Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Hatred of Government = Apathy, Cynicism Risk to Our Foundation

                                           Image result for hatred of government
Too Familiar These Days - Why???
(Feel fed up, hopeless, and powerless)

Across American Airwaves - One Culprit

The Problem and the Solution Elude Us - Why???
(The System Protects Itself)

A lot of us since we were young heard and subscribed to the notion that “money is the root of all evil.”  Is it really; not in all cases. A lot of people with a lot of money do great things for mankind, but in politics, not so much so. Except to rake in a ton to run and win a seat in some elected office and then with another ton, stay in office.  Almost all the corruption stories in our history have been directly connected to money and greed of those in office. The list is long, and the Watergate cliché, follow the money still applies whether dating back to the Teapot Dome scandal (1922 bribes involve for land leases) or Iran-Contra (selling arms for hostages) right to the biggie that brought down a President of the United States: Watergate. Money was at the center of most of them along with power and greed.

And, it’s not just politics, e.g., the Madoff ponzi scandal; Enron; Worldcom; Tyco; Freddie Mac; or, AIG just to name a few of the really big ones. And, at the center: big amounts of money.

This article triggered me to post this today from CNBC and the charts there are neat to operate and see the outcome. I once again concluded as I have for years that the common denominator is money. It's not necessarily the idea of people giving money for political campaigns or to candidates. That is expected. But when it leads to crime, corruption, greed and other nasty stuff, well, that’s my focus. Not just the money per se, but the sources and lately the massive amounts as each cycle get worse and sets new records. Sadly most of it comes from only a handful of millionaires and billionaires who are trying to buy the country. No one has or can convince me otherwise of their goal: power and money.

The court rulings like Citizens United v. FEC and McCutcheon v. FEC have spoiled the pool - it's not worth diving in and enjoying the day in the sun. Not when big money owns the pool, water, and Sun.

The question and search I believe is how to change the system and actually make it work as the type of true representative democracy we all say we want? That is the $64,000 dollar question (and no pun intended).

Common sense control on campaign money is the key. And no, I do not believe that money is speech except to a certain degree. However, taken to the extremes that we have seen since 2010 (i.e., with someone like Sheldon Adelson giving $100 million). I guess his next move along side the Koch brothers with their recent pledge of nearly $1 billion for 2016 will shatter previous records while proving it all entitles them to buy and own every dictionary on Earth, and thus guaranteeing that they truly have more speech than anyone else. Power and money.

At least that is the logical conclusion I see when I hear the high court say that “money is speech and there are no limits.”  No limits on actual speech, I totally agree; but a truckload of hundred dollar bills for a House or Senate run? Um …that kind of stinks. No one will ever convince me that at the end of the day that a quid pro quo isn’t waiting in the wings for a “return on their investment." It’s not human nature to give someone a million dollars for an election and not expect something in return at the end of the day. And, please no sound bytes like “it’s only good access.” That is weak. For example, say that Mr. X gives a million dollars, and you can only give a thousand. Then you both call your Senator or Representative. Guess who gets the access? Case closed. 

That's my 2 cents for today. I hope I've make my point.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Velkom to Broken Amerika — Show Us Your Papers or Git Out

We run the country like it was 1773 all over gain
(You don't like it, then git out)

Image result for show me your papers
No funding - so face the wall and spread 'em 
(We work w/o pay, so don't f**k with us... grrrrr....)

The TEA “party” wing of the GOP (i.e., the ultra-harsh conservative hardliners who are angry about anything that is Obama, DEM, or programs they enjoy but claim they're awful for others).

This post is based on this: SUMMARY AS OF H.J. Res 35 (bill to extend DHS funding until March 15). The GOP voted it down ... (vote tally is here): 

CRS summary: This joint resolution amends the Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2015 to extend the continuing FY 2015 appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) at the current annual rate until March 19, 2015, or enactment of DHS appropriations legislation for FY 2015. The joint resolution prevents a shutdown of DHS when funding under current law expires on February 27, 2015.

Their motto is as clear as their protester signs say: “Shut ‘er down.”

Shut down the HSD and thus threaten or weaken safety and security of the country … hey, ISIS and others, you got that? Loose lips – what the hell is that?

These TEA baggers claim to love America more than anyone else. They profess to be loyalists of highest order – just good old boy patriots. Yeah, sure.  Next question.

Two things are pathetic here: (1) they clamor for stronger borders, yet want border security personnel to work and not get paid, and (2) they claim to stand for less government, well, shutting down a huge chunk seems to fit that bill, and they end up looking and sounding like full-fledged lunatics and this is where the GOP “TEA party” types belong - agree or not?



Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Will the USSC Protect the ACA's Insured and Poor or Political Stunts

Especially on the Wrong Side of Healthcare 

obamacare
The Right Side Message for the USSC


This story is worth following since it has a different slant seen here, in part:

Insurance Companies to USSC: Please help protect us from going broke and out of business!!

In an early warning of what will happen if the Supreme Court backs a legal attack on the Affordable Care Act, the American Academy of Actuaries sent a letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Sylvia Burwell on Tuesday asking Burwell’s department to permit insurers to raise premiums if the justices vote to defund much of the law. According to the letter, a decision against Obama-care threatens many insurance companies from  becoming “insolvent,” unless they are able to raise premiums in the wake of such a decision. Needless to say, if an insurer becomes insolvent, that endangers its customers’ ability to pay for their health care.

King v. Burwell is the lawsuit seeking to cut off tax credits that enable many people to pay for health insurance in close to three dozen states. Should this lawsuit succeed, millions of Americans will become uninsured and an estimated 9,800 will die every year.

Actually, Burwell may not even get a day in court since some legal experts say they "have no standing" as discussed here (NY TIMES)... um ... well, alrighty then, stay tuned.

Image result for alrighty then

Sunday, February 22, 2015

ISIS On the "Highway to Heaven" — Who Will Put Up the Roadblocks

ISIS parading around in Libya
Scenes all Too Familiar Around the Globe

In Syria

In  Iraq


ISIS Own Map

I have worked on this for a while for my own edification and hopefully yours, too. I have used a lot of different sources to get to the point of asking: (1) How did the ME get into this mess, and (2) How did the U.S. get in so deep, then got out, and now about to get back in again, and probably much deeper?

I see no need to rehash how or why we went into Afghanistan (revenge for 9-11 to get bin Laden, et al), or the fact we are still there and may even stay longer, if ISIS makes moves there. Also, not necessary to rehash the invasion of Iraq and all that entailed, suffice it to say, it was and remains a mess.

I want to flashback to March 2011, when militants in Libya finally got the courage to overthrow Qaddafi along with the help of NATO and US air strikes that we all saw on the news. The goal was to oust Muammar Qaddafi and it worked – he was captured and killed, but then after praiseworthy speeches (the U.S. included) chaos followed with zero stability that continues until today. Many have called for NATO and the U.S. to come back and finish the job. I tend to agree in part.

So, now more than three years after that French-led NATO military action helped oust Qaddafi, two rival governments are competing for legitimacy, and thus control over the country's oil wealth. Right in the middle of that mess, we see Libya falling apart and guess who steps into fill that void there just as they did in Syria with that other mess? That is right: ISIS.

Everyone in that region says and agrees that Libya is fertile ground for terrorism and all sorts of criminal activities. The U.S. effort in Libya was noteworthy but with poor results even with the praise about the death of Qaddafi, even with his off-and-on again relationship with the West dating back to the name-calling days of President Reagan due to Libyan involvement in nastiness around the globe. He was a bad guy we basically winked at as we have so many others like him over the years. But, it good that Qaddafi is gone. The results, however, are not so hot. It is not what was expected or that anyone wanted, including us in the West. But, that ship has sailed.

At the same time Qaddafi getting ready to meet his maker, the same “Arab Spring” was starting to spring up in Syria – in fact the same month and year (March 2011) and with a similar goal: get rid of al-Assad, which is exactly what ISIS wanted, too. They wanted him out so they could step in, fill the void, get their own country and set up a nasty, narrow-minded religious Caliphate.

So, here we are today with the U.S. smack dab in the middle carrying out air strikes and sending advisers and trainers back into Iraq to help beat back the advances of ISIS to help preserve a fragile Iraq – one that we basically a mess of, and then we bailed out thinking we were leaving it for good and in good hands – we did not and they are not.  

Back to Syria. Washington's policy is the exact opposite: there the main opponent of ISIS is the Syrian government and the Syrian Kurds in their northern enclaves. Both are under attack from ISIS, which has taken about a third of the country, including most of its oil and gas production facilities. Ironically, or pathetically, U.S., Western European, Saudi, and Arab Gulf policy is to overthrow al-Assad, but ironically, that happens to be the same policy of ISIS and other Jihadists there in force and growing. 

If al-Assad in Syria goes, then ISIS will be the beneficiary, since they are either defeating or absorbing the rest of the Syrian armed opposition. There is this pretense in Washington and elsewhere that there exists a “moderate Syrian opposition” being is being helped by the U.S., Qatar, Turkey, and the Saudis. It is, however, weak and getting more so by the day. Soon the new ISIS/Caliphate may stretch from the Iranian border to the Mediterranean and the only force that can possibly stop this from happening is the Syrian army.

The reality of American has been to support Iraq, but not Syria, against ISIS. But one reason that group has been able to grow so strong in Iraq is that it can draw on its resources and fighters in Syria. Not everything that went wrong in Iraq was the fault of former PM Nouri al-Maliki, as has now become the political and media consensus in the West.

Iraqi politicians have said for years that foreign backing for the Sunni revolt in Syria would inevitably destabilize their country as well. That is now well underway.

By continuing contradictory policies in the two countries *Iraq and Syria, the U.S. has ensured that ISIS can reinforce its fighters in Iraq from Syria and vice versa.

So far, Washington has been successful in escaping blame for the rise of ISIS by putting all the blame on the Iraqi government. In fact, it has created a situation in which ISIS can survive and may well flourish.

This is real mess caused by and now owned basically by the West, and there no innocents except the people who suffer from nasty political gamesmanship, whether in the name of our brand of Western democracy (which will not fit there), or the brand those in they region say they want and choose, which is not clearly defined except in most cases in strict religious terms. 

Blaming won’t help stop ISIS, either. They have spread some pretty awful nasty shit that the world has seen. Now lucky for us, Jordan and Egypt are striking back and rightly so, albeit a little late.

The “Arab Spring” was good since the people, and rightly so, sprung up and said “Gaddafi and al-Assad have to go, give us a voice and freedom.” That was a just cause and NATO and U.S. stepped in the help to stop the slaughter, and it worked but  he results are terrible since we abandoned the very people we wanted to see free.

Talking about this mess in Syria and Iraq and Libya and Yemen and God knows where it may spread next, must be stopped… ISIS must be stopped. Massive military force must be used to retake places they now occupy – but along with Jordan, Egypt, the Saudis, Turkey, and others on the right side of justice just step up and step in … the results must be the people’s voice – not ISIS or some other Qaddafi or al-Assad stepping in – the region has long had enough of that.

Details for this piece were extracted from these fine sources:

  1. The BBC here
  2. Mother Jones here
  3. The Africa Report here
  4. The Independent Sentinel here
  5. USA Today: The GOP Anti-Obama Blame Game here
Thanks for stopping — I hope you enjoyed the read. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

ISIS and al-Qaeda ME Terrorist Threat — Different Threat Here at Home

  
Charles and David Koch
(Massive Amount of Money: Real Threat)

Call this post one based on a paradox that says what these two buttons say or it could be the red pill or the blue pill choice we saw in the Matrix – same difference – same analogy:

Image result for paradox   Image result for red pill or blue pill
True or False? I prefer "right and wrong"

Let us not lose sight of the influence of the massive amount of big money in the last several White House and Congressional campaigns, dating back a few years – namely, 2010 to date.

Billions from a handful of billionaires, all with one goal: Own America for their own greedy purpose.

Right up front I say this very factual statement: We Americans for the most part are hypocrites to speak one way about how we cherish our rights, our form of democracy (representative democracy where the people are the voice), and our guaranteed freedoms and liberties, and we turn right around and tolerate or in fact, allow, massive amounts of big money as I said, in the hand of a few to set the agenda, design the course, and try and take us 180 degrees in the opposite direction – the direction they want – and not necessarily the one we want.

TWO “LEADERS” OF THAT PAC (or PACK) are Charles and David Koch – two conservative titans of industry who have infamously used their vast wealth to undermine President Obama and fight legislation they detest, such as the cap-and-trade climate bill, the health care law, the economic stimulus package, or bills they love like the Keystone XL pipeline. 

For years, these two billionaires have made extensive political donations to Republican candidates across the country and have provided millions of dollars to astro turf right-wing organizations and also here.

LATELY and as demonstrated at their most recent retreat in Southern California a few weeks ago, they along with some 450 of their donor-allies announced plans to spend $889 million over the next two years to influence state and federal elections and shape the national discourse.

The money would go to bankrolling political activity, funding think tanks and academic research, and fueling grassroots organizing efforts around the country — all in support of the Kochs' pro-business, free-market-centrist ideology that as I said is for total control of the country as their own.  

Some say, hey, it’s their right – it’s their money and the highest court in the land says they can give all they want. Err .. that’s the point.

A point best stated by former Justice John Paul Stevens in his dissent as the court narrowly passed Citizens United in 2010: “This ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the Nation. The path the Court has taken to reach its outcome will, I fear, do damage to this institution.”   

So, what really happened to We, the People on our way to preserving democracy, the system we all say we cherish. Oops.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Muslims, Christians, and Regular Old American Homegrown Terrorists

All too familiar spreading threat

But not this, right???


I have wanted to write about this topic for a very long time – it reinforces my belief and of this phrase, which is one taught to our own military that states simply: “Know Your Enemy” the ancient saying derived from Sun Tzu's The Art of War.

Idea and Introduction for this post was taken from this very good article (The Atlantic) –check it out and then continue below.

From the NY Times – a fine article, in part: There are many forms of Islamism, from the Taliban to Hamas, from the Muslim Brotherhood to Boko Haram. What they have in common is a capacity to fuse hostility toward the West with hatred for modernity and, seemingly, to provide an alternative to both. Islamists marry political militancy with a conservative social sensibility, a hostility to globalization with the embrace of a global ummah (the worldwide community of Muslim believers). In so doing, they turn the contradictory aspects of their rage against modernity into a strength.  However, Muslims are not the only religious group involved in perpetrating horrors.

From Christian militias in the Central African Republic reportedly eating their foes to Buddhist monks organizing anti-Muslim pogroms in Myanmar, there is cruelty aplenty in the world. Nor are religious believers alone in committing grotesque acts. Yet, critics argue, there appears to be something particularly potent about Islam in fomenting violence, terror and persecution.

These are explosive issues and need addressing carefully. The trouble is that this debate remains trapped between bigotry and fear. For many, the actions of groups like the Islamic State or the Taliban merely provide ammunition to promote anti-Muslim hatred.

Many liberals, on the other hand, prefer to sidestep the issue by suggesting that the Taliban or the Islamic State do not represent “real Islam” — a claim made recently, in so many words, by both President Obama and David Cameron, the prime minister of Britain. Many argue, too, that the actions of such groups are driven by politics, not religion.

Neither claim is credible. A religion is defined not just by its holy texts but also by how believers interpret those texts — that is, by its practices. The ways in which believers act out their faith define that faith. The fact that Islamist extremists practice their religion in a manner abhorrent to liberals does not make that practice less real.

The separation of Church and State: In one of his famous letters, Thomas Jefferson remarked that in matters of religion the maxim of civil government should be reversed and we should rather say, “Divided we stand, united, we fall.”  In this, Jefferson was setting forth with classic terseness an idea that has come to be regarded as essentially American: the separation of Church and State. This idea was not entirely new; it had some precedents in the writings of Spinoza, Locke, and the philosophers of the European Enlightenment. It was in the United States, however, that the principle was first given the force of law and gradually, in the course of two centuries, became a reality. If the idea that religion and politics should be separated is relatively new, dating back a mere three hundred years, the idea that they are distinct dates back almost to the beginnings of Christianity.

Christians are enjoined in their Scriptures to “render ... unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's and unto God the things which are God's.”

While opinions have differed as to the real meaning of this phrase, it has generally been interpreted as legitimizing a situation in which two institutions exist side by side, each with its own laws and chain of authority — one concerned with religion, called the Church, the other concerned with politics, called the State. 

And since they are two, they may be joined or separated, subordinate or independent, and conflicts may arise between them over questions of demarcation and jurisdiction. This formulation of the problems posed by the relations between religion and politics, and the possible solutions to those problems, arise from Christian, not universal, principles and experience. 

There are other religious traditions in which religion and politics are differently perceived, and in which, therefore, the problems and the possible solutions are radically different from those we know in the West. Most of these traditions, despite their often very high level of sophistication and achievement, remained or became local — limited to one region or one culture or one people.

There is one, however, that in its worldwide distribution, its continuing vitality, its universal aspirations, can be compared to Christianity, and that is Islam. 

Islam is one of the world's great religions. Islam has brought comfort and peace of mind to countless millions of men and women. It has given dignity and meaning to drab and impoverished lives. It has taught people of different races to live in brotherhood and people of different creeds to live side by side in reasonable tolerance. It inspired a great civilization in which others besides Muslims lived creative and useful lives and which, by its achievement, enriched the whole world.

But Islam, like other religions, has also known periods when it inspired in some of its followers a mood of hatred and violence. It is our misfortune that part, though by no means all or even most, of the Muslim world is now going through such a period, and that much, though again not all, of that hatred is directed against us – the West and indeed their own, too as we are now seeing with the killing of others whom ISIS says are anti-Islam.

Related topics are (here) and (here): The summit takes place as conservatives criticize Obama for avoiding the term “Islamic extremism.” What if he were to say: “Christian extremism” when another Timothy McVeigh or Eric Rudolph or Scott Roeder or Whitman on Campus in Texas pops up.  

In his Los Angeles Times op-ed, Obama says that groups like the Islamic State -- also known as ISIL -- as well as the Pakistan Taliban, al-Shabaab, and Boko Haram pervert religion with attacks in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, also he wrote in part:

“Groups like al-Qaeda and ISIL promote a twisted interpretation of religion that is rejected by the overwhelming majority of the world's Muslims. The world must continue to lift up the voices of Muslim clerics and scholars who teach the true peaceful nature of Islam.”

Helping empower communities to protect their loved ones from extremist ideologies. The president also says "the world has to offer today's youth something better," including a guarantee of basic human rights.  The U.S. has made significant gains against terrorism by our efforts to decimate al-Qaeda leadership around the globe ever since 9/11. “The threat has evolved with murders of America citizens in places like Benghazi, Fort Hood, and Boston.

I add: It’s not Islam, the religion per se, it’s those who profess to practice it the way they say it should be practiced and the vast majority of those who are Muslims and practice Islam do not hold that view any more than Christians who would advocate for other Christians to kill a theatre full of people in Denver or blow up the Federal building in OK City.

Related to this topic from the Daily Beast here.

Enjoy the visit and research. Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Does the Public Want a History Slouch, Issue Ducker, Reality Avoider

[​IMG]
I Offer  John Ellis Bush (Jeb)
(Won't discuss history if a Bush is involved)

This is a very interesting piece on Mr. Jeb Bush from here with this headline:

On Iraq and Afghanistan Wars: "I Won't Talk About the Past"


So, I wonder would this Mr. Bush be willing to talk about any mistakes or successes in WW I, WW II, Korea, Vietnam, or elsewhere outside of Iraq and Afghanistan? Like any CinC should be prepared to discuss things like (1) how to avoid war, or once engaged (2) how to win effectively?

I seriously wonder.

Of course we should always be focused on the future – everyone knows that, but at the same time, we must never forget the past and work hard to avoid at all costly mistakes of the past. Jeb Bush appears to want to write the past off as if it never existed with these kinds of comments:

He says he isn’t interested in talking about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, especially as it relates to his brother, former President George W. Bush, saying specifically: “I won't talk about the past. I'll talk about the future. If I'm in the process of considering the possibility of running, it's not about re-litigating anything in the past. It's about trying to create a set of ideas and principles that will help us move forward.” Those comments are pretty weak.

He further said that if he decides to run for president in 2016, his campaign would focus on a positive vision of the future rather than focus on the past.

What I see about him with those comments is a man who does not come across as very bright or engaging or knowledgeable – all traits any president must possess in order to lead effectively. In fact if this were the way he would govern when faced with tough question about the past actions of the U.S. (both good and bad), then I foresee serious problems. 

I suggest his “Team” adopt this campaign flyer; it seems to fit him perfectly:

“Jeb vs. History and the Public” 
[​IMG]

Thursday, February 12, 2015

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

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

Original Post Follows this Update (February 12, 2015):

Basic story comes from here with the stark headlines:

GOP secretaries of state raise alarm about non-citizen voting: Experts Agree Its Bogus Issue

Introduction: WASHINGTON – A group of Republican state election officials took their campaign to raise the alarm about an alleged epidemic of non-citizen voting to Washington this week.

At a Beltway conference and in testimony on Capitol Hill, several GOP secretaries of state called for added safeguards to prevent voting by non-citizens, and said President Obama’s executive order on immigration will increase the threat.
                                                                                                                                              
“I’m concerned about it,” Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said in an interview while attending a conference held by the National Association of Secretaries of State and he concluded: “It’s a very real problem of aliens registering to vote.”

Actually, Mr. Kobach, it is not a problem except perhaps in your narrow mind.

Voting by non-citizens is extremely rare, e.g., a 2013 investigation conducted by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s own office found that just 17 non-citizens voted in Ohio in 2012. That’s even though nearly 200,000 non-citizens in the state already have driver’s licenses, and that according to the state’s DMV. This is related to the Jon Husted: Obama immigration order will lead to illegal voting part.

Continue at the main page. The most-pressing and timely and critical issue of our generation: the right to vote.

Original Post Starts Here: 

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. Gee Old Poops: How about dessert? Today's special: Fresh Crow.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

GOP Now B&E Experts Who Travel in Three's in the Dark of Night

A Modern-Day "Watergate" B&E

This Cartoon as They Say: NAILS IT ...

The new Mitt Romney was running and had cast himself as a champion of the poor and the underdog.  He signaled to a group of Republicans in San Diego, just before he later dropped out, that he would run a markedly different campaign should he run for a third time in 2016, saying in part: “I believe in the post-Obama era we need to stand for safety and for opportunity for all people, and we have to stand for helping lift people out of poverty. I’m giving some serious consideration to the future. But this I know - we can win in 2016 ... if we communicate a clear vision of where we’re taking this country.”

Of course he lamented income inequality and the “scourge of poverty” – which as we all recall is a marked shift in emphasis for a tycoon who was secretly recorded in 2012 dismissing the 47% of voters as feckless welfare-seekers who would never vote for him), then he concluded:

“Under President Obama the rich have gotten richer, income inequality has gotten worse and there are more people in poverty in American than ever before.”

Um, think old Mittens felt pressure to drop out because he was sounding more like a DEM than a GOPer? Strong possibility.

However, the word hypocrite comes to mind more so as being apropos just like the cartoon implies … in short: the GOP wants to use DEM issues to win votes, and then shit can them after they win as if those issues never existed except for the nasty, awful, evil, DEM liberal leftists.  

I say: ho hum … and snooze time. (The Real GOP as we all know).

Sunday, February 8, 2015

ISIS Wants War: Give It To Them, Legally, Full Bore, Relentlessly

President Bush Acted and President Obama is Limited 
Congress Sits and Blames


This post a piggyback to the post below (re: The public gawking as ISIS runs wild). 

The main  reason, however that I am posting this is that I am sick and tired and quite frankly annoyed from listening to all the GOP-rightwing Talk Radio and Cable TV chatter, or in print, or the pronouncements on the House and Senate floors about Mr. Obama being weak and indecisive about ISIS. The chatter is nasty, ugly, disrespectful, has strong racist undertones (oh yes, it does), and quite frankly is wholly un-American by any yardstick. So, that disgust triggered me to post this. I hope you enjoy it for what it is – as factual and honest as possible.

BACKGROUND: The 60 Words and a War Without End: The Untold Story of the Most Dangerous Sentence in U.S. History – (see those words here and in the above graph).

Those words were written in the frenzied, emotional days after 9/11, the AUMF: The Authorization for the Use of Military Force – was intended to give President Bush the ability to retaliate against whoever orchestrated the attacks. But more than 12 years later, this sentence remains the primary legal justification for nearly every covert operation around the world.

INTRODUCTION: President Obama has detailed his response to the growing ISIS threat in Iraq and Syria. He outlined limited bombing, arming various rebel groups, and launching aerial Drone attacks against ISIS. However that has also strengthened large legal questions about the legitimacy of going forward without congressional authorization like that which was done in 2001.

FROM THE JANUARY 2015 STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS (SOTU):

“My first duty as Commander-in-Chief is to defend the United States of America. In doing so, the question is not whether America leads in the world, but how. When we make rash decisions, reacting to the headlines instead of using our heads; when the first response to a challenge is to send in our military – then we risk getting drawn into unnecessary conflicts, and neglect the broader strategy we need for a safer, more prosperous world. That’s what our enemies want us to do.”

“I believe in a smarter kind of American leadership. We lead best when we combine military power with strong diplomacy; when we leverage our power with coalition building; when we don’t let our fears blind us to the opportunities that this new century presents. That’s exactly what we’re doing right now – and around the globe, it is making a difference.”

“First, we stand united with people around the world who’ve been targeted by terrorists – from a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris. We will continue to hunt down terrorists and dismantle their networks, and we reserve the right to act unilaterally, as we’ve done relentlessly since I took office to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to us and our allies. At the same time, we’ve learned some costly lessons over the last thirteen years.”  

“Instead of Americans patrolling the valleys of Afghanistan, we’ve trained their security forces, who’ve now taken the lead, and we’ve honored our troops’ sacrifice by supporting that country’s first democratic transition. Instead of sending large ground forces overseas, we’re partnering with nations from South Asia to North Africa to deny safe haven to terrorists who threaten America. In Iraq and Syria, American leadership – including our military power – is stopping ISIL’s advance. Instead of getting dragged into another ground war in the Middle East, we are leading a broad coalition, including Arab nations, to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist group. We’re also supporting a moderate opposition in Syria that can help us in this effort, and assisting people everywhere who stand up to the bankrupt ideology of violent extremism. This effort will take time. It will require focus. But we will succeed.” 

And tonight, I call on this Congress to show the world that we are united in this mission by passing a resolution to authorize the use of force against ISIL.”

Screen Grab When Mr. Obama Made that Request

“That’s how America leads – not with bluster, but with persistent, steady resolve.”  

I totally agree – going to war anytime and anywhere no matter how “limited” it may appear is the most-critical decision any country and will ever make. I reinforce the President’s speech that action must done in unity – that is the legal, official, and democratic way.

Not doing anything beyond what we are doing now against ISIS/ILIL is a decision all by itself. The world waits for the U.S. to act more forcefully. All the while, the Congress doodles while blaming Mr. Obama for doing nothing. He is doing all he legally can right now – Congress is not.  

What is the GOP’s plan for ISIS/ISIL? Sitting on one’s hands is not a plan. Blaming others for your own inaction is not a strategy. Doing nothing is not a plan. The GOP calls Mr. Obama indecisive and weak as well as a ton of other flat out political lies – they are wrong. He asked Congress for an updated authorization to engage ISIS/ISIL and they accuse him of dragging his feet as they sit on their hands.

That is not the message the public needs to hear over and over and then reinforce the GOP line as if that’s policy or even right. It is not. The GOP has a very effective PR machine that blames Obama for everything while they do nothing. That is the point – and the only point. They claim to be strong, decisive, patriotic, ready for war anywhere, anytime – then damnit, show us who you are – the way the Constitution says – yeah, the same document the GOP waves in our face when they want what they want and not necessarily what we need.

Now they are not following their own advice and supposed principled “leadership.” Mr. Obama asked for a new AUMF against ISIS/ISIL – either give it to him and get behind him and it or shut up and stop blaming others for you own shortfall.

Related: The current AUMF got us into Afghanistan and then into Iraq. But, it is considered by many legal scholars to be in serious need of a reboot (from the link above, too) – a must read.

The original AUMF aim was justified and correct and legal, but has since been stretched to the legal limits, and as they say: “Here we are again at the same crossroads facing the same decisions as Congress blames and remains inactive in the process they say they worship – show us.”

Pick any cliché or sound byte you chose: “It’s performance that counts; we need action, not words; and getting positive results, not political grandstanding matters most, etc.” It’s up this Congress. As they say, piss of get off the pot. Congress cannot tell others how to lead when they are not themselves.

Thanks for stopping by - leave a note it you like. Come again.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Pictures Worth a Lot Minus Rational Logic: People Stand and Gawk

A picture is worth a thousand words
Logical Meaning

Picture When Nazis Entered a City: People Stand and Gawk

Picture When ISIS Enters a City: People Stand and Gawk 


In the two photos above we see people standing and watching with a sense of helplessness. Likewise in both cases, then and today, both scenes are just as bad as results have shown. That is what the Nazis relied on in WWII and that is what ISIS relies on today: Fear and death wherever they operate.

The time for standing and gawking is over, so a bit of good news here at home with this headline story from MSNBC and the ongoing military action by Jordan as they seek revenge for the horrible death of their pilot, Moaz al-Kasasbeh, who was being held by ISIS.

Feds charge 6 with terrorism-related crimes involving ISIS links

Six people are facing terrorism-related charges involving links to ISIS, according to a federal indictment unsealed Friday (February 6, 2015). Federal prosecutors said a St. Louis man went to join the terror network in 2013, and is believed to have died.

The six defendants were charged with conspiracy and providing material support to that man. All are natives of Bosnia, and five of them immigrated to the United States and were arrested as part of a federal sting. The sixth suspect remains overseas.

This article originally appeared at NBC News.com and it has more specific information on the defendants.

So, overall, good job up to this point, however, other reports say several hundred “Westerners” are in Syria and other places on passports that would enable them to enter the U.S. very freely. Let’s hope our networks wherever they are and by whatever name or label are able to ID and snag them before they enter U.S. territory. Let’s fact it, it only takes a few to do great damage (i.e., McVeigh/Nichols in Oklahoma (April 1995), or the 19 hijackers on 911).

Thus, the operative words are be prepared and stay vigilant, and do whatever it takes re: manpower, money, and equipment to prevent any homeland attacks.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

GOP (Jeb Bush, et al): "We Stand for Middle Class" — Show Us Facts

GOP Might Outta Hang On To This
(proof, pudding thingy comes to mind)

Proof 
58 Straight Months of Growth
(that translates into 11 million jobs)

More Proof
Best Since the Near Meltdown in 2008


President Obama faced real economic gloom and doom when he took office on January 20, 2009. The following month he signed into law the economic stimulus bill, we have been improving ever since. But, try and find a GOP member of Congress (in office now or previously in office) to admit that Obama policies are in fact, working. Good luck with that search.

Below is an excellent run down on all this and explained far better than I can explain here ... I do know record and I do support the efforts thus far. Sadly, can't say that for the GOP.

Now as we move towards 2016, they are acting and sounding like Democrats about wanting to fight poverty, help the middle class, stand with the working class, et al – etc., etc., yap, yap. You heard Romney before he dropped out say that and now Jeb Bush (possibly the GOP front runner) is saying that, too. Kind of a copy of his brother Dubya when he announced in 1999 that he was “a compassionate conservative” - I suppose to lessen the blow of being harsh after the fact.

Now we see and hear a lot of fancy words and promises, but there is nothing new about that, except it’s the GOP saying it. So, at this point, I feel at east to use an old military term: The GOP has been collectively AWOL – not quite full blown desertion, but very darn close.


Enjoy the segment here (about 18 minutes):




Thanks for stopping by - come again.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Despite the GOP Negative Efforts, the U.S. Economy is Bouncing Back

Happy Days Are (sort of) Here Again

Maybe Not This Good
(but darn good nevertheless)


My take derived from several sources, and besides, it's my Blog, too (smile):

Here are several key parts I take away from this from Bloomberg.

•  Company profits, and their shares, are been sideswiped by tumbling energy prices, a strengthening dollar, and rising labor costs.

•  At the same time, those factors are lifting consumer spirits as they pay less for gasoline at the pump and for imported suits at the mall while reaping the benefits of a tighter jobs market.

•  Even big banks like JP Morgan-Chase say that on “balance it means positive growth.”

•  American households are taking a breather after a surge in buying during the previous two months (the holidays).

•  For the fourth quarter as a whole, household expenditures rose at the fastest clip in almost nine years (Commerce Department report).

I suspect but don’t know 100% that this all has the GOP pissed and running in circles all tied up in knots about how to bash Mr. Obama all the while projecting a new image. A new image that says, “Hey, pay attention to us. We support the little guy, mainstream America and their plight, and we strive to wipe out low-wages, poverty, put a chicken in every pot, and a car in every garage.”

Yes, well this “new, old GOP” has pulled out all the stops and are retooling themselves to appeal to everyone except the top 1-2 percent as they will work hard to rake in that blasted 47% who would never support them that Mitt Romney identified for us in 2012. 

So, can the GOP change their ways and focus on the public sector's most-needy, poor, impoverished, low-wage Americans? Um, their PR machines are cranked up, and they have plenty of dough, so what the hell, why not try that instead of say more harsh voter ID laws (seen in this updated story).

Those bullet points above help explain why our economy is improving and by all indicators.   

Now some caution from the story: When a shift in income leaves companies and goes to workers, that marks the beginning of the end of an expansion, i.e., stronger salaries lead to faster inflation (that at times prompts the Fed to boost interest rates (but with wage gains muted and inflation below the central bank’s 2 percent target, they have signaled they’re in no rush to announce their first rate increase since 2006 and will be restrained in tightening credit once they do).

The B/L: The GOP is in a tizzy about bashing Obama policies, since with the good news, which they refuse to acknowledge is proof the Obama policies are in fact working, just like Obama-care is working for millions (but, all you GOP hard liners, don't despair: the GOP is still working on repealing the ACA). So, maybe their good guy image is shall we say, kind of fake?  I mean, how do they flush their DNA clean from all the residue of bashing since what, January 20, 2009

Stay tuned - we are about to find out.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Buy America Literally: Our Opening Bid $1 Billion — More As Necessary

Charles and David Koch
(Honestly Concerned About the Future, or Their Bottom Line)

Koch's for This (Big Time)
(So are those who pander to them)

Koch Fav: Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI)
(Huge Anti-Union/Public Employees/Public Anything)

All Koch Drinkers

Koch Cash Combined with Voter ID Movement
(Disaster in the Wings)


Original Story from here (January 27, 2015) and it follows this update (January 31, 2015:

Since Mitt Romney dropped out, all eyes are on a narrow field: The three pictured above, Walker, and maybe even Bush (if Koch's are convinced about him - more on that later). 

This Update Comes from EdVotes.org here.

At that recently concluded and infamous Koch retreat, which is always closed to the press, there was a gathering of key elected and wannabe elected GOPer types seeking the White House in 2016. The public has zero knowledge of exactly what the speakers say to try to impress on the audience of mega-donors.

But as far as Gov. Scott Walker is concerned, if we trust his comments, and we should, is that which were likely in keeping with what he also said to conservative activists at the Iowa Freedom Summit, an event organized by Citizens United (yes, that’s the radical conservative group behind the U.S. Supreme Court decision that opened the floodgates for unlimited corporate dollars to influence elections). If so, then lot more Koch cash may flow.

In Iowa at that time, Walker bragged about beating down public sector unions in his home state. He claimed to have strengthened Wisconsin, omitting any mention of his devastating $1.6 billion cut to public education or the fact that Wisconsin has plummeted to 42nd in the nation in job creation.
  
Also, recall how Walker was pranked by a phone call from a “fake David Koch” (Buffalo Beast reporter, Ian Murphy) regarding Walker’s efforts against Unions, and how the two of them bragged about “beating the bastards.” If you don't recall, here are two clips to refresh your memory on that call (in two parts):

PART I here (10 minutes) and PART II here (also about 10 minutes).

The Koch’s are behind anything pro-Union and especially public service Unions and public education … a fact.

So, hang on tight, it might be a bit bumpy and not so pretty trip until Jan 20, 2017, when a new president is sworn into office – let’s hope it’s not a Scott Walker type.

Five years after the Supreme Court’s landmark Citizens United decision, we are witnessing the legacy of a political climate where money equals speech. The Koch brothers are, in effect, spending enough to become their own political party. 

Here are some numbers to put that level of spending into context:

  • The $889 million they plan to spend is $250 million more than the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee spent in 2012 combined.
  • It is more than double the roughly $400 million the Koch network spent in 2012.
  • It is just under the total amount that either of the major parties spent throughout the 2012 election cycle. In 2012, the Democratic Party spent $1.07 billion, while the GOP spent $1 billion.
  • It is more than $150 million more than what John Kerry and George W. Bush together spent during the 2004 campaign.
  • It still less than the Koch brothers’ combined wealth can fluctuate on any given day.
  • Just two days ago, as the stock market went down, their combined wealth dropped more than $1 billion. 
As one Republican operative put it, “For that kind of money, you could buy yourself a president. Oh, right. That’s the point.” Indeed, if that’s the kind of money you now need to win a presidential election, it is no surprise that possible candidates at that confab included: Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Rand Paul (R-KY) all made the pilgrimage to the conference this weekend to pay their respects and kiss the Koch ring or whatever was needed to be kissed to garnish their support.

Yes, there are billionaire DEMS who fork over big money, but no one will top this pledge for 2016. The Koch brothers just pledged to spend nearly $1 billion to help win the White House for their own personal collection, I guess, but then to do what, pray tell?

Who in their right mind would have believed the USSC got it right on campaign financing when we see this type of what: Oh, yeah, just speech.

This Update ...

The political network led by conservative industrialists Charles and David Koch plans to spend close to a billion dollars on the 2016 elections, the brothers’ group announced at a retreat with donors Monday in the California desert. They announced a spending goal of $889 million to help pay for everything from advertising and data gathering to grassroots activation and massive donations to like-minded conservative groups.

It is an astonishing amount of money, even in this post-Citizens United world. More and more we see this astonishing sum of money as the “norm.”  How in the hell can that be normal, except for a multi-billionaire, so never mind.

What does that translate into? (1) About $1.36 million a day, every day, from now until November 8, 2016, or (2) $56,899 per hour, or worse, (3) $948 per second.

It’s almost a quarter of what was spent in the 2000 election by all candidates, parties and groups, both Republicans and Democrats, combined, when adjusted for inflation. We have made progress haven’t we? (Yes, we have. We have backed ourselves squarely into a smelly, bottomless cesspool).

Is there anyone left who doubts what is wrong with our system. If so, this should erase and clarify any wild thinking about “money is just speech” in nano second (that is one billionth of a second (1/1,000,000,000 sec).

Wow ... I wonder what the Koch's want for that kind of money? Any wild guesses: How about a lifetime pass to the White House? Or, a flight on AF-1? A birthday cake right on schedule? Or a new necktie on Christmas from the President and First Lady?

Or, I surmise, how about total control of the country? Now that sounds plausible.

There are still a lot people who say, "Hey money is speech, so what, they all do it. No biggie." Some also say "issues don't matter." Maybe not, until they do...

America's old symbol about to be replaced by a new one: