’ gun control measures. But on Sunday he told NBC’s Meet the Press that he supported a nationwide ban on guns other than those used for hunting.

"Nobody should have a gun who has a criminal background, was involved in domestic abuse situations. People should not have guns who are going to hurt other people, who are unstable," Sanders said. "We need to make sure that certain types of guns used to kill people, exclusively, not for hunting, should not be sold in the United States of America."

Now that's a nice strong stance that I can get behind. Yes, you hunters can have guns. From the wingnut perspective, we have Rick Perry. 

Mr. Perry told Jake Tapper Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” the answer to gun violence is not restricting guns, but allowing more people to carry them. If more people had had guns in the Lafayette theater, he said, the gunman would have been stopped before he got the chance to cause so much harm.

Of course, arm everyone. Then instead of the two deaths, plus the gunman, it would have looked like a Shakespearean tragedy with everyone shooting everyone because no one can distinguish good guy from bad guy. The glasses didn't make him any smarter. 

Credit Where It's Due Dept.

I've taken Mark Frost to task for a few things he's written, so it's only right that I give him credit for a comment in the July 16, 2015 Chronicle. This is regarding the agreement with Iran.

Keeping my mind open, but my caution intact. This is likely the best or worst thing the Obama administration will have done.

For Frost, in talking about the prez, this is a full-throated endorsement. Thanks Mark!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Farmed Out Monday Post

Writing today's post will be a Mr. Lucas Dobie of Queensbury, NY. This is his letter to the Post Star from a few days back that I've been meaning to put up.

During the 2014 congressional election, I wondered where this new, young, vibrant candidate came from and how she was thrust into the race as the front-runner?

Astonishingly, scores of more experienced, more qualified local leaders were bypassed. After reading Rep. Elise Stefanik’s comments regarding the Iran nuclear deal in Mr. Maury Thompson’s article, it is clear how she got here as a Washington insider and whom her handlers are: AIPAC and the neocons. To quote the congresswoman: “I agree with (Israeli) Prime Minister Netanyahu that this paves the path toward Iran achieving nuclear weapons capability. It’s bad for Israel. It’s bad for U.S. national security.”

As articulated by former Rep. Cynthia McKinney, all new congress members are required to make an “Israel first pledge” or they will become isolated and defeated in their re-election. It is obvious that Rep. Stefanik is playing this Zionist political game or is an Israel-first politician, rather than a 21st NY District representative.

I strongly encourage the local Democratic organizations to unite with Mr. Funiciello for the 2016 race in a bid to elect a congressman who will work for peace and U.S.-first interests, rather than the hawkish, neocon traditions which have been so devastating over the past 15 years.

Very nice, Lucas. I can't find a lot to disagree except that last paragraph. Not sure why Democrats would unite behind Matt Funiciello since he's made it quite clear that he is not one and has taken every opportunity he gets to trash them. Otherwise, I believe your chances for a date With Elise are about the same as mine.

Further on this topic is a book on Kev's Bookshelf that I have just started reading: Terrorists at the Table. I can tell you from what I've read so far is that many of these people that have negotiated with various factions are some of the bravest souls to have ever walked the planet. That and we are not going to kill our way out of the fight with ISIS. Fight smarter, not harder. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

And Now is Never the Time to Talk About Gun Control

Right, Governor Jindal?

We’re told in the aftermath of these events that politics is in bad taste; that we ought simply to offer prayers to the victims. Such was the reaction of our absentee governor, Bobby Jindal, who reminded us that “Now is the time for prayer, now is the time for healing. As far as the political spectrum, this isn’t the time.” 

OK, for those of us who are agnostic as all fuck, can we talk about gun control?

Now is precisely the time for action – as it always is when mass shootings occur.

Absolutely. 

People don’t need prayers, governor; they need to live without fear of being shot. They need sane gun laws. But we can’t have an honest conversation about guns because the NRA and cowards like Jindal (who opposes restrictions on gun purchases and whose state leads the nation in gun deaths) won’t let us. As Bob Mann noted in the Times-Picayune this morning, after the massacre in Charleston, Jindal attacked Obama for suggesting that a national discussion about guns is needed: “I think it was completely shameful,” Jindal said, “Within 24 hours we’ve got the president trying to score cheap political points.”

Fuck Jindal. He cares more about his relationship with the NRA, than he does about those people shot in that theater or any of the others in our country that have been shot because he's too cowardly to say boo to the merchants of death. 

the Second Amendment protects militias, not the individual’s right to carry a pistol in a supermarket or a theatre. It wasn’t until the NRA bought the Republican Party (Jindal included) and began pushing for a reinterpretation of the amendment that it came to mean something other than it does.

Do click the link in that snippet. 

The fervor with which Americans defend guns feels pathological at this point. In what other developed country are people so obsessed with guns? In what other developed country do you need a pistol in your pocket to feel safe? What is it about America that we can’t get on without being awash with guns? There’s this notion that somehow freedom will be extinguished if we can’t get our hands on a gun. Do the idiots in the Michigan Militia really believe they’re going to beat back the U.S. military should it decide to invade Detroit? This is the stuff of deranged fantasies, believed by culturally isolated Guns & Ammo readers.

It's just to make a bunch of idiots feel safe. This is worth posting again.


I thank God (if He exists) again that I live in King Andrew's realm because we get an A- from the Brady Campaign.

Yes, Republicans Do Want to Kill Medicare

And probably create death panels, as well.

Sure, (Jeb!) uses some weasel words about fulfilling the commitment to people “who’ve already received benefits, are receiving the benefits,” but he apparently didn’t get the other memo that says seniors don’t buy that line when Republicans say it about Social Security, and they aren’t going to buy it when they say it about Medicare.

The idea of telling anyone that the program “must be phased out” for something “new” because they’re not going to have anything is just daft. Even Paul Ryan’s privatization plans never said that he planned to phase out the most popular health care program in America (even though he did plan exactly that). Even more daft is the idea that Bush would say this at a time when the projections for Medicare solvency are, as Kevin Drum said, “spectacular.”


But Jeb didn’t misspeak. He meant it.  He actually doubled down on that claim in New Hampshire yesterday, saying “we have a Medicare program that’s not going to be around 30 years from now in form that is.” Apparently, the last time he looked at the numbers was back when  he was stumping for his brother in 2004. Somebody needs to fill him in on what’s been happening in the last decade.

And he's the smart Bush.


Friday, July 24, 2015

NY 21's Contribution to the Party of No

Yes, Elise will be voting against the Iran agreement.

The Iran nuclear agreement is unacceptable, said U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro.

Stefanik said she has already decided her vote.

“I will vote against,” she said.

Is she representing NY's 21st or the state of Israel?

“I agree with (Israeli) Prime Minister Netanyahu that this paves the path toward Iran achieving nuclear weapons capability,” Stefanik said Tuesday in a telephone interview. “It’s bad for Israel. It’s bad for U.S. national security.”

Israel it is. 

Since I know the congresswoman is likely a lurker here at the Hometown blog, I just want to share the definition of diplomacy with her. She may have been sick the day they covered that at Harvard. 

1
:  the art and practice of conducting negotiations between nations
2
:  skill in handling affairs without arousing hostility.

It could just be that diplomacy is not in the neocon dictionary.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

All Munich All The Time

Oh wait, maybe it's not like Munich.

The comments of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) of South Carolina yesterday were typical. He called President Barack Obama "the Neville Chamberlain of our time."

I'm so tired of Chamberlain and Munich. Maybe Krauthammer has something fresh. 

Conservative pundit Charles Krauthammer has made 1930s Nazi Germany "appeasement" comparisons so often there's hardly space for them all. Some instances include nuclear diplomacy with Iran in 2006, Obama's comments on Russia's war in Georgia in 2009, the Bush administration's initial responses to Saddam Hussein's aggression towards Kuwait in 1990 (A "nightmare out of the 1930s,"he called Saddam), the Clinton administration's handling of North Korea's nuclear program in 1994 (an article called "Peace in our time"), and, of course, the interim deal with Iran in 2013 that led to current agreement – "worst deal since Munich" he said then.

Nope

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Yes, PBR is the preferred beer of North Country music.

Monday, July 20, 2015

"By now it's pretty clear who hates the agreement"

The opening sentence was good enough to steal for a post title. And here's one of them: the representative from the great state of Israel, Bibi.

 "There are many things to be done to stop Iran's aggression and this deal is not one of them," he said on CBS.

Don't believe he mentioned any, but continued sanctions and/or heavy use of bombs comes to mind as probables. 

But what he's been light on is offering realistic alternatives.

I just told you. CSM brings up what I have been continually wondering about.

Even if Israeli pressure can convince enough members of Congress to not only vote against the deal, but provide a veto-proof two-thirds majority, that would leave Israel and the US alone on the issue. The other major parties to the agreement - China, Russia, Germany, France, and the UK - are not only united in support for the deal but are unlikely to come on board for a new sanctions regime as tough if it falls through.

I believe there are 190 countries on the face of the planet, excepting the US and Iran. What happens if a fair number of them decide they don't care about the wishes of our right wing nuts in Congress? Are we going to sanction all of them for trading with Iran?

Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian-Israeli who teaches at the Interdisciplinary Center in Heziliya, has doubts about the agreement, but also sees positives.

"The leaders of Israel have every right to voice their concerns over the current deal. Even the opposition is concerned about it. But the deal’s restrictions on Iran mean that the breakout time needed to make a nuclear weapon has been pushed back to a year. Without the deal it would be two to three month.”

Or take Uzi Even, an Iranian nuclear physicist who worked at the country's Dimona reactor. "The deal was written by nuclear experts and blocks every path I know to the bomb. The Iranians may be celebrating, but they have in fact swallowed a very bitter pill, more so than they would like to let on," he writes. " In simple terms, a violation of the deal will lead to new sanctions on Iran, hence my confusion regarding the staunch resistance inspired by this deal, especially among non-radical elements in Israeli politics."

Thank you.

And yes, Elise Stefanik does not like the deal.  

Jumping on the Bandwagon

I know everyone else has already pointed it out, but I love to be part of the crowd. Donald Trump is the absolute perfect face of the GOP. He's loud, ignorant, xenophobic and, apparently, a chickenhawk to boot.

“Presidential candidate Donald Trump revealed a little-known episode of personal heroism from his youth on Saturday, telling an Iowa audience that he narrowly avoided capture in Vietnam by remaining in the United States for the duration of the war.”

“The Cong were after me,” Trump said, visibly stirred by the memory [Borowitz writes]. “And then, just in the nick of time, I got my deferment.”

Yeah, I know it's Andy Borowitz. But, it coulda happened. 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Lazy Letter Day

Wanted to put this letter up a while back and forgot about it.

“The Donald.” Whether you love or hate him, disagree or agree with him, you really should be asking one very important question about his latest statements including Mexican illegals. Do we still have freedom of speech in this country? Trump should be able to say what he wants without companies and the general public being able to hold him “hostage.” I believe he does have freedom of speech. If you disagree with him? Then that is your right! Change the channel on your TV or your vote.

Seriously, I am wondering if we have lost that freedom too. We have been racing closer to a communistic government ever since the current resident of the White House has been in office. Never before has our nation been led by a dictator. But the last six years have been as close as I ever want to get! This “politically correct” bull is just that and has gotten out of hand, right along with “affirmative action.” I agree that people of any color have every right to equality. But you should not be given special privileges just because of the color of your skin. Nor should people of any race be “rewarded” for breaking the law by being given a free pass to citizenship! What does that say to all the people who worked very hard for many years to gain their citizenship legally?

Another bit of information for you young voters who voted just to be a part of history. Be very careful in the coming election what kind of history you want to create. How many freedoms are you willing to give up? What else do you want “imposed” on you? How is the “Affordable Care Act” going for ya? Stop following “the crowd.” Stand up for your own ideals!


JUDY THOMAS

I thought about writing a letter to agree with her and to urge my 100% support for anyone supporting The Donald. Fortunately I saved my letter for a response to Don Coyote.

 I realize I’m responding to a cartoon coyote here and that should concern me. Anyway, that hostage-taking in 1979 had a backstory. It was blowback. In 1953, the U.S. and Britain overthrew an elected leader in Iran to protect western oil interests. What followed was 26 years of life under a brutal dictator whose thugs (SAVAK) were armed and trained by the CIA. When he was toppled in 1979, to add insult to injury, we gave him asylum. A fair trial followed by hanging, as we encouraged Iraq to do with Saddam Hussein, would have been a better alternative, probably.

Speaking of Hussein, we provided him with intel during the 1980s to better direct the chemical weapons he was lobbing into Iran. So, it’s probably best that we not get into “who killed who first” with them.

The Israelis also seem to have short memories. How soon they forget Cyrus freeing their people from Babylon so they could return to Judah.

You only get two letters a month and I would rather use mine to respond to mindless jingoism.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

I've Already Started

Wanted to put up a bookmark to this article and make a few comments.

 Work is really three things, says Peter Frase, the author of Four Futures, a forthcoming book about how automation will change America: the means by which the economy produces goods, the means by which people earn income, and an activity that lends meaning or purpose to many people’s lives. “We tend to conflate these things,” he told me, “because today we need to pay people to keep the lights on, so to speak. But in a future of abundance, you wouldn’t, and we ought to think about ways to make it easier and better to not be employed.”

Work shorter hours. That's what I say. Jeb! is wrong.

Columbus Idea Foundry

Universal Basic Income

Things I want to get back to.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Connecticut Should Be Proud

God, I wish I had Chris Murphy representing my district.

“Republicans simply don’t acknowledge the legitimacy of diplomacy as a tool of American power,” Senator Chris Murphy, a rising star in the party, tells me. “Democrats have to make a loud, passionate case for diplomacy as part of the way we keep ourselves safe. This is going to be the seminal diplomatic achievement of this administration. It will provide us with our best opportunity to make a case for diplomatic engagement with the rest of the world.”

The opening to Cuba would have been the seminal achievement except this is really big. You go, Chris.

Here's Peter Beinart pointing out what I haven't seen anyone address.

 Even if Congress passes new sanctions, it’s quite likely that the overall economic pressure on Iran will go down, not up. Most major European and Asian countries have closer economic ties to Iran than does the United States, and thus more domestic pressure to resume them. These countries have abided by international sanctions against Iran, to varying degrees, because the Obama administration convinced their leaders that sanctions were a necessary prelude to a diplomatic deal. If U.S. officials reject a deal, Iran’s historic trading partners will not economically injure themselves indefinitely. Sanctions, declared Britain’s ambassador to the United States in May, have already reached “the high-water mark,” noting that “you would probably see more sanctions erosion” if nuclear talks fail. Germany’s ambassador added that, “If diplomacy fails, then the sanctions regime might unravel.”

It's cute that Tom Cotton et al think that the U.S. is the king of the world. But it just ain't so. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

There Is None So Blind As He Who Will Not See

There are some who feel because BBC mistakenly reported the collapse of Tower 7 that it is some kind of evidence for conspiracy. I want to go through some of the "evidence" Tony Cerro and Matt Funiciello reveal on this show. There's so much stuff out there, it's been better debunked by Screw Loose Change on my blog roll.

I'm going to start with the Tower 7 assertions since that seems to be what the Truthers have moved onto. Here's SLC on the thermite questions.


I appreciate the work many have done to debunk all this bullshit. Yes, it is difficult to believe there was confusion on a day like 9/11.

If you have more time.


This covers most of Cerro and Funiciello's "Questioning." Was the NY Fire and Police Departments in on the conspiracy along with the BBC? Don't get your news from Alex Jones and infowars.

How do the anomalies these people point to add up to a consistent theory? Another question begging for answer.

See Mark Loizeaux at 27:45 for a discussion of placing explosive charges in a building for demolition.

At 57:00 Frank Papalia says that the whole conspiracy theory thing shows a lack of respect for friends he's lost as a firefighter. I'm with him absolutely.


The lovely and talented Michael Shermer covers many of the "questions" in this clip. After you watch it, get a copy of "Why People Believe Weird Things" or go to skeptic.com.

I'm officially (I hope) done with 9/11. Fascinating stuff, though. I swear half the internet is devoted to either pro or con 9/11 Truth.

To see what people can bring themselves to believe and then totally ignore all logic and evidence that your wack-a-doodle ideas are wrong is amazing. I started to say wack-a-doodle theories, but there is no all encompassing theory. It's just pick out an anomaly here and there, then say that proves it was an inside job. And, of course, ignore any explanation of the anomaly. And if all else fails, holler CIA loudly.

They also refuse to come right out and say what the implications would be of their "theory" being correct. There would have to be the involvement of at least tens of thousands of people willing to carry this out and then keep quiet about it. And they would all have to be out and out psychopaths. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Warpigs Always Land on Their Feet

Never forget that Reagan was a monster and, apparently, Rubio would like to follow in his footsteps.

In related news, Elliott Abrams is a key advisor on foreign policy to the presidential campaign of Senator Marco Rubio, under whose name was published today an op-ed deploring the president's outreach to Cuba because, according to Rubio, or whoever wrote the piece:

When we make engagement with the odious leaders of these countries our foreign policy, we make a Faustian bargain that is contrary to our national values and also to our strategic interests.

We abandoned Justice in this country long ago. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Loony Libtard Day on the Post Star Letters Page

Al Scoonzarielli and I shared the letters page again today.

I see that protecting the district against the North Korean and Iranian missile threat is one of Rep. Elise Stefanik’s top priorities. Maybe when Jeb takes office he can finish off the axis of evil brother George started on. I recall part of the justification for the Iraq War was that Saddam Hussein was going to hit us with scud missiles, presumably the same ones he couldn’t hit Israel with during the first Gulf War. Another threat possibility raised was that he was going to fly drones here and drop chemical weapons on us. Hats off to the former president for keeping us safe from that.

Considering the cost of the Iraq War, $30 million on this missile defense sounds almost fiscally responsible. Still, I believe if she wants to protect the people of the district, the money could be better spent on railroads, bridges and other infrastructure. Residents of her district might sleep better thinking the oil trains are going to stay on track.


KEVIN ROBBINS

Yeah, that coulda used a couple of re-writes. 

And here's Al:

John Siebrecht, you made my day again. Did the bad man who you so disrespectfully called “Kenny” ruin your little funny page, Johnny? Do you know they’re all online? And they’re shinier! Oooo! And he bemoans the paper’s attempt to turn the letters section from the senseless fire-fights they can devolve into, to a place for reasonable discourse and no, Johnny, “discourse” isn’t a dirty word.

And although he only reads the letters once in awhile, he suspects this change is because the liberals are losing the battle of words. Had he paid attention, he’d know both sides hold their own. But I remind you that this is the guy who bawled out The Post-Star for only reviewing a George Clooney movie and not Mark Wahlberg’s latest. Why? Because Johnny “knows” that The Post-Star is liberal so they won’t review a movie that casts a positive light on the Afghani war. The movie was reviewed two pages in, and it got a much better review than Clooney’s movie.

So why does he hate the new letters policy? Because it’s not as entertaining. For this reason, he’d rather see a nose-to-nose baseball argument that solves nothing rather than having them review the play on video and see exactly what happened. The truth is no fun for Johnny. When the NFL went to instant replay, it must’ve killed him. I criticized Fox News, so he concluded that I live in my basement and watch Fox 24/7. I’ll have him know it’s my parents’ basement. And guess what, Johnny, I went to the fights the other night and a hockey game broke out! Rim shot!

OK. That’s my time and I’m out of here, but I’ll be here all week, folks. Try the veal!

AL SCOONZARIELLI

I really liked, "it's my parent's basement." 

Embracing Bernie and The Donald

I was actually already embracing the idea of both of them running, but this is a nice column on the subject. On the comparison thing that I've noted in a recent Kathleen Parker column and apparently it occurs (not surprisingly) on Fox News.

However wrong it feels, Democrats ought to embrace the juxtaposition of Trump and Sanders for at least two reasons. First, it’s accurate. Both candidates are indeed authentic representations of their party’s base. Trump is a near-perfect distillation of the modern American right: The bravado, the bigotry, the raging idiocy, the false confidence, and the lack of ideas – it’s all there in one gloriously manicured body.

I was recoiling at the comparison. Now. Not so much. 

Bernie Sanders may well represent the “extreme” left of the Democratic Party, but he has real ideas; arguments can be made against them, of course, but the point is that he offers something substantive against which to argue. Unlike Trump, he has an actual platform, spelling out what he wants to do and how he intends to do it. From infrastructural decay to climate change to tax reform to higher education, Sanders is proposing solutions. Conservatives may not like those solutions, but they at least have to be reckoned with. This is a fundamental distinction between Trump and Sanders, one the GOP would prefer to ignore.

This is something that I've noticed.

There are crucial differences between Trump and Sanders, some of which are cited above. But the most important difference here is between the two parties. Trump’s circus act isn’t possible in the Democratic Party. There are no celebrity candidates on the left – and certainly none capable of polling at the level Trump does. Democrats have had their share of bad candidates over the years, but they’re bad for different (and less offensive) reasons than GOP candidates. They’re bad for reasons related to their ideas or campaign platform or something politically relevant.

I do have to disagree with this point though. The Green Party seems to have the same problem

Only in the Republican Party do unserious candidates emerge as contenders. Only in the Republican Party are half-baked celebrities allowed to hijack the process to promote their private careers. Only among conservative Republicans are hucksters like Trump embraced.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Letters I Love

I just gotta put this letter up for posterity. You're welcome, future generations who come to Hometown USA to read this.

America’s new age Supreme Court is on a roll. They’ve trashed the Constitution, empowered themselves to redefine words, re-write and write laws for the United States with such success that now they are emboldened to re-write the laws of God himself. Too bad they forget of the first challenge to God. Lucifer said in his heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God, I will be like the most high. God said, you were perfect in all your ways till iniquity was found in you. I will cast you as profane out of the mountain of God, and I will destroy you. Read the full event, from the beginning in Ezekiel 28:11-19 to the end in Isaiah 14:12-17. It’s a bad day for us and God will not be long to respond.

Now we need to get ready for the real show. The actors are gathering, 14 announced on the Republican stage and four on the Democratic stage, plus the queen. All this while Obama is still in office. Read more in God’s book. God tells of the whole world looking for peace and states they shall find it for a while, false though it is. Now when Mr. Obama pulls off his peace treaty in the Mideast, perhaps the world will appoint Mr. Obama as the new world leader. He already has a huge following. Where will his office be? Why not in the White House. Will this event be the reason for Mr. Obama to declare there is no need for a president and also use his pen and phone to establish the new kingdom seat?

Think on these things. God has warned us. There is time to repent and seek salvation. The end times are upon us even now.

CARL THOMAS

Thank you, Carl Thomas, for that authentic North Country gibberish. Yes, think on these things.

We Are All Socialists Now

Thanks Bernie for bring Vermont-style Socialism to the rest of the nation. Single payer, taxing the rich, gay marrying, tuition-free college and campaign finance reform. It's all good.

Friday, July 3, 2015

We're Number 1!

Yes, the state of New York is the number one anti-patriotic state in the union. We still love us some fireworks, though.

WalletHub took the patriotic pulse of the 50 stars on the stars and stripes by “examining eight key metrics that collectively speak to issues such as military engagement, voting habits and civil education requirements.”

The winner, when all is measured and assessed:? Virginia!


The biggest loser? New York! (Low numbers for voting and military participation for the Empire State!)

I didn't bother reading what the criteria were. Just knowing we are the best is enough for me. I'm off to roast a flag for the holiday.