Tag Archives: President Barack Obama

NO, ALL LIVES DO NOT MATTER

BLM

Black Lives Matter

Such has become the rallying cry for those protesting police violence against unarmed civilians, very often young black men. And the slogan and the movement represent the demand—not that black lives are to matter more than other lives—but that black lives be recognized as mattering at all. During the greatest part of the history of first the colonies and then the United States, it is obvious black lives didn’t matter one iota.

But some folks completely miss the point of Black Lives Matter. And often this is deliberate. The racist whites counter that BLM is racist itself. People who refuse to acknowledge that there are real bad cops out there who may not be racist but who operate from the standpoint that more force is always better and think so poorly of the people they are supposed to be serving that they disgrace the badge in interactions with the public on a regular basis.

Then there are the deadheads who allege BLM is anti-cop and simply masks the call to wantonly kill cops, as was done in Dallas last week with five policemen dying.

And finally, there is a widespread, though utterly mistaken, belief that Black Lives Matter is short for Black Lives Matter More Than Other Lives. So to counter that ridiculous reading of the cause they came up with the All Lives Matter slogan.

And an amazing variety of people have bought into that slogan, ranging from blacks themselves to white liberals who allow that yes, we must consider and support all life, to mainly white people who don’t give a shit about black lives and, while using this slogan as cover for a pretext of caring for everyone, really only believe that certain lives matter. And those lives that matter are the ones they deem worthy.

Receiving Welfare or Food Stamps? Your life doesn’t matter. Proof? Cuts to Welfare and Food Stamps that hurt people who need the help.

Children with inadequate diets who get at least some valuable nourishment in their schools? Their lives do not matter. Proof? Cutting meal programs in schools or changing the rules so that fewer needy children will have access to food assistance.

People with health insurance due to passage of the Affordable Care Act? Their lives do not matter. Proof? Over sixty efforts in Congress to repeal the ACA and the pledge of every major Republican Presidential candidate to replace the law with something nebulous but which will almost certainly result in fewer people wth health care insurance.

Victims of terroristic violence? Their lives do not matter. I’ll modify the “their lives do not matter” statement to “only some lives matter of people who are victims of terroristic violence”. Proof? The only outrage against terroristic violence from many in the United States comes when it is domestic—as in San Bernadino or Orlando and can be tied, however tenuously, to Islamic radicals. Or if it is terroristic violence against a European nation such as France or Belgium where one would presume the victims are white Christians or at least the majority are.

Remember when the Brussels attacks occurred? President Obama was in Cuba for an historic visit for a ball game as relations between the two nations are being normalized and followed that with a visit to Argentina where he and Mrs. Obama danced the tango at a state dinner. Right wing media was outraged.

http://newsbusters.org/blogs/nb/curtis-houck/2016/03/24/cnn-panel-goes-nuclear-obama-over-going-ball-game-dancing-tango

But the following link wil provide a list of terror incidents to date in 2016 around the world, just about every day, and many many with multiple victims numbering at least double figures and many that far exceed the death toll in Brussels, but there was nobody keeping track of where Obama was because those victims had darker skin and were murdered in foreign countries that most Americans couldn’t even find on a map or globe (not that they’d do much better locating Belgium). Why? Because those lives did NOT matter so who gave a damn?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_terrorist_incidents,_2016

Or even back in the good old USA if its some white dude shoots up a store or church or theater or school, the right cares more about any calls to institute some controls on assault weapons than is does for the lives lost.

No, the slogan All Lives Matter is a subterfuge so that the lives that matter are only the ones deemed worthy, mostly by the right wing. I bid you beware if you are not one of their favorites. Depending upon your own personal peculiarties, at a critical point you might find that, contrary to the slogan, your life don’t mean shit.

 

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WINNERS AND LOSERS

WinnersLosers

On June 25, 2015 the Supreme Court upheld the provision for subsidies in the Affordable Care Act regardless of whether the insured procured their insurance coverage through their own state exchanges or were forced into the federal exchange as their own state’s demented leadership refused to establish an exchange.

This ruling makes clear the winners and losers in this ongoing battle over trying to legislate the availability of health insurance for millions of Americans previously denied access, whether due to pre-existing conditions or lack of affordability.

WINNER————–Chief Justice John Roberts whose concise, common sense opinion sliced through all the nonsense of those who brought the lawsuit out of spite, not out of genuine concern the law was harmful. Of course that brought the enmity of conservatives, some of whom (okay a really tiny portion of whom) believe the Good Justice was blackmailed or worse.

http://www.theblaze.com/contributions/was-supreme-court-justice-john-roberts-blackmailed/

LOSER—————-Justice Antonin Scalia whose sputtering dissent, with phrasing like “interpretive jiggery-pokery”, reminds one of a pillar of the community found with his pants down in the local whorehouse amongst a bevy of belles but who would have you believe he was about to lead them in prayer.

WINNER————-President Barack Obama whose signature legislative accomplishment has survived yet another insidious but withering attack from the forces of politics, not of righteousness.

LOSERS————-Republican candidates for their party’s Presidential 2016 nomination who collectively and figuratively had pie shoved in their faces as again their predictions for the demise of the ACA were dashed on the rocks of futility with reactions ranging from the ridiculous to the ridiculous, nothing sublime remotely within their capacity to bloviate. Several shared their opinions via Twitter which proves once again twitter is for twits.

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/06/gop-candidates-react-supreme-court-obamacare-ruling

WINNERS………..American Citizens who now have reason to feel more secure in the knowledge that it is less likely they will face either financial ruin from receiving health care when they are not insured and that the availability of such coverage will inure to their physical and mental benefit…even in terms of saving lives… by being able to obtain treatment. 

Gee, imagine that, a federal law that actually is good for the lives of ordinary people.

Economist Paul Krugman highlights the way the law is working after only two full years of implementation.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/26/opinion/paul-krugman-hooray-for-the-aca.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad&_r=0

……….The Affordable Care Act is now in its second year of full operation; how’s it doing?

The answer is, better than even many supporters realize.

Krugman cites, among other positives,  the expansion of coverage to as many as 15 million Americans,  Also

The newly insured have seen a sharp drop in health-related financial distress, and report a high degree of satisfactionwith their coverage.

Too, instead of a budget buster as the rampaging elephants would have you believe, it has helped in lowering the federal deficit and, if repealed, the deficit would rise again.

Krugman does not deny there are some difficulties, but not insurmountable ones. So long as a number of states refuse to expand Medicaid (placing a huge burden on state and local taxpayers, see http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2015/6/24/not-expanding-medicaid-can-cost-local-taxpayers) millions of the most desperate are still denied coverage.

He further speaks of premiums, which is a contentious issue, no doubt. However, the Commonwealth Fund found that the average increase in premiums for coverage under the ACA from 2014 to 2015 was ZERO.

http://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/blog/2014/dec/zero-inflation-nationwide-for-marketplace-premiums

Now average does not mean no increases for anyone anywhere. Anecdotal evidence of large premium hikes are plentiful, especially in internet forums. And even the study above reports substantial increases in some states with lower costs in others.

Which brings me to my real point about WINNERS LOSERS.

So long as health insurance coverage in the United States is in the hands of private, mostly for profit companies, together with the ability of individual states to thwart the purpose of the Affordable Care Act and in light of the vagaries of state laws, insurance regulations, and insurance commissioners, there will be WINNERS and LOSERS in the game of health inusrance coverage and thus health itself.

The health and welfare of our citizens should not be subject to gamesmanship with keeping score a regular and necessary part of it.

This nation needs to wise up and create a system with true universal coverage. This could be achieved through a single payer system as our successful Medicare program could be expanded by making everyone eligible. That is my personal preference.

There are also hybrid systems such as in Australia with mandated coverage for all supported by general revenue taxes, a levy equivalent to our Medicare tax, and private insurance for some.

To me the chief flaw built into the ACA is that it is vulnerable to wanton attacks for purely political purposes, none of which have had either the intent or the ability to actually improve health care coverage in this country.

Of course the saddest part of these attacks is that the assailants simply do not care what harm they cause.

We can acknowledge that no system can be perfect. But our current system, even with the successes of the Affordable Care Act is still far below perfect.

Now, as we adjust to the reality of the ACA it will becvome ever more evident that we have a ways to go.

Let’s make WINNERS of the vast majority of our citizens and consign the LOSERS who oppose a better healthcare coverage system to the back pages of history where they belong.WINNE

NO MORE PLAYING KING OF THE HILL.

King-of-the-hill-childrens-game

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

I Corinthians 13:11  (KJV)

Like many kids in the 1950’s my friends and I often played “King of The Hill“, a game in which one of the players seeks to gain and maintain control of the high ground within a limited area.. Of course to do so, the winner needs to ensure her rivals go tumbling back down the hill, the other kids facilitating the champion by eliminating each other as they scramble to reach the top.

For too long, especially since the demise of the Soviet Union, the United States has been playing the game on the world stage. In doing so America is undoubtedly stronger than any of its rivals individually but to gain and maintain this superiority it must far too often spread its resources far too thinly to effectively accomplish all its goals.

As we stand atop the crest challenges come from every direction and there is no practical way to dispatch them all without serious damage to ourself.

Yet, we persist in trying.

The United States, through its many adventures, overt and covert, obviously is in denial that, because it outlasted the Soviets of the Cold War, it is THE supreme nation on Earth. Indeed, our leaders seem to believe we are entitled to this supremacy.

It is time to put away childish things.

Michael Klare explores this issue in this essay on TomDispatch.com

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176003/tomgram%3A_michael_klare%2C_superpower_in_distress/#more

In “Delusionary Thinking in Washington (The Desperate Plight of a Declining Superpower)” Klare discusses the trends in American foreign policy, more precisely the trends in exerting American military power to effectuate that policy, in the past tewnty-five or so years.

He quotes both George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush as to their vision of America in a post Cold War world and, though Bush 43 first formulated his vision as a peaceful one in 1999 early in his campaign for President, that vision obviously morphed into quite something else once he assumed office. (Some would argue the peaceful vision was only a  smokescreen but that argument is for another time.)

To Klare this “delusionary”  thinking extends across the aisle as he credits only Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders as totally removed from it among the D.C. lawmakers and power brokers.

He notes that other powers, big and small did not simply  kowtow to the undeniable singular supremacy of the United States as its superpower rival met its demise. General Colin Powell acknowledged this fact when he declared

We have to put a shingle outside our door saying, ‘Superpower Lives Here,’ no matter what the Soviets do, even if they evacuate from Eastern Europe.

Klare is both wary of and dismissive towards the more bellicose version of this notion of American supremacy mostly coming from the right, but does not spare President Obama.

President Obama, who is clearly all too aware of the country’s strategic limitations, has been typical in his unwillingness to retreat from such a supremacist vision.

Klare is not alone in his analysis even coming from a conservative perspective. Christopher Layne of the George H.W. Bush School at Texas A&M writing in The American Conservative in 2010 made many of these same points

Though the path Layne takes to make his point diverges in many ways from Klare’s his conclusion is

U.S. decline means that in the 21st century the United States will pay a high price if it endlessly repeats its mistakes.To change our foreign policy—to come to grips with the end of the Pax Americanawe first need to chage the way we see the world.

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/graceful-decline/

And I see no change in this view at all.

Too, the idea of American supremacy is pretty laughable on any level. This century has already witnessed the utter inability to unilaterally exert our will by force no matter how antagonistic nor how much we spend on our Department of War and all the physical and technological might at our command.

And yes, the current Department of Defense needs to return to its original name of Department of War. After all, we keep seeking ways to dominate others, not protect ourselves. As I recall the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution reads in pertinent part

…provide for the common defence…

not “prepare for war at every opportunity”.

Instead of seeking to exert power over others, I want our military resources devoted to ensuring no one else exerts power over the United States.

To do so, echoing both Klare and Layne, our philosophy towards foreign affairs needs to change.

TPP……TOO PECULIARLY (BI)PARTISAN

tpp

President Barack Obama has been touting the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and its companion Trans Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TATIP). These are potential trade agreements, the former being negotiated with 11 other nations bordering the Pacific Ocean and the latter with Europe.

There have been accusations that the negotiations are secretive and that entering such pacts, no matter the assertions by the Administration, will result in the loss of American jobs. In that regard it is claimed to be similar as to what the effects were of the North American Free Trade Agreement, better known as the notorious NAFTA passed during Bill Clinton’s tenure that itself was highly praised in advance for its benefits for American workers and highly cursed since by the thousands, if not millions, of American workers who lost jobs as a result.

Obama has encountered resistance to TPP within his own Democratic Party, most notably from Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Currently there is Congressional legislation pending granting Trade Promotional Authority to the President, the power to cut trade deals and expedite their passage through Congress without amendments or procedural hurdles.

And Republicans are leading the way.

Now these are the same Republicans who have opposed just about any legislation favored by Obama, or any executive action, or any thought speech or motion by Obama down to whether he installs the new roll of toilet paper so it rolls over rather than under.

Affordable Care Act? It got no Republican votes even though its basic premise was first developed by Republicans.

Cap and Trade? Nothing has really been done to enact legislation that would allow companies to, in effect, trade for credits to allow more carbon dioxide emissions. But again this principle first emerged under a Republican. George H.W. Bush was President and cap and trade been cited as a market approach to reducing pollution. Senator John McCain was even the main sponsor of such a bill in both 2003 and 2005. Since Obama took office you’d think he had decided to confiscate the first born of every American family and sell them into sexual slavery from the Republican reaction if the topic was even broached.

Immigration reform? George W. Bush tried to get legislation passed and many Republicans favored passing some measures, though the details drew varying levels of support. Now, it seems, that any efforts by Obama to get some degree of reform is such anathema to Republicans that many are willing to self-deport as a symbolic gesture against reform.

And then there is the ongoing case of Iran and its intentions…or not…to build a nuclear weapon. The Obama administration, together with five other nations, has concluded a framework of an agreement with Iran that would prevent such a weapon from being constructed. Finalization of such pact is pending as the details are committed to the legal niceties.

This would appear to be a good thing, keeping an atomic bomb away from what is considered a rogue state. And I recognize that Iran could break the pact, though its actions will be closely monitored. But, then again, Japan could renounce our World War II Treaty with them, re-arm, and flood the U.S. market with autos and electronics, including those fascinating toilets (with the toilet paper coming off over the top, of course.

But first 47 Republican Senators sent an open letter to Iran’s leadership stating their outright opposition to ANY agreement and their intention to thwart Obama at every turn. Some have even voiced a desire for war against Iran in preference to even the most stringently enforceable treaty possible.

So, just why would Republicans all of a sudden fall all over themselves to work with President Obama on the TPA for both the TPP and TATIP? By god they’ve been willing to work with Democrats to get them to agree in the Senate in order to have enough votes to ensure passage.

In the past few years we have witnessed no cooperation between the two parties in Congess unless the American public was going to get screwed.

Senate Democrats may have maintained unity to prevent the fast tracking sought by Obama,

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/12/senate-democrats-trade-promotion-authority_n_7267600.html

But the mere fact that Republicabns are siding with President Obama on this issue should be sufficient to raise suspicion if not simply reject the TPA out of hand.

The old saying is Politics makes strange bedfellows, commonly atributed to American writer and essayist and friend of Mark Twain, Charles Dudley Warner, though it may have derived from Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

Obama and Senate Republicans make for strange bedfellows indeed.

Anyone have pictures?

IS THAT A NUKE IN YOUR POCKET OR ARE YOU JUST HAPPY TO SEE ME?

treaty

On the heels of the just announced agreement with Iran on its nuclear program, negotiated by China, Russia, Germany, France, England, and, of course, the United States, comes praise for the diplomatic efforts of President Barack Obama.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/02/iran-deal-obama-legacy_n_6996586.html

In that framework of a final agreement, which is to be reduced to its legal language by June, Iran is to scale back its nuclear program signficantly and a series of inspections and safeguards will be implemented to ensure compliance.

Earlier this year Obama took major steps to normalize relations between the U.S. and Cuba after more than a half century of rancorous discourse, travel taboos, economic sanctions, and assassination plots.

In the ongoing battle against climate change—the most difficult part being the intransigence of conservatives to even acknowledge the problem as something to seek resolutions to—last November Obama announced a bilateral agreement with China in which that nation works to reduce emissions.

This triumvirate of accomplishments… an Axis of Non-Evil?… certainly is more worthy of Nobel Peace Prize scrutiny than anything Obama did prior to being honored with that award in 2009, the year he entered office.

Of course the praise for this feat is near universal in this country as Congress rejoices that, with the threat of Iran nukes eliminated, it can finally pare the Defense budget to a reasonable level that will still allow for our security as a nation.

Oh, I wish. Republicans right and righter (no left in that Party) are vociferous in their condemnation of the pact and issuing vague threats…well, not so vague…to attempt to dismantle it. They seem to be in utter defiance of the Benjamin Franklin adage

There has never been a good war, nor a bad peace.

They seem determined to commit war on Iran no matter the cost.

One can reasonably express skepticism that Iran will fail to keep its bargain or that the inspection process will somehow fail or that, just maybe, instead of nukes Iran has the largest garage in the world with a battalion of Ted Kaczynskis producing pipe bombs to be mailed to each American household.

But, it does not matter what the terms of the agreement are nor how staunchly they can be enforced. Were Iran simply to surrender all nuclear materials it possesses, with Geraldo Rivera hosting the biggest live TV event since the opening of Al Capone’s vault so the world can bear witness, these critics speak and act as if nothing will satisfy their concerns short of bombing Iran into submission.

Will there be strict compliance with this agreement should it go into effect? How the hell do I or anyone know that. And strict compliance means Iran builds no nuclear weapons. But, absent strict compliance, is there some basis for forecasting whether it’s true and clear goal…preventing Iran from raining nukes down on Israel, the U.S. or any other nation..is achieved?

Well look at this list of treaties dealing with limiting nuclear arms.

  • Treaty of Tlatelolcol           1967
  • Treaty of Rarotonga          1985
  • Treaty of Bangkok             1995
  • Treaty of Pelindaba           1996
  • Treaty of Semipalatinski    2006
  • START I                             1991
  • SALT I                                1972
  • ABM Treaty                        1972

Some of these treaties have expired of their own accord. Others experienced the withdrawal of at least one of the signatories including the United States.

From a technical viewpoint, have all these treaties been upheld while in effect? I don’t know and I don’t care. The principal purpose of each and every one of these diplomatic coups was to avoid mushroom clouds that were killing people.

Since there have been none of these mushroom clouds appearing with the intent of killing large numbers of humans since August 9, 1945, I look at them as a success. Not unequivocably so, but the expiration and/or violation of any of them has not resulted in catastrophe.

But we all know that prior to this basic agreement’s inception, there was  a wide call among the neocons to just go ahead and bomb Iran as the primary preferred pre-emptive action to be taken.

Here on Moyers and Company Robert Perry scores the pre-agreement commentary by such as John Bolton, Thomas Friedman, and Joshua Muravchik that appeared in either the Washingtton Post or the New York Times. Friedman actually advocated for arming ISIS to help thwart Iran while the other two were all in for the U.S. to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities.

http://billmoyers.com/2015/03/30/nyt-publishes-call-bomb-iran/

Bolton continued the contrived warmongering of the Bush Administration of which he was a part (also getting paychecks from Reagan and Bush I as part of his resume) by ignoring or lying about some basic facts. Here  he is taken to task for doing so by Jon  Schwarz.

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/04/04/factual-errors-john-boltons-bomb-iran-op-ed-new-york-times-care/

And there are even commenters on a Post-Gazette editorial who extend their record of inane insanity by urging us to have war with Iran now rather than waiting until later.

http://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/editorials/2015/04/05/Iran-s-framework-Negotiators-deserve-a-chance-to-finish-the-details/stories/201504040026

Iranians seem to be pretty damned happy.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/02/iranians-celebrate-nuclear-deal-tehran

Surprisingly that grumpy old red state conservative Pope Francis not only spoke favorably of the deal but had the temerity and audacity to do so during his annual Easter address. According to many folks in this country promoting peace is not very Christian.

Alas, no matter the outcome of this deal, thwarted by Congress or not, observed fully by Iran or not, unilateral destructive action by Israel or not, this small step towards peace will remain that. Just one small step for man, but forever leaping into war for mankind.

Because, indeed, because they have seduced My people, saying, ‘Peace!’ when there is nopeace—and one builds a wall, and they plaster it with untempered mortar

Ezekiel 13:10

THE ISIS WARS—MEDIA EDITION

isis

With apologies to Oscar Hammerstein, “How do you solve a problem like ISIS?”

That is not an easy question to answer. A popular suggestion is akin to the militant cry often expressed in identical or similar terms, “Bomb ’em back to the Stone Age!” The difficulty with that position vis a vis ISIS is that there is a salient argument that the organization has never really left the Stone Age.

But strategic and tactical and practical solutions cannot exist without an understanding of what…precisely…ISIS is. (And please do not invoke the common pro athlete’s cop out, “It ISIS what it is”)

I’m not really sure I trust the government…ours or any other nation’s…to determine and act on this forthrightly. To do so would be to delve into self-interest, self-righteousness, and self-delusion.

On the other hand we have many honest, hard-working journalists with apparently vast amounts of time on their hands. If they did not we would not have witnessed a plethora and effusion of stories about Brian Williams’s war lies, and now Bill O’Reilly’s emulation of Williams which, curiously, took place much more than a decade prior to the foggy mind of war Williams experienced in Iraq.

Just today I have read a friend’s praise for a well-researched essay in The Atlantic by Graeme Wood which, beneath the story’s title, What  ISIS Really Wants, summarizes Wood’s findings as “The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.”

http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2015/02/what-isis-really-wants/384980/?fb_ref=Default

That immediately called to mind a headline I had read on Salon titled “The Atlantic’s Big Muslim Lie: What Muslims Really Believe About ISIS”. Obviously a negative critique of Wood’s work, it was written by American Muslim scholar and frequent contributor to many media outlets, Haroon Moghul. (For more background on him visit this: http://www.loonwatch.com/2012/12/exclusive-loonwatch-interview-with-haroon-moghul/)

Moghul attacks Wood for his over-reliance on learning what ISIS is  from ISIS members and supporters themselves.

Imagine a group of people who rape.  Enslave.  Maim.  Murder.  Ethnically cleanse.  Extort.  Burn.  Behead.  But then imagine this—they don’t lie?  Can’t lie.  Won’t lie. That’s what Graeme Wood…really wants us to believe.

That a movement that has earned the world’s nearly universal opprobrium for its grotesque violence and wickedness is nevertheless honest in describing why it does what it does.  I beg to differ.  The only Muslims who think ISIS represents Islam, or even Muslims, are ISIS themselves.

http://www.salon.com/2015/02/19/the_atlantics_big_islam_lie_what_muslims_really_believe_about_isis/

But is Moghul’s piece in any way definitive?

Well, the common response to perceived Islamaphobia is to deny that it is a hateful violent religion but is at heart a peaceful one, and that the Jihadists are outliers.

Then along comes President Barack Obama, at the National Prayer Breakfast, making note of the overall peacefulness of Islam, with very notable exceptions. In that manner Obama likened it to Christianity while highlighting that faith’s iown violent past both distant—the Crusades and the Inquisition—and more recently in America supporting slavery, Jim Crow laws and the Ku Klux Klan. All that in stressing that his approach to ISIS, among other issues, is that we are fighting extremists and their religious background is of relative unimportance.

“But not so fast there, Mr. President”, Jeffrey Tayler seems to be saying in his criticism of Obama’s speech, very different from the other criticism Obama generated.

The chief impetus for all this bloodshed and mayhem is, obviously, religion – the commonality Obama conveniently skirted. Had religion not existed, had it waned by our time, all this violence would just not have happened. If some of these people would have found other reasons to fight, the religious aspect of the conflicts renders them intractable, even insoluble.

and adds later regarding Christianity

Straightaway, remember that both the Old Testament and the New sanction and even sanctify slavery, as well as proffer helpful advice to slave masters. The Catholic Church embarked on the Holy Inquisition not to do inexplicable violence “in the name of Christ,” but to rid its “flock” of unclean “sheep” – most notably “secret Muslims” and Jews, heretics and witches.

http://www.salon.com/2015/02/15/faith_fueled_forces_of_hatred_obamas_religion_speech_was_troubling_but_not_for_

And, of course, for the “lighter side” of attacks on Islam as a religion per se, we always have Bill Maher.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/01/09/bill-maher-doubles-down-on-islam-terrorists-and-the-mainstream-share-a-lot-of-these-bad-ideas.html

Are any of these opinions 100% correct? Is there any sense attempting to make religious sense of ISIS?

Maybe yes, maybe no.

This piece appeared in Slate recently

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2015/02/20/might_isis_collapse_before_america_can_destroy_it.html?wpsrc=fol_fb

Here Joshua Keating posits that the funding mechanisms for ISIS have been interrupted severely enough that it may possibly collapse or implode of its own accord before the United States or any other power can dispose of it through force.

I posted that story on Facebook together with my own brief commentary.

ISIS is not another terrorist group a la Al Qaeda. It is not really a terrorist group at all but instead a form of rebel army with territorial aspirations seeking to establish its status as a true Caliphate. It mirrors the regular tactics of war while occasionally committing horrific acts of intimidation akin to the terrorism we know and hate. You know, like the KKK and Timothy McVeigh.
But that also makes it more vulnerable to traditional military opposition than have been Al Qaeda and other known terrorist organizations. If indeed its funding mechanisms have been interrupted, perhaps irreparably so, then the utterly misguided idealists flocking to join the “cause” from many corners of the Earth are going to be rapidly disillusioned when they learn they have left the comforts of home for near starvation and only a hole in the desert, not a pot, to piss in.

I’ll reconsider my remarks to this extent. I am not in total agreement with any of the assessments above regarding Islam as irredeemably violent or simply a peaceful ideology perverted beyond reason.

Rather I would offer this.

There are evil people in this world, some of whom only demonstrate those tendencies in a small way…one-on-one murders, spousal abuse, and certain professional sports come instantly to mind. Each of them has a distorted rationale as justification for their actions.

But those with more grandiose ambitions of achieving glory through mass annihilation or war often are not creative enough to develop these more mundane rationales and so revert to the teachings that were inherent in their upbringing or were fervently adopted at more mature stages of their lives, and those teachings are religious in nature.

Yet, in the end, evil is evil and ultimately is due to greed. Whether that greed manifests as financial, territorial, sexual, or religious is irrelevant as to determining motivation. It is relevant as to determining counter-measures.

In applying these counter-measures we must caution ourselves not to become who we deem evil. That has frequently not been too easy for us to accomplish.

t

KEEPING SCORE

attacks

The pie chart above depicts the percentage of terrorist attacks within the United States by groups representing various factions between 1980 and 2005 and was developed from an FBI data base. It was produced by Global Research: Centre for Research on Globalization and is dated May 1, 2013.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/non-muslims-carried-out-more-than-90-of-all-terrorist-attacks-in-america/5333619

Looks like my Jewish friends have been more active than my Arab ones though it would seem I have more to fear from my fellow lefties.

More from that report

U.S. News and World Report noted in February of this year:

Of the more than 300 American deaths from political violence and mass shootings since 9/11, only 33 have come at the hands of Muslim-Americans, according to the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security. The Muslim-American suspects or perpetrators in these or other attempted attacks fit no demographic profile—only 51 of more than 200 are of Arabic ethnicity. In 2012, all but one of the nine Muslim-American terrorism plots uncovered were halted in early stages. That one, an attempted bombing of a Social Security office in Arizona, caused no casualties.

And just to be clear, although the Fort Hood murders were perpetrated by a Muslim, since that attack was against U.S. military personnel I would not designate that as an act of terrorism. As one of my frequent commenters so conveniently provided on my entry, Isis In America

Further, per wiki, 22 USC 38, says, in the context of State Department country reports: “[T]he term ‘terrorism’ means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents.”

So those unfortunate victims were combatants and I maintain justifiable targets in the U.S. declared War on Terrorism, just as troops in Iraq and Afghanistan may have been killed by clandestine means rather than during an open firefight.

The purpose of all this?

The answer, my friends, is blowing in the reality that while terrorism of any nature is real and needs to be guarded against, it is far from the all-consuming danger portrayed by the rhetoric of countless politicians supported by mouth-breathing pundits whose livings depend on the number of readers/viewers they attract. And none of them will be earning their paychecks should they choose to report the truth that there is not a terrorist bomb lying in every dumpster and that every one of the 2.5 million Muslims in the United States is not intent on slitting their throat at the first opportunity.

Moreover, with over 1.5 BILLION Muslims in the world, if the adherents of that religion as a whole were consumed by the need to destroy Western Civilization, one would think that much greater increments in that destruction would have been achieved than has in fact been done by the Wolves of Wall Street.

Here within our boundaries we have our own home-grown terror groups finding comfort in their Second Amendment Rights to arm themselves to the teeth for protection against homosexuals, IRS agents, and blacks. They are not content to maintain an alert defensive posture but individuals and small groups of them have deemed it necessary to be pro-active.

That is why in 2013 Mother Jones could report that between 9/11 and the end of 2012 domestic right wing terrorists had killed 29 people across the nation as opposed to 17 fatalities from Muslim terrorists…and they are including the Fort Hood deaths which should be discounted for the reasons above.

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/04/charts-domestic-terrorism-jihadist-boston-tsarnaev

And perhaps potentially deadly attacks by Muslims have been thwarted? Fair enough, with a few notable instances of shoe and underwear bomber wanna-bes. Any others?

The jihadists’ record as bomb makers would probably be even worse if not for the FBI, which has reeled in dozens of would-be terrorists with its controversial informant program. Of the 203 jihadist terrorists counted by the New America Foundation, just 23 got their hands on explosives or materials to make a bomb; more than half of those obtained the components (often nonfunctioning) from federal informants or agents as part of a sting. Of the 174 nonjihadists, 51 right-wing terrorists and 5 anarchist terrorists tried making bombs. Only five of the right-wing terrorists got their bomb-making supplies via sting operations.

So it appears that

The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men. Gang aft agley

And many would have gone further aft agley had the FBI simply stayed away and not provided both the inspiration and the means for terror dreams to morph into civilian nightmares.

How about abroad? While some Americans have been targeted for well-publicized killings by ISIS, and we have the four American dead in the Benghazi consulate attack, the total number of fatalities from American targeted incidents is negligible. But thousands of Iraqis have been murdered by Muslim groups during and after the war there so it would be more accurate to say that Muslims have more to fear from Islamic terrorism than do non-Muslims.

For further references I would suggest these.

http://archive.adl.org/nr/exeres/faf397e9-96e6-4a7a-89d4-1968e1a44a15,db7611a2-02cd-43af-8147-649e26813571,frameless.html

http://www.visionofhumanity.org/#/page/our-gti-findings

If interested one can access any number of reports/analyses from both conservative and liberal organizations (Heritage Foundation included) that provide statistics about terror.

None may be exceptionally expansive and may duplicate  others’ work in some aspects. If they do not editorialize that Americans are pretty safe from that violence the facts presented easily support that conclusion. Too, there may be discrepancies in their numbers, most likely due to utilizing different sources with different time frames of reference and often with somewhat flexible definitions of terrorism.

What of ISIS or Boko Haram?

As much undeniable terror as they do spread, they are more akin to traditional armies than to Al Qaeda and consanguineous organizations. Indeed, ISIS has declared itself a state…without established borders to be sure… but truly embarking upon its version of Manifest Destiny.

Much as the threat from these foreign entities, especially Muslim centered ones, is palpable in their part of the world, it is equally impalpable in the United States or to American targets anywhere, save for rare instances.

Yet, Peter King, Lindsey Graham, and even President Obama, can be quite prone to hyperbole that exaggerates the danger in order to…when it comes right down to it…justify huge military and intelligence budgets, as well as severe security measures that protect us from the slightest of threats.

It is as if a hovering mother sends her adorable five year old outdoors to play in September wearing a complete snow suit because it once snowed on that date thirteen years ago…and mother and child reside in Phoenix.

There are numbers galore that reveal how little we have to fear from terror. The likelihood of death from driving without a seat belt or smoking cigarettes, jaywalking, owning a gun, or not having health insurance outranks your chances of dying from a terrorist attack, foreign or domestic. And these are issues of concern we address less drastically or not at all.

And you know something else? We have the same Arabs to thank for those revealing numbers that we now want to declare our enemies.

Isn’t it ironic?

THE WAR ON RUBBER STAMPS

rub

I want to call your attention to a dreadful strategy being employed all over this great nation of ours.

We are accustomed to our politicians debating about and then even legislating against various perceived enemies

Drugs? We have a war on them.

Poverty? We have a war on it.

Terror? Check, another war.

Women? We have far more women than we do any of the rest and a war on them to match.

But there is one inexplicable innocent victim. A victim that has been derided and used as a pawn for political gain, A victim of politicians everywhere with no regard for party. A victim with no ideology of its own. A victim with no history of endangering a soul, though on occasion it has been involuntarily made into a weapon.

That victim…that target of opprobrium…that scapegoat sacrificed to the whims and impure agendas of those seeking our votes…is the formerly lowly rubber stamp.

Oh, sure, you argue that the rubber stamp is capable of making you angry. Many a writer has received a response to submission of a manuscript with nothing but the word REJECTED boldly imprinted.

Your bank may send an ominous looking envelope your way and, once opened and the check you just sent for the payment on your Lamborghini is stamped INSUFFICIENT FUNDS. (Better get that raise from McDonalds, huh?)

And then you have the notice from the electric company that tells you your bill is OVERDUE.

But though you have received bad news is that really the fault of the rubber stamp? It just had the misfortune of being employed by some ham-fisted, faceless bureaucrat working for uncaring corporations who probably purchased that stamp as simply one of many, with no regard for its individuality.

Now, viewing campaign ads, we are inundated with admonitions to vote for a Republican because the Democratic opponent will be a “rubber stamp for Obama”. That’s even true in the race for Pacoima Dog Catcher.

Or, if not a rubber stamp for Obama and, depending on which House is at issue, It seems Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have plenty of rubber stamps in their arsenals.

It happens on both sides. Democratic House and Senate candidates warn that their election rivals will be rubber stamps for John Boehner or Mitch McConnell. At least in Boehner’s case the rubber stamps come with a gift certificate to a tanning salon.

In Pennsylvania Pat Stefano is seeking a place in the state Senate as a Republican.He is facing off against Deb Kula, a Democrat who warns Stefano will be a rubber stamp for Republican Governor Tom Corbett. However,looking at the polls, if Stefano is such a rubber stamp it will read “EX-GOVERNOR”

Why can’t we promote the peaceful and benevolent uses of rubber stamps? “APPROVED”, “PAID IN FULL”, ACCEPTED AT HARVARD”, TAYLOR SWIFT’S NEXT BOYFRIEND” are just a few of the good, positive, and pleasing messages rubber stamps deliver every day.

Maybe we can restore sanity to the issue of rubber stamps when the candidates promoting this shallow, simplistic, and deceptive practice by ensuring that, on the day after the election, this stamp appears next to their names:

LOSER

MONDAY MUSINGS ON TRUE VOTER FRAUD

v fraud

Voter fraud can take many forms, but in person, false representation of oneself, to be cured by photo ID, is probably the least common.

Some forms do not even exist in relation to the ballot box itself but lie somewhere in the ether of pre-election activity designed to affect voter decisions with the same results from counting votes as the far more common deceptions practiced by elected or appointed voting officials.

Here I am not addressing the great tradition of campaign promises or attacks  which stretch credulity to the snapping point. If you want bipartisan political efforts one need look no further than the present and historic rhetoric utilizing lies, distortion, and obfuscation to sway the electorate. Instead I highlight one far less obvious but just as effective tactic of particular interest in 2014.

In that regard I ask simply, What is the status of the lawsuit filed by Republican members of the House of Representatives against President Barack Obama (or, as his detractors like to emphasize…President Barack HUSSEIN Obama) alleging the worst kind of violations of the United States Constitution in addition to the complaint that he took his ball and went home, wah, wah, wah.

The status of that lawsuit is easy to explain in laymen’s terms. rather than providing an interpretation of the motions, what discovery entails, or pre-trial conferences, I need tell you only this. That suit has never been filed. Moreover, I say with every confidence, that suit will never be filed.

Speaker of the House John Boehner and company amped up their electoral base by promising to use the legal system to rein in an unlawful President. Of course to many of them he was not only unlawful in his actions but illegal in his ascendancy to the title of The Most Powerful Man on Earth.

The GOP and its propaganda arm, FOX News, made it clear that this litigation was the only way to save the nation from a dictator wanna-be. They had only the interests of the nation at heart and going to court was the only way available to protect those interests.

I doubt that cost of filing is a factor. Though filing and administrative fees can vary from one federal district court to another, generally the cost will be less than $500. The Republicans favorite sugar daddies, the Koch Brothers, leave more than that amount in their pants pockets when they drop them off at the dry cleaner.

The promise this lawsuit offered to disaffected , mainly Republican, voters, and the publicity generated from it could do nothing but provide confirmation to the GOP base that their concerns (most imaginary or exaggerated beyond reason) with THIS President would be removed in another institution they ironically also often maintain is biased against them, the federal court system.

In the intervening months, especially as the election draws nigh and early voting for white folks with time off from their jobs proceeds apace in red and blue states alike, the issue of the lawsuit has been muted. After all, if the drumbeat remained persistent there are Republican voters with enough common sense to ask about its status.

The talk of a lawsuit was never reality but always illusion, a sleight of hand distraction to divert audience attention from how they were being bamboozled.

Having served the purpose of misdirection the lawsuit is now the proverbial Out of sight—Out of mind.