Wednesday, September 24, 2014

War Again: Could Lead to Uptick in Domestic Terrorism

Cartoon with a lot of truth...
(hard to face, but real)

Anti-government Reason Then 
(nowadays purely anti-U.S.)

I've been working on this for some time ... so bear with me (hope it's not too dry). It is very important subject and very timely.

Background: American intelligence officials have said the number of Americans who have joined rebel groups in Syria — not just ISIS, but others — had nearly doubled since January 2014. The officials believe that more than 100 Americans have fought alongside groups, including those who have died while fighting, since the civil war began there three years ago.

Various American agencies have specifically identified Americans fighting for ISIS based on (1) intelligence gathered from travel records, (2) family members, (3) intercepted electronic communications, (4) social media postings, and (5) surveillance of Americans overseas – that is those who had expressed interest in going to Syria beforehand.

Additionally, many more Europeans have joined the fight in Syria against the regime of Bashar al-Assad. By some estimates, more than 1,000 are in that category.

The British government has identified about 500 of its UK citizens who have gone to Syria. Just as troubling is that about half of that number have returned to Britain. A small number have died on the battlefield as well, officials have said.

Yes, this theme is troubling on many levels and for obvious reasons and questions: (1) do these “fighters” after they return home have their eyes on, or worse, plans of action to do harm here at home, or in other friendly Western countries (e.g., London, Paris, Rome, el al), (2) how prepared are they to carry out any attacks, and more-importantly, (3) are they, or can they be successfully monitored over a long period of time to ensure that they are not up to anything bad, or if they are up to no good, (4) how can such attacks be prevented well in advance?

Let’s face, domestic terrorism is a huge growing problem; not just by these numbers returning from Syria and elsewhere, but the old-fashioned “home-grown” ones already here spouting up all the time in small numbers – with God knows what they have in mind.

Related to this topic from the NY Times (here in 2011), and this flashback to 1985 (when it was not growing). Then bingo: 1995 in OK City when three men, Timothy McVeigh, aided by Terry Nichols and Michael Fortier blew up the Federal building killing 168 and injuring 500. Three men – now imagine scattered around the country, similar to the 19 hijackers who were receiving their flight training before 9/11 – kinda takes your breath away, doesn’t it?

Domestic terrorism (from the FBI files here and from the Rand Corporation here) is real and it’s in our face. Keep in mind, it does not take many people to do great harm. If they are well-financed, well-armed, have a good plan, and execute that plan with subtle skill and surprise, then even small numbers can do great harm. Related to this are “hate groups” spread across the U.S. – this too is a major concern.

How to combat this, or better yet, how to prevent it or greatly reduce the chances for domestic terrorism here at home in the first place? Terrorism has been around forever – it can never be stopped, but it can greatly be prevented, and that is the work of good counter-intelligence agencies and the support everyone of us can give them. 

As they say “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” (or in the case of preventing an act of domestic terrorism is to prevent a heart full of pain).

This is topic with extensive links and data – check them out by a simple “domestic terror” searching. Good luck and thanks for stopping by.  

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Back at War: Obama Hits ISIS-ISIL in Syria With Allies, Without Congress

Picture at This Early Stage of Campaign
(Note the five U.S. partners in the fight)

Precise Targets Hit

Excellent run down and debate here from The ED SHOW (MSNBC):

The beginning of what President Obama himself labeled as an effort that "It will take time" and insisting this is not our fight alone ... 

Funny or sadly, in an ironic sort of way, wars always take time (usually easy to get into, but a bugaboo to get out of; not even counting the human cost. 

This will take years and it will cross party lines for decades in Congress and around the globe. We are all again on high alert. 

This is also the rally call that ISIS-ISIL needs and has expected, I believe, to grow and possibly get stronger with their simple message: "See we told you so. The United States is involved now and it proves that they truly hate Muslims and Islam. Praise Allah!!!!."

Stay tuned ... this is just getting started. Believe me when I say it will get far worse and more costly — that is given.

Stop back later.

Re-brand, Re-name the Same Old Crap: Becomes Easy to BS the Public

Originally named: Blackwater

Renamed: Xe 
(after all the crap in Iraq)

Renamed once again: Academi
(helps keep the public confused and off balance)

This is how you try to hoodwink or BS the public, lesson 101: Keep renaming your product or same old stinky pile of dog shit by calling it anything except the same old stinky pile of dog shit. Eventually it will catch.

We have seen BLACKWATER renamed to XE and renamed again – hell it even sounds professional and kind of academic, too, and they even try to appear to be the smartest guys on the block (bullying aside that is).

Tidbits and tons of BS:

Erik Prince, co-founder of the controversial private security contractor Blackwater, later rename to Xe and now renamed again to Academi, claims that the organization could have successfully combated militant group Islamic State if the Obama administration had not “crushed my old business.”

Prince said in front of the conservative group Maverick PAC that his infamous private military firm – synonymous with the contracting bonanza that ensued after the invasion of Iraq in 2003 — would have effectively fought Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL), allowing the U.S. to hold back our military in its offensive against the group’s strongholds in Iraq and Syria.

He said in part: “It’s a shame the Obama administration crushed my old business, because as a private organization, we could’ve solved the boots-on-the-ground issue, we could have had contracts from people that want to go there as contractors; you don’t have the argument of US active duty going back in there. They could have gone in there and done it, and be done, and not have a long, protracted political mess that I predict will ensue.”

Two related links here and here:

One word comes to mind when describing Prince and his brand of utter nonsense and insanity: megalomaniac.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Middle East Turmoil: U.S. to the Rescue (Again) — Hang on Tight

Always Cut the Red Wire. Wait, or the Green. Damn, maybe the Yellow...
(From Lesson Plan: How to disarm the ME)

Let's Ask An Expert, Shall We???
(About U.S. trying it again)

The U.S. has already resumed bombing campaign across Northern Iraq, with an eye now to Northern Syria. First, let's review the Syrian mess:

In January 2011, following the Arab Spring where protests against ruling regimes erupted in a number of Middle East countries, protesters in Syria came out demanding that President Bashar al-Assad and his government step down. In response, Assad sent in troops with some cities and regions being besieged for weeks and months.

Both pro and anti-government protest gatherings have at times been large.  Criticism of Syria’s crackdown has been quite widespread. The Arab League has responded by suspending Syria’s membership. Syria claims that it is fighting an insurgency that is terrorist-driven by nature and claimed al-Qaeda is involved. It has not been possible to verify that claim so many see it as a cynical excuse.

The ruling regime is a sect of Shia, so has support from Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah. The opposition is largely Sunni, thus receiving support from other Middle East countries, such as Saudi Arabia and others. Ten of thousands have been killed and displaced (like into Turkey and northern Iraq) — both civilians and armed combatants. Some have been asking the West for a military intervention like there was in Libya, but the U.S. in particular is not keen on another military intervention even though they have been openly hostile and critical of the Syrian ruling regime for many years.

China and Russia also have close ties with Syria and to date have not been keen on any action condemning Syria and have even vetoed some actions. Some papers have reported Iran and others helping Syria with weapons, while others also mentioned the opposition being armed by the West.

And, so here we are today: the U.S. is eyeing a campaign (at least bombing) in Syria in and to find, locate and destroy ISIS/ISIL who is so bad that even al-Qaeda kicked them. The rest as they say is history in the making.

Our Congress voted to allow President Obama to take action, just short of actually declaring war – against who would be the question… but another war resolution, or clarification of any existing war resolutions are in the works, but only after the midterm elections … I guess war is on hold pending a vote for a new of sustained same Congress, right? Sure seems so. So, who will run against any new action and who will not? Will that make any difference at the ballot box? We are about to find out.

It always comes down to the “why (get and stop ISIS/ISIL)” and then the “how (U.S. basically alone with a token coalition of ME countries, or the U.S. supporting them for the heavy lifting?”

Most of the public is reluctant to get any major combat unit (the so-called boots on the ground) reengaged in Iraq and a hearty Hell no, not in Syria. But, events may dramatically alter that mindset for you see when war starts at any pace or level, it has a tendency to do its own thing in all sorts of directions.  

It is insane to reengage in Iraq with major units? Let’s ask Einstein shall we?  If not totally insane, then it's damn close. 

Stop back later. We are just getting started.

Friday, September 19, 2014

GOP Tried and Untrue Stale Tactics Vis-a-Vis Mr. Obama

On A Daily Basis

Punt Comes to Mind

Allow me to state the obvious about GOP tactics vis-à-vis Mr. Obama – does it sound familiar?

1.  Attack him anyway possible 24/7 = harsh, steady, vicious, and relentless.

2.  When that fizzles, or turns out to be false or a completely dead end, what do they do? They withdraw (mostly back to FOX) without so much of a whimper or apology, and then.

3.  They start all over again at step #1, with a new topic (or many cases, the same old topic from months ago, i.e., Benghazi).  

After another predictable stale approach and outcome, what happens? They direct themselves to take two aspirins with a stiff drink, and then right back at it (step #1, and...).

Well, I think you get the picture. Kind of pathetic isn't it (the 24/7 part).

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): Two Faces and One Mind (Need More War)

Sen. Graham Hits the Sunday Talk Shows
(ala 2014)

Sen. Graham during the 8-years in Iraq 
(Under Geo. W. Bush)

On those Sunday Talk Shows (recently):

Says there must be a substantial U.S. component on the ground in Syria in order to defeat ISIS/ISIL all the while he typically blasts President Obama: 

“This idea that we’re never going to have boots on the ground in Syria is fantasy. All this has come home to roost after the last three years of incompetent decisions. It’s delusional in the way they approach this.”

Memo to Sen. Graham and his partner in slime: Make up your frickin’ minds.

Friday, September 12, 2014

War on Women and War on the Poor: GOP Says No — Pay Attention

Remember Him: Russell Pearce

Here is the headline:

AZ GOP vice-chair calls for sterilizing poor women: If you want a baby, get a job

“You put me in charge of Medicaid, the first thing I’d do is get Norplant, birth-control implants, or tubal ligations. Then we’ll test recipients for drugs and alcohol, and if you want to [reproduce] or use drugs or alcohol, then get a job,” Pearce said on his weekly radio show.

Some background information for starters comes from a recent report from the Guttmacher Institute that details the extent of 2011’s war on Women’s Reproductive Rights. That war is worse now and if the GOP gains total control of Congress, well, as they say “Katy, bar the door.”

I assume this is Katy???

Also, from Alternet that lists the 10 worst states in which to be a woman.

Then take your pick from any of these on this list ... 

“Finally this pretty good assessment from here, in part: A warning to the women of America: If Republicans win control of the House and Senate in the midterm elections this fall it will be a powerful victory for the war on women, with consequences that will be severe and long-term. A large majority of women know this. The question is, will they will vote in November?”

The GOP War on Women and the Poor – believe it – it’s real and it's in our collective face.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

GOP on the Sidelines (Wanting it both ways): Hypocrites Par Excellence

Possible New GOP Poll (sure seems like it)

Former GOP Senate Candidate's View of his Party
(as if we didn't already know)

Here's the deal: First, the GOP en masse, blasts Mr. Obama for being weak, indecisive, and well, just in a funk as it were about his CINC duties. 

Now, after he gained support from 9 NATO/EU partners and 21 of the 22 Arab league nations, all willing to pitch in and help fight against ISIS, what do they want to talk about. 

Um ... let's ask Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) shall we. He's back from his 5-week vaca all tan and bronzed up saying just today: “The American people still want to know where are the jobs.” 

Whoa ... hang on there, Mr. Speaker. How about we chalk this up to another GOP WTF moment in a long line of other GOP WTF moments shall we? I mean if you really are an honest broker, which it looks like you are not.

Excellent discussion here from HARDBALL:

Stay tuned and watch Mr. Obama tomorrow night ... then listen to the GOP fall out ... it outta be a hoot. Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Frag Order for SEAL Team-6: New Target, Details to Follow, Prep Time

Al-Qaeda "Leader" Ayman al-Zawahiri (recent video)
(Note: He has some sort of scar on his forehead. It makes a great bulls eye)

Media headlines are starting to splashing around the Globe like this from the UK - Daily Mail:

Waging Jihad against America is (still) primary goal of al-Qaeda with new Indian terror group (AQS)
  • New al-Qaeda wing say their goals include “waging Jihad against America” 
  • Add that they want to establish “Sharia-based governance” in audio speech 
  • Comes after al-Qaeda in India announced their formation earlier in the week
  • Ayman al-Zawahiri said group would fight for an Islamic state in the country
  • He said his group had been preparing for years to set up in the region
  • Some say it's part of an effort to win back media attention from ISIS
 Nuts and bolts (with emphasis on the nuts): 

A new wing of global terror group al Qaeda which has formed in India, could be set to target the United States.  It comes after the group, who have been named al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) released a video earlier this week announcing their formation. Al-Zawahiri says they will “raise the flag of Jihad across the “Indian subcontinent.”

The ISIS flag and now the AQS flag on full display — okay how about this flag or any other sub-TEAM flag of our unique DEVGRU you frickin' a-holes - um, how about that?

We all kinda remember how old bin (your previous "leader) was well... how shall I put this as delicate as possible: dispatched to those 72 Virgins as it were.

Our rally call is simple in that regard:

N E X T * I N * L I N E * P L E A S E (step right up).

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Need World Solution for Bad World Situation: Engage & Defeat ISIS

ISIS Leader and Caliph-in-Waiting: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and their Rally Flag

100% Correct - I Totally Agree

Updated (*based on the NY Post front page above and below from NY Times), which I also agree with:

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman reminded readers recently that ISIS emerged from a context of three civil wars raging in the Arab world, which makes the U.S. response incredibly complicated. He urged caution, writing in part that, “ISIS is awful but it is not a threat to America's homeland.” … continuing he wrote:

I'm all-in on destroying ISIS. It is a sick, destabilizing movement. I support using U.S. air power and special forces to root it out, but only as part of a coalition, where everybody who has a stake in stability there pays their share and where mainstream Sunnis and Shiites take the lead by demonstrating that they hate ISIS more than they hate each other. Otherwise, we'll end up in the middle of a God-awful mess of duplicitous allies and sectarian passions, and nothing good we do will last.”

Who can logically answer this question: “Why is it safe or otherwise appear to be safe in assuming or saying that ISIS fighters — well-armed, with lots of money, U.S. and EU passports in many cases, and having and displaying a thirst for American blood on display with the public execution of the two American journalists: James Foley and Steven Sotloff — won't bring the fight directly to our shores?”

ISIS is not a case or set of circumstances that warrants any kind of containment or deterrence – not one bit. They have to be totally wiped out and off the face of the Earth, and that must be in harmony with an international coalition of like-mined countries focused on that same single goal.

The U.S. can and must set the example and lead. The “how part” is always the toughest part. Just “how” deep should our involvement be? “How” much must we invest compared to the countries in that region where ISIS is in literally operating in their back yard. 

There is a lot the U.S. can do… but shedding more blood like we did in Iraq and continue to shed in Afghanistan – well, that’s very different kind of “why” isn’t it? 

Original post from here: Based on everything I have read, seen, heard, and know about the ISIS movement across Syria and most Iraq and especially the awful gruesome sights of them killing the two American journalists warrants this post:

This latest from al-Baghdadi:  He has vowed to lead the conquest of Rome as he called on Muslims to immigrate to his new land to fight under its banner around the globe. Baghdadi, who holds a PhD in Islamic studies, said Muslims “... were being targeted and killed from China to Indonesia.” He says he speaks as the first Caliph or commander of the Islamic faithful since the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. Now he is calling on Muslims around the globe to rally to his pan-Islamic state.

He says, he believes, he wants – ha. Who cares what this blood-thirsty madman thinks or wants? What lies ahead for that region and peaceful people in the path of ISIS now? Right now no one knows for sure. We wait to see what actions the U.S. will take. Here are a few points I stand by and I hope Washington will discuss. I also hope Congress comes back into session now and ends their 5-week vacation and meets this challenge along side President Obama.

My thinking tracks along these lines. See if you agree or not with the points raised here:

1.  War should not be our first, second, or even third choices. However, war may be necessary in cases where we are up against an ideology or over zealous religious perspective that acts the way we see it acting today – that in short, denies any logical reasoning.

2.  Certainly going to war in cases or in response to attacks such as Pearl Harbor and 9/11 are totally justified.

3.  Fighting against Nazism and Japanese Imperialism in World War II are classic examples which highlight the need for strong, united, direct, and decisive military intervention no matter the cost; no matter the time; and no matter the suffering along the way. 

4.  Not acting in those cases benefit the attackers and their goals and not those of freedom-loving decent people – thus we cannot allow ourselves or our citizens to become slaves or cowards in the face of that kind of thinking.

5.  I do not advocate a hawkish national policy across the board, either. Simply stated: we must be prepared and ready and willing to intervene and act if circumstances require or warrant it.

6.  Identifying and clarifying the threat and circumstances to act must be in harmony with public support. That is key.

What we face today, I strongly believe, with the two recent beheading by ISIS of the two American journalists, who are not combatants in any sense of the word, warrant a strong and swift and decisive military action that is not limited in scope, but one that strives to build a like-minded international coalition of free men to act and react full bore to eradicate the ISIS and the threat they obviously present. 

I see no other way.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

LABOR DAY 2014: Simple Concept, Strong Principle, Way of Life

American Workers Have Made and Continue to Keep America Strong
(Whether Union or Not - Support them All)

REMEMBER: The real idea and concept behind Labor Day, and ever since, with rare exception to support the obvious GOP in office, the GOP, in general, still hates Unions, most public employees, public education, all that Labor stands for. Despite all that political turmoil, American Labor Unions have done far more good than bad for the country and middle class. 

LABOR DAY, WHAT IT MEANS:  Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

LABOR DAY LEGISLATION: Through the years the nation gave increasing emphasis to Labor Day. The first governmental recognition came through municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886. From these, a movement developed to secure state legislation. The first state bill was introduced into the New York legislature, but the first to become law was passed by Oregon on February 21, 1887. During the year four more states — Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York — created the Labor Day holiday by legislative enactment. By the end of the decade Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania had followed suit.

BY 1894: 23 other states had adopted the holiday in honor of workers, and on June 28 of same year, Congress passed an Act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in DC and all American territories.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

More than "Politics as Usual" — Sen. Mitch McConnell: Subversive

Playground Bully Analogy: Give Me Your Lunch Money or I'll Kick Your Ass
(/s/ Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

I'm watching you, and ensuring you are only a 2-term president 

Subversionary (adj): “A person who tends to subvert or advocate subversion in their attempt to overthrow or cause the destruction of an established or legally constituted government.” 

In this case, Sen. McConnell “threatens to purposely shutdown government” thus making it ineffective, uncontrollable, or out of control. Is that why he serves in the Senate; to do bad things and unproductive things and serve the country loyally and honestly? It sure seems like it.

Background: In a dark new political Ad, McConnell's Democratic senate opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes, hits him for signaling confrontation that could spark a government shutdown if he becomes majority leader, and thus does not get his way about running the country. Stated in simple terms.

Click here to see the Ad (about 30 seconds).

Finally, the more I think about the antics and tactics of McConnell and his party ever since President Obama took the oath of office on January 20, 2009 (for his first term) it becomes apparent he and they are more than just playground bullies. 

Indeed, McConnell and most of the GOP border or being un-American as they serve in Congress. 

McConnell stated clearly in an interview with the National Journal on October 23, 2010, in part that: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

So, Mitch old goof ball, how’d 2012 work for you and your party, eh? Now he wants to wreck the government (again) during the last two years of Mr. Obama’s term as he yaps and whines like the little spoiled brat he is. At least it sure seems that way.

Stay tuned.

Friday, August 22, 2014

A Call to Arms Against ISIS for Massive Retaliation and Justice

American Journalist James Foley
(Just before he was executed by ISIS)

ISIS Killing Field
(Typical Scene for Them)

This is the Face of ISIS Militants
(Their call to arms: "Declare Allah the Greatest! Allah is the Greatest!")

Update: More on the face of ISIS militants can be seen here (graphic for some - WARNING).

I have been giving this a lot of thought, as I'm sure you have too since this execution of James Foley hit the airwaves. More details follow on this:

Fighting terrorists and terrorism today: Michael Foley, the brother of James Foley who was just executed by ISIS thugs says the U.S. needs to rethink its policy on paying ransom to hostage-takers.

A very interesting topic, with one serious caveat: It would open up the door for more kidnapping of Americans all around the world where demands for huge amounts of money would be the issue, whether the threat of death was real or not … this would become a larger motivator for kidnappers of all sorts: more funds for more damage.

While it is true that ISIS cannot be contained in total, they should not be bought off, either. FYI: France and Spain paid for the release of their kidnapped journalists just recently - did that stop the kidnapping? Nope.

ISIS and those linked to them in anyway need to be wiped off the face of the Earth. All civilized countries need to unite under one banner with one rally call: "We will work to eradicate ISIS once and for all and we won't stop until they are."

Terrorists will always be with us for the long haul, a fact of life nowadays whether they are in big groups like ISIS or smaller groups like the two Marathon bombers or a few other lone-wolf types we have seen domestically. However, whittling them down is a worthwhile cause and lofty goal, but paying them for their carnage and mayhem related to kidnapping is not. That may sound harsh, but the fallout from that tactic would be to motivate them to kidnap more. That should not be an option.

The best policy we can and should pursue is to work to discover and find them, track and hunt them down, and then kill or capture them before they can strike and carry out their ugliness again. 

Doing these things would be dynamic leadership that the public I think could and would get behind. Further, I hope and believe that a lot of that is going on behind the scenes. Our actions per se, do not necessarily have to be made public each time. For many reasons they should be and must remain covert, under the radar, legal, and not advertised until positive results can be proclaimed to the general public for obvious reasons. 

Original Post from Here: The photo and story about Mr. Foley angered me like the video and worldwide execution of Nick Berg back in May 2004. I don't mean to be explicit or graphic except that I am, I guess. But the brutality of this latest is more sickening than ever and the world needs to react; not just the U.S. with selective bombing and a few PR releases.

This story is graphic about Nick Berg: “A New York City medical examiner watches the video of Nick Berg’s beheading and wishes he’d looked away.” And, in his own words: “Two years after 9/11, the Berg video unearthed emotions I had no desire to feel.”

The killing of Mr. Foley reignites that same emotion and that led me to this post as ask: “Where is the civilized world. Where is the united front against ISIS?”

A new concern (UK connection to the Foley case) is about world travelers with easy access back to the U.S. or UK or other Western country where they can do nasty shït. Security has to be 100% foolproof and travelers need not complain about long lines or security.

Quick Review of ISIS: 

ISIS is a Jihadist group. They are widely regarded as a major terrorist organization. They have self-proclaimed themselves as the founder of some new “Caliphate.” They claim religious authority over all Muslims across the world and aspire to bring much of the Muslim-inhabited regions of the world under its direct political control.

They have been officially designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the USthe UKCanada, AustraliaIndonesia, and Saudi Arabia. They have been described as a terrorist group by the United Nations and Western and Middle Eastern media sources as well.

They were composed of and supported by a variety of Sunni Arab terrorist insurgent groups, including its predecessor, Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) in 2003–2006, which kicked them out for being too radical (figure that one out). ISIS grew significantly as an organization owing to its participation in the Syrian Civil War and the strength of its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. ISIS is known for its extreme interpretation of the Islamic faith and Sharia law, and for its brutal violence, which is directed at Shia Muslims. 

In short: ISIS must be wiped off the face of the Earth and that effort must be worldwide by decent, civilized people and nations coming together. 

I am not one to rush into any war because I have seen it and been part of it up close and personal in Vietnam, twice, but there comes a time in human existence where action it needed to stop the brutality and stop the “Killing Fields” we now see inflicted by ISIS.

What is at stake: How about our very existence as civilized human beings?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

ISIS: Target of Opportunity or Mission Accomplished Ad Infinitum

May 1, 2003: The joy of short-sighted Victory

ISIS: A Return to Ugly Terrorism

ISIS Policy Statement: "Take No Prisoners"

ISIS Gains in Iraq
(On the move from Syria)

Reported from ABC News, in part here:

It's been eight weeks since the militant Islamic force known as ISIS made headlines for seizing the Iraqi city of Mosul and declaring its intention to take over and create an Islamic Caliphate in the territory.

During those weeks, ISIS has seized cities across Iraq and has forced thousands to flee -- including many cities occupied by Kurds in the northern part of the country and Christian villages.

The group, whose initials stand for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, has declared that the caliphate now exists in the parts of Iraq and Syria it controls and is called the Islamic State.


U.S. air strikes against the ISIS have begun.

There may well be good moral and strategic rationales for the president’s action. But there are still serious questions about his legal authority to order it. There are several possible legal justifications for the air strikes. But none can justify more than very limited military action without additional congressional authorization.

The Obama administration has not yet put forward an official legal rationale for its actions. Cornell professor Sarah Kreps predicts that it will probably rely on the president’s inherent powers as commander in chief of the armed forces under Article II of the Constitution.

If it is adopted, this theory will be made vulnerable to all sorts of objections (author made in this post).

The Commander-in-Chief Clause makes the president the highest ranking general and admiral, but does not give him the power to initiate war without congressional authorization.

Finally this segment (from MSNBC - about 14 minutes) shows the predicament the U.S. is in and apt to get deeper back into the "rabbit hole" (using a Matrix analogy) -

The RED pill or BLUE pill 

What's in store for the long term? Short answer: Who knows? Stay tuned. Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

GOP Voter Fraud Menu: Red Herring, Fake Fondue, Carafe of Jim Crow

As they Say: There Ain't No There, There!!!

FACT: From 2000, a detailed study and analysis of voting in the U.S. found that out of 1 billion votes cast in all elections in all states only 31 cases of documented voter ID fraud (impersonation of another person) were actually found. 

Conversely, and flying in the face of the #1 stated GOP standard for all the voter ID laws: "The prevention of voter fraud in very election all across the country all the time." 

Voter ID laws across the country, and mostly in RED states run by the GOP, are designed to stop and prevent voter fraud. Go figure!!!  

Here is a great analysis on this precise subject in short segment by the Loyola Law School professor who conducted the study (about 6 minutes):

So, Mr. and Mrs. Republican, ready for dessert? Today's special: Freshly sliced and chilled Crow.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

We Have Gone Back to the Future and Arrived at the Gates of Hell

Back Then and the Madness Today

“And, ah want them all to be gun nuts, too.”
(/s/ Senator Lindsey "Mint Julep" Graham, R-SC)

Where you going, Mommy?
Off to work sweetie, have a nice day in school
(Note: Cocked and ready to fire - oops)

As I read about the DC open carry approval, I wondered how to piece it all together. Well, I came up with this post, and maybe, just maybe we see a rational, level-headed, and honest broker with common sense in this Judge?

Senior Judge on the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York, Judge Frederick James Scullin, Jr. update on this case:

Judge Scullin ordered the District of Columbia to stop enforcing its restrictions on carrying handguns on the streets of the nation's capital. The decision also forced the District government to allow out-of-state concealed carry and open carry permit holders to wield their weapons within steps of the White House.

Senior District Court Judge Fredrick Scullin Jr., ruling from his regular post in Syracuse, New York, said that the case is a no-brainer. Based on the U.S. Supreme Court's 2008 ruling in DC v. Heller, which validated the individual right to bear arms, Scullin said the city's gun laws were clearly unconstitutional. He sided with the plaintiffs, who argued that while the city passed a law requiring a permit to carry a handgun in public it then refused to grant them to anyone who planned to carry their weapons outside their homes, a move that violated the Second Amendment.

The Heller case, spearheaded by Alan Gura, the same lawyer who won this weekend's ruling, struck down DC's long-standing ban on the ownership of handguns. But in complying with the ruling, the city passed new laws in 2008 that were so restrictive that, the court said, they still prevented virtually anyone from getting a license to carry a handgun outside of their homes. And that, Scullin said, just won't fly.

Thus on July 26, 2014, Judge Scullin struck down the DC ban on carrying handguns outside of a person's home, saying that the ban violated the Second Amendment. He wrote in part that:

“…there is no longer any basis on which this court can conclude that the District of Columbia's total ban on the public carrying of ready-to-use handguns outside the home is constitutional under any level of scrutiny.”

In response to the ruling, the D.C. Metropolitan Police determined that non-residents bearing firearms in the district are subject to the handgun laws of their home jurisdiction; in effect, this makes the District much more permissive of firearms.

Now, on July 29, 2014, however, and in response to a partially unopposed motion filed by the District of Columbia, Judge Scullin issued a 90 day stay of his initial order. The stay will expire on November 28, 2014.

Who is Judge Scullin? On September 12, 1991, he was nominated to the Northern District bench by President George H. W. Bush (he had also served under President Reagan). He was confirmed by the Senate on February 6, 1992. He received his commission on February 10, 1992. He served as Chief Judge of the District from 2000 until 2006, when he assumed senior status. Scullin was also appointed by Chief Justice Rehnquist to the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for a term of seven years running from 2004 until 2011.

As evidence by all the press and PR from the NRA, GOP, gun nuts, and pictures from all over the place with guns strapped on hips and rifles slung over shoulders in so many public places leads me to this conclusion: it's madness, utter madness and only question remains, just because it's a right, why does it mean it has be displayed this way? Then, I recalled the words of my Dad when I was young, and the words from this great man, too.

I leave it at that:

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Are Americans Ambivalent About Government Social Programs

Two Distinct Views of American Values 
(We Are Not a "pick and choose" values system)

Oh, God!! I Can't Bear to Watch Another GOP Vote to Repeal Health Care

More than half of Americans have received benefits from government entitlement programs during their lifetimes, according to a 2012 Pew Research Center study.

The study found that 55% of Americans have been on at least one of the six largest government safety net programs: (1) Unemployment benefits, (2) Social Security, (3) Medicare, (4) Food Stamps (SNAP), (5) Medicaid, and (6) TANF (formerly referred to as Welfare).

When factoring in Veterans' benefits and federal college loans and grants as well, the number rises to 70% of Americans receiving government aid.

Unemployment is the most popular assistance program. About 27% of Americans have received unemployment assistance at some point in their lifetimes. Social Security is a close second, at 26% of Americans.

So, which America do you prefer to live in and what values do you hold dearest? This question assumes that you may have used any one of the programs in the past, or that you might need one of them in the future, or possibly already use one or more of them today. 

Then consider the alternatives we hear so much about from the harsh political yakking about cutting or reducing or worse, eliminating them. That’s reason enough to give anyone pause to think.

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Real "War on Women" vs. GOP Play on Words Stunt "War for Women"

"War for Women, War for Women, War for Women..."
(There is no War on Women, Understand That???)

War on Women
(What war GOP says - ha ha ha ha ha ha)

This update is taken from here.

1. Blocking Access to Contraception:  GOP leaders have puzzling ideas about why women choose to use contraception. Instead of seeing birth control as a medication that helps women protect themselves against sexually transmitted infections, avoid pregnancies they don’t want and can’t afford, and make their own long-term life decisions, Republicans view contraception as a license to have crazy amounts of sex and abuse federal finances to kill unborn children.

(Because God forbid that anyone would want to have sex without the explicit purpose of having a child).

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee caused a mini-firestorm back in January when he first tried to flip the GOP “war on women” rhetoric on its head. At the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting, he told the audience, “If Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control, because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, so be it.”

Rush Limbaugh memorably called health activist Sandra Fluke a “slut” for advocating for contraception coverage. But this misguided, profoundly misogynistic thinking about birth control has real consequences.

The most recent example is the Supreme Court’s devastating ruling in the Hobby Lobby case, which struck down the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act, allowing employers to claim religious exemptions for providing certain contraceptives for their female employees.

Senate Republicans blocked a bill aimed at restoring free contraception for women who get their health insurance from companies with religious objections. Because in a perfect GOP world, employers should be able to regulate female sexuality and access to health care according to their own moral grounds.

2. Demolishing Women’s Right to Choose:  If Republicans hate contraception, don’t even get them started on abortion. But really — don’t. Conservatives (particularly middle-aged male ones) have made more sexist, anti-scientific and plain offensive statements on this topic than any other.

There was the outrageous comment by Missouri Republican senate candidate Todd Akin about how victims of “legitimate rape” very rarely get pregnant and Maine representative Lawrence Lockman’s repugnant suggestion that if abortion is legal, rape should be too. The president of the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion group that hosts boot camps on how politicians should discuss abortion, recently advised Republican leaders to keep their public remarks on the subject as brief as possible. As she told officials at the spring RNC meeting, “Two sentences is really the goal. Then stop talking.” 

Beyond the gaffes and complete disregard for women’s federally-mandated right to decide whether or not they want to bear and raise a child, GOP lawmakers have waged a state-by-state war to eliminate women’s access to the procedure.

From imposing unfeasibly strict regulations on abortion clinics to requiring women to have an ultrasound before they have an abortion, Republican officials have repeatedly made it clear that their beliefs about abortion are more important than those of the women affected by such legislation. In case their tendency to privilege the right of the fetus over that of the woman carrying it wasn’t clear enough, the 2012 GOP party platform has a passage that reads, “We assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed.”

3. Voting Against Equal Pay for Women:  It is the height of irony that the new package proposed by McMorris Rodgers et. al. includes a bill that prevents retaliation against employees who inquire about equal pay. This has been a core part of the Democratic economic agenda since at least last year, when House Democrats unveiled their own agenda called “When Women Succeed, America Succeeds.”

Republicans have consistently voted against fair pay measures, most recently in April when they blocked Democrat’s third attempt in recent years to pass wage equality legislation. The Paycheck Fairness Act would have made it illegal for employers to retaliate against workers who talk about their salaries with their coworkers and required the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to collect pay information from employers.

Conveniently ignoring the persistent wage gap (women earn 77 cents for every dollar that men earn), conservative lawmakers have long argued that such a bill is irrelevant since gender-based discrimination is already illegal. Back in April, Representative Lynn Jenkins (R-Kansas) went so far as to say that this type of legislation is “condescending” towards women. Yet now, it seems, they are changing their tune and adopting a cornerstone of the Democratic economic agenda as their own.

4. Compounding the Burden on Working Moms:  Several other key parts of the bill package are direct rip-offs of Democratic legislation and focus on issues that the GOP has long seen fit to ignore. These include tax credits for childcare and a bill that allows employees to trade overtime pay for paid family leave and sick leave. House Democrats have already proposed these ideas (though they recommended mandatory sick and family leave), as well as paid maternity leave and a wealth of other legislation aimed at accommodating working mothers. Republican leadership has not brought those bills to the floor for a vote.

For a party that is supposedly so interested in family values, the GOP has demonstrated an appalling lack of concern for the difficulties faced by working moms. From eliminating Head Start funding to cutting federal funding for childcare programs, Republicans have repeatedly asserted that women’s access to employment is superseded by family responsibilities.

Always good to review this topic.

Updated (February 18, 2014) from here: Dangerous GOP legislation - Women of America: Are you paying attention??? Title of the fine article review:  10 Dangerous Anti-Abortion Bills that Are Already Gaining Traction this Year.

Update (MSNBC - a 4-minute segment) follows:

Update (January 22, 2014): War on women, and yes, it is a long and on-going war is heating up again. Introduction from the story at Media Matters: If you are a woman, you no longer have the same rights you had 41 years ago.

ABOUT THE STORY: Guess which party heads leads on this “war” (and yes it is a war – deep, focused and intense) on Women?  HINT: The party label does not begin with the letter D.

This past January 22 (anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade) (here is summary at Oyez). The USSC ruled that women have a constitutional right to choose to have an abortion.

But in the intervening decades, that right has largely disappeared, a process helped by media outlets that have misinformed on these safe and legal health procedures. Thanks to Supreme Court rulings that came after Roe, states are now free to regulate and restrict abortion so long as new laws do not impose an "undue burden" on a woman's right to choose (my emphasis).  But state legislatures are currently testing what qualifies as an undue burden, and in 2013 alone 70 different anti-choice restrictions were adopted in 22 states across the U.S. (my emphasis).

In fact, according to the Guttmacher Institute, more abortion restrictions have been enacted in the past three years than in the entire previous decade.  The GOP and those states with the new and more harsh restrictions are on the wrong side of this issue, the wrong side of history, and wrong side of women, let's hope that remains clear this November.

Original Post: 

The above chart and story are from here re: women, poverty, and income inequality.

It makes reference to the annual Shriver report, first issued in 2009 (seen here).

The 2014 report came out recently and it has generated a lot of media coverage. That report is here and it paints a bleak picture of more and more women on the "brink."

A list of half-dozen tidbits:

1.  See 2013 poverty guidelines from FamiliesUSA here.  
2.  From the clip: 2/3 of all minimum wage earners are women (most have families).  
3.  More Stats: 100 million Americans at or near the poverty line; 70% are women; that equates to 42 million women.
6.  Still another GOP view:  The GOP’s War on the War on Poverty

Another good source on this subject comes from the annual Maria Schriver report on Women in America report, which just came out. The findings are bleak. Supplemental link if the downloaded copy is not available when you read this post can be found here from Center for American Progress.

This is a subject worth exploring. Hunger in America should not be an option for anyone and especially for children.