Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Free World Solution to Bad World Situation: Engaging & Defeating ISIS

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

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.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

U.S. Military Spending Abroad Must Be Brought Under Control

Slide Grab from The Daily Show (July 28, 2014) Segment is Here

The Slide Explains Itself

Over $18 Billion has been provided to the following ME countries. FYI: we spent $166 Billion in the ME and Africa in 2012 alone.

  1. $1.3 Billion to Egypt: (e.g., F-16, Abrams tanks, Apache helicopters).
  2. $6.8 Billion to Saudi Arabia (including bunker busters bombs).
  3. $4 Billion to the UAE.
  4. $2.1 Billion to Oman.
  5. $4.2 Billion to Kuwait.
That totals: $18.4 Billion.

Plus, to Iraq, where we were for 8 years and spent $2 Trillion, we still spend untold billions in equipment and supplies (weapons, ammo, etc.) that ironically a lot of that is now in the hands the ISIS (the former al-Qaeda splinter bloodthirsty radical group who is now on the verge of taking total control of Iraq).

And, of course, we are still in Afghanistan. 

Ironically re: Qatar. They returned a favor to us and bought $11 Billion in U.S. military hardware from various sources and then as noted in several sources and over the years and noted below) provided $100 million to various Taliban-linked sources.

Finally, U.S. aid to our closest ally, Israel, totals some $3 Billion annually and comes in various kinds of hardware.  

Qatar aids Al-Qaeda and Hamas in Gaza

December 2, 2013

In order to obtain “billions of dollars” from Qatar, Hamas has agreed to ease restrictions in Gaza on its rival Al Qaeda.  Dozens of Al Qaeda fighters have already been released from prison by Hamas officials to meet Doha’s demands. Qatar is probably emboldened by the influence and traction it has gained by backing Islamist fighters in Mali, Syria, and the Arab Spring countries.  Its monarchy senses that this is the perfect time to expand their influence in the Palestinian territories where old guard terrorist groups are short on cash.  Judging by the relative lack of media coverage of this development, they’re getting away with it.

Source World Tribune

The $64,000 question: Is all that money, aid, equipment, arms, and munitions working to get peace in that region? Short answer: Nope.

Image even half of that money put to use here at home in American cities, for our roads, bridges, schools, and other societal needs.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Savvy & Petty GOP: Push Impeachment and Blame DEMS for Pushing

So, is the GOP the Squirrel or the Nut???

I have to admit and give the GOP lots of credit on this one for so damn slick and clever, yet continually nasty and ugly with their awful stunts at political grandstanding. 

The latest GOP stunt: They are trying to turn the tables on the DEMS by making it look like the DEMS are the ones taking the lead and the ones to be held responsible for the GOP placing the impeachment noose around Mr. Obama's neck.

Of course, that strategy position was presented on FOX news Sunday. So, surprise, surprise, surprise!!!

The third ranking Republican official in the House refused to rule out a drive to impeach President Obama during an interview with Fox News Sunday and Chris Wallace:

Part of the show (about 9 minutes) of the exchange between GOP Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Chris Wallace can be seen below (on Youtube) – with parts of the transcript following.

Wallace: “Will you consider impeaching the president?”

Scalise:This might be the first White House in history that’s trying to start the narrative of impeaching their own president. Ultimately, what we want to do is see the president follow the laws. But the president took an oath to faithfully execute the laws of this land, and he’s not. In fact, the Supreme Court, unanimously, more than 12 times, unanimously said, the president overreached, and actually did things he doesn’t have the authority to do.”

Wallace: “So if he overreaches again on executive action to defer more deportations, what will the House do?”

Scalise: “We made it clear we’re going to put options on the table to allow the House take legal action against the president when he overreaches his authority. Others have already done that, cases have gone to the Supreme Court. Like I said, more than a dozen times, the Supreme Court unanimously, I’m not talking about a 5-4 decision, nine to zero, unanimously said the president overreached. So we’re gonna continue to be a check and a balance against this administration.”

I note that Rep. Scalise in that clip comes across like most in the GOP on the FOX circuit and elsewhere. He comes across as smart, articulate, and even rational in his words and appearance. But, folks that is what pros like him do. They come across as savvy, smart, and well-connected, like a pitch man for a new product they are hawking like the Flim-flam man. 

But their nice flowery words and smiles and gestures do not come anywhere near matching the nasty, awful, ugly deeds and tactics they use and attempt to use to discredit, shame, and slam Mr. Obama and for what reason? Simple: Political gain to get the black guy out of what they perceive as their “White House.” That is painfully obvious to me and millions of Americans.

The lame excuse of the President overreaching his authority. Give me a break. Wait, ah yes, that word: Overreaching his duties as the Chief Executive of the United States and for doing what? Yeah, doing his job. All the while this 7% rated Congress sits with both hands under their asses not doing their job. So, which past President never overreached on an issue they felt was important to the country? 

Wait, how about Congress not fulfilling their duty like officially declaring war. They haven’t done that since 1941, yet I can quickly name a few wars (Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq). Congress easily goes to war and ducks their sworn oath of office, but the President cannot?

Let's call this another Rick Perry oops moment and make it even shall we?

Friday, July 25, 2014

GOP Credibility on the Economy: None, Zero, Nada, Nil, Zilch, M.I.A.

It is the Economy. GOP in Full Denial

We Would If You Offered Anything Worthwhile

Very good segment follows from the ED SHOW (about 18 minutes). It captures many GOPers spouting their own words about not seeing any progress. 

It appears most of them do not trust hard facts, evidence as it were. They would rather jockey for political points on sour notes and stale opinion while blaming Mr. Obama for any success – how ironic is that?

It also seems they don't think cameras and sound equipment exit, or that people actually pay attention to what they say. Yes, Mr. and Mrs. Gee Old Poops, it is the economy and boy are you guys still stuck on stupid. 

If I were any of them (and, thank goodness I am not) I'd be praising the results, but wait, how can they praise success when they have resisted nearly all of President Obama's plans and ideas and proposals about how to recover from the near total economic meltdown of 2008, especially since they have been so harsh so long about so much all the time. Short answer: The word praise is not on their vocab list.

Enjoy the segment. 

Thanks for stopping by - come again sometime.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ladies & Gentlemen: Welcome to the Pit of Hell — No Guns; No Seat

Your Choice. We've Been Expecting You
(Entrance Hell)

Our NRA Host Will Seat You and Then Enlighten You

Have we reached the utter depth of insanity about the love affair with guns and the “right to carry openly and flaunt our guns” anywhere, anytime, and for any reason? Have we reached an absolute low in America? Are the inmates in charge?

When will the majority of the public say: Enough is enough. Stop this insanity.

From this article at Media Matters: The NRA Commentator asks: “What if instead of Gun-Free Zones we had "Gun-Required Zones?”

Johnson even enlightens us with his 3-minute video presentation - get a bucket handy, you might feel the urge to retch, vomit, or hell, even puke.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Serious Religious Sicarii (L) Outbreak: Dufus Maximus Extremus

100% Correct Justice Ginsburg -- well stated

RNC Convention T-Shirt Proposal for 2016
(see how far that goes)

Women Know and the Message is Clear
(wait and see)

For Bible Experts and Zealots in Waiting
(go ahead check them out)

Hobby-Lobby opponents started saying from day-one that the 5-4 decision would spread and Justice Ginsburg said "the court stepped into a minefield."

This update takes us back in time (actually it was only two weeks ago):

Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court backed companies like Hobby Lobby with religious owners who were seeking to avoid providing their employees with health insurance plans that cover contraception, as required by the Affordable Care Act. Under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the high court ruled that the government had to accommodate the religious beliefs of “closely held” companies regarding contraception, a description that applies to potentially half the private sector employees in the United States.

The decision came down in the midst of a fierce argument already taking place over the appropriate breadth of religious exemptions from state and federal laws, with conservative lawmakers all over the country proposing measures that women’s and LGBT rights supporters claimed would sanction discrimination in the name of religion. Supporters of such laws will likely take the Hobby Lobby decision as a sign that the Supreme Court has their back.

The Hobby Lobby decision is already spurring changes.

The part that resonates with me is how the religious right just a few months ago (and for decades before) were always defending themselves and their religious freedom and beliefs against that nasty, evil "left/DEM/Obama" as they claim their freedoms were lost or being taken away just like their guns (which BTW still has not happened, but more "open-carry" laws have sure popped up in RED-land) as they continue to ramp up in their fight for broader religious exemptions. Hobby-Lobby proves the point and now things no longer look that simple - they are complex and I'd argue a big more dangerous.

The graphs above illustrate what I mean. I strongly believe that we have reach the edge of the cliff where insanity is about to kick us over the edge. Religious freedom absolutely, 100% — and that means for everyone, and not just for the pick and choose crowd using it as a shield or excuse or reason to discriminate that see more and more cropping up.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Right to Vote Still Under GOP Assault: Help On the Way May Help

The Battle Field Map 

The Elephant in the Room

AG Eric Holder

First this Good News Update (July 15, 2014): This update comes from here and builds on the two stories posted below.

From that story: AG Eric Holder called the right to vote “…the most basic of all our rights. I will use every power that I have and every ability I have as Attorney General to defend that right to vote.”

Earlier this year, the Ohio Republican legislature passed laws that cut six days from the early voting period and ended same-day registration, among other restrictions. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted then announced that there would be no early voting on Sundays or on week-day evenings. Here's the deal from my perspective about all this.

Suppose: A young person turns 18 on election day. Under this new rule in Ohio, they could not register to vote on the same day of the election even if it were their birthday. Then early voting and week-day evenings benefits are being cut. Those times, I suspect, benefit the working man and woman who have a hard time getting off work to vote, and who probably in most cases are hourly and blue-collar workers and who more than likely vote Democratic.

I see a pattern here in simple terms, not just in Ohio but across RED-run states. That is to make it harder to vote, more restrictive, and more of a burden, rather than easy, quick, and trouble free. 

More on this subject continues below.

The First Story: You have to love this fine lady and her story seen in the following segment. She is still fighting for her right to vote and has been ever since she first voted 70 years ago. Now she is now 93 years old and still fighting for that guaranteed right to vote (in NC).

Watch her in this fine interview ... if you want to be pissed about this bogus (pink bunny) GOP ploy to suppress or stymie the vote, this sheds light on them, light which they hate ... and the recent turn around in Ohio:

I am glad we get to see and hear her story, but at the same time, it's a crying shame that she has to relive the days she thought were and in her own words, "It's worse today than back then." If the changes we are seeing, slow but sure, will have any impact at all, we're apt to see the results this November and then again in November 2016. 

The Second Story: Good news that turned crappy.

First the Good News  (segment below from MSNBC) has some good news in the battle to overturn or completely toss harsh voter ID laws regarding voting rights.

Then this crappy news story from Media Matters to pour water on our desert tray:

Then ask yourself this question: Do GOP-RED state voter ID laws, that most of us call voter suppression laws work in the worst possible way? Short answer: Yes they do. Then imagine that Mr. Willie Mims were your father, brother, grandfather, neighbor, or hell, even you. How would you feel?

Mr. Mims, age 93, showed up to vote at his polling place in Escambia County, Alabama recently to vote in the primary election.  He is Africa-American and no longer drives or doesn't have a license, and has no other form of ID. As a result, he was turned away without being able to vote, or not even offered the chance to cast a provisional ballot as the law requires in that situation. 

Jenny McCarren of Empower Alabama, a progressive group that gave Mr. Mims a ride to the polls recounted the story for MSNBC, adding that Mr. Mims's voter file showed he has voted in every election since 2000, as far back as the records go for that area.

So, how many Alabamans lack the proper photo/ID card to vote isn't known, in part because the state made no effort to find out before the ID law. However, nationwide, most studies put the figure at around 11%, and as high as 25% for African Americans, and I would note: guess which party they mostly vote for?

Mr. Mims said in an interview, in part, that he tired to vote, could not, was turned away, got mad, and just went home and laid down and took a nap ... you gotta luv this old guy.

Got it figured out now?

Back to the original post with this from Wisconsin that comes on top of this news re: Arkansas Voter ID Law Struck Down (April 24, 2014):  An Arkansas law requiring voters to present government-approved forms of ID was struck down by a state circuit court judge today for being unconstitutional. Last April, the Arkansas legislature overrode its own governor's veto to pass the law, which still allowed voters without ID to cast a provisional vote that would only count if they were later able to provide ID to an official or demonstrate that they were too poor to obtain one. No provisions were included in the law to provide transportation for the people who were too poor to afford an ID. While student IDs from out of state schools were not considered acceptable forms of ID, concealed handgun carry licenses were.

Updated (April 18, 2014): Recent quote from President Obama in a speech:

“Americans did not stand up and did not march and did not sacrifice to gain the right to vote, for themselves and for others, only to see it denied to their kids and their grandkids.”

Background from this Update: Last year alone (2013), at least 93 restrictive voting bills were introduced in 33 states, according to a Brennan Center for Justice at NYU, which builds on an earlier wave of voter suppression laws advanced in 2011 and 2012.

The vast majority of these harsh measure were pushed by Republicans bent on making voting harder, not easier, and many of roadblocks disproportionately affect minority, low-income, seniors, and students away from home.

The most restrictive are like Texas’s voter ID law and North Carolina’s sweeping voting law. However, they are being challenged in court. But that process may not move fast enough for Democrats (where most of the voters impacted normally vote), as they prepare for several critical midterm races that could determine control of the Senate for the rest of Mr. Obama’s presidency.

Two Segments in this prior update:

First Segment from Politics Nation 

Second Segment from HARDBALL 

Major update and review of this topic as well as this introduction from the article:

One of the enduring mysteries of Chief Justice John Roberts’s opinion striking down part of the Voting Rights Act is which part of the Constitution the landmark civil rights law actually violated. The Chief Justice argued that the Voting Rights Act violated the “tradition of equal sovereignty” of the states.

That concept is far more dubious than it might seem at first glance, according to a legal paper published by two longtime voting rights experts: one from UC Davis (CA) and one from the Loyola Law School (Los Angeles). They say in part: (my emphasis):

"Equal sovereignty was the basis of the longstanding argument, going all the way back to the founding of the United States, between the slave states and the free states. The slave states claimed that they were equally sovereign with the other states to decide whether to have slavery or not to have slavery. The equal sovereignty doctrine that Chief Justice Roberts relied on last year is rooted in the jurisprudence of slavery."

With that in mind, ask yourself: Do you believe that there is not need to protect minority rights in voting? Do you believe that the voter ID laws in some 20 states (many have been over turned) are fair and do not hamper the right to vote? Do you believe as I do that nothing should interfere with our right to vote as long as we are eligible, qualified, and registered to vote, and that the right to vote should be easy, open, and free in order for us to choose the kind of government we want and not the kind someone tells us is the kind they want us to have. Voting is the most-fundamental of our rights – it speaks to the kind of government we want that will set the rules we all must live under. That must not be suppressed or infringed on in any way.

Please continue from here and thanks for stopping by.
Review of this subject posted July 19, 2013 follows here: A good look back in history here. The highlights: “Section 2 is a ripe target,” stated Christopher Elmendorf, a law professor at the University of California Davis. His point was dealing with a forthcoming USSC hearing on the ACA, with this concern expressed by many:

If the Roberts court were to strike down or substantially weaken Section 2, then the Voting Rights Act (VRA) would technically still exist and would retain a few historically important functions  like the ban on poll taxes and literacy tests, for instance. But, on top of the demise of Section 5, the most successful civil rights law in the nation’s history would be all but a dead letter.  “There’s no question that Section 2 and 5 together are really the heart of the law,” said Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola Law School.

What would a suspected 5-4 Roberts court do? Naturally no one knows for sure in advance, but not for their lack of trying and that is based on the recent 5-4 ruling that triggered me to start this tracking the subject on this Blog. A very good analysis of where we are and how we got here is in order.

From the same author is seen here, and the most-important aspect is this: Less than one year after Sections 4 and 5 of the Voting Rights Act stymied voter suppression efforts in the 2012 election in Florida,  Texas and South Carolina, Chief Justice John Roberts in his opinion in Shelby County v. Holder (above link) heralded that the “reat strides the nation has made in combating such suppression and the fact that blatantly discriminatory evasions of federal decrees are rare.” But, not so rare. Even before the sun set that day, June 25th, officials in Texas and North Carolina had moved forward with restrictive voting measures that had been blocked by the federal law.
Quite frankly Andrew Cohen's two pieces are excellent sources on the topic for anyone interested in this subject, and also as frank: we should all be interested and greatly concerned. To suppress the vote, or employ anything makes voting more difficult or registration more of a burden is in a word: un-American. It is the greatest single most-important right we have: the right to vote easily and choose the kind of government we want. Apparently, 5-4 decisions like this one take away from that premise, at least in my view.

That June 25, 2013 Supreme Court (5-4) decision to roll back an important and critical part of the law, cited here in part that was overturned is reported on by NBC News and from USA TODAY this way:

The Voting Rights Act requires nine states with a history of discrimination at the polls, mostly in the South, to get approval from the Justice Department or a special panel of judges before they change their voting laws. The rule also applies to 12 cities and 57 counties elsewhere.  The law was renewed most recently in 2006, but the coverage map still uses election data from 1972 to determine who is covered. Some jurisdictions, including a county in Alabama brought the case, complained that they were being punished for the sins of many decades ago. 

Chief Justice Roberts cited census data showing that black voter turnout now exceeds white turnout in five of the six states originally covered by the law and he wrote in part: “Our country has changed, and while any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions.”

Another excellent source for information on voting and voters rights is the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU. Their statement on that 5-4 ruling follows (the emphasis is mine): 

The Brennan Center for Justice released the following statement:  “The Supreme Court’s decision is at odds with recent history. The Voting Rights Act was vital in 2012, not just 1965. For nearly five decades, it has been the nation’s most effective tool to eradicate racial discrimination in voting. And it is still critical today. Last year, Section 5 helped block laws making it harder to vote. There is a path forward. Section 5 stands. Congress now has the duty to upgrade this key protection and ensure our elections remain free, fair, and accessible for all Americans.”

I hope we all can agree on this part of statement: “... to ensure our elections remain free, fair, and accessible for all Americans.” I strongly believe nothing should ever hamper that right. 

What or how will Congress update the law quickly as to not cause any disruption for the 2014 midterms and beyond? That is questionable considering the stalemate and gridlock attitude down in DC with this harm-everything and be anti-everything Congress.

I draw their attention to this quote from Chief Justice Earl Warren in the Reynolds v. Sims (1964) case: “Legislators represent people, not trees or acres. Legislators are elected by voters, not farms or cities or economic interests.” That still has strong merit today and unless people can freely, openly, and not hampered in that vote then nothing will have changed for the good and the ugliness of all those past decades and the "good old days (that some still want)" will stick up that ugly head and we will be no better than a third rate nation moving backwards.

Finally, I wonder if any member of the GOP side of Congress or at the state levels knows what it means for all the grand daughters and grand sons in the future not to have the right to vote freely and openly. What is means to the future of our country for everyone? That is the question.

More on this subject follows in posts below. Enjoy. Thanks for stopping by.