Member Profile

Total number of comments: 71 (since 2013-11-28 14:42:56)

Alamaine

Showing comments 71 - 1
Page:

  • Top Five Differences between Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson and Miley Cyrus
    • The DDynasty folks are reminiscent of ZZ Top from years gone by, about thirty of them, at least. Nothing against the originals, but the knock-offs seem to have let time pass them by without realising that most of the rest of us have kept up with the times. Louisiana is a place where not everyone lives, especially those with sufficient education to be able to make informed comments about social issues.* Louisiana has a reputation for being among the least successful at graduating students from high school and we have to wonder (not much, not long though) where the major part of their "upbringing" comes from. The Southers tend to fall into the category of marginal learning and then - even when they do succeed - one wonders the criteria and measures for success. Many of us recall the "Beverly Hillbillies" from decades gone by and the Bob-sons need to be seen in the same light. Not bad people but not really keeping up with the times, once again. Yet, as with other programming that highlights the simpler life, I wonder if the attraction is to make the viewers feel better, even superior to a bunch of lucky backwoodsies ...

      * link to americashealthrankings.org

  • Where did Syria get its Chemical Weapons in the First Place? (Brühl)
    • Here's one of the 'usual' suspects ... As we know, the 'West' has a bad habit of knowing who has what and where what is based upon previous transactions. This is similar to the police selling contraband to people who later get arrested simply because the 'authorities' provided the banned substances or items in the first place.
      link to independent.co.uk

  • If Obama goes Back to Congress on Syria, they must save America by voting No (van Buren)
    • My view on the series of events leading the President to threaten action in Syria has changed over the past few weeks. One might suggest that he was taking requests from others in the Middle East and acting upon them like the DJ in a dance hall catering to "goodfellas." There has been a report about General Clark's knowledge of the Bushists' desire to take out seven countries in five years, Syria among them.* That Iraq took so long indicates that the government gang may be behind schedule and is now trying to pick up where it was supposed to be years ago.
      As with Iraq, the same kinds of claims are being advanced, with chemical weapons being used by al-Assad to kill his own people.
      The change to my thinking started with Barry O's "knee-jerk" reaction to events in Syria, telegraphing his "red line" to all and any who would listen, thereby setting up conditions under which he would proceed. From there, thinking has gone to his (unwitting as it may seem) providing a proper context for such actions. As we know, the lead-up to the Iraqi Debacli was mostly a public relations effort, with Colin Powell providing the most obviously obscene presentation of all. John Kerry has tried the same thing, except instead of using a little vial of whatever, his case has been supported by an image of corpses from Iraq in 2003 as evidence of al-Assad's miscreacy.** As Iraq redux, the Syrian "red line" question seems to have been answered with a self-fulfilling prophecy, either with al-Assad not taking Barry seriously or with agents in the region supporting and encouraging the reinvigoration of the "hit parade," leaving Barry to spin the platters.
      What is happening now - and will be in the future - is an informed debate about how and when the United States will commit itself militarily. Rather than blindly following the "leadership" and its claims about some supposed and conjectural atrocity or capability, the circumstances have to be well-investigated by as independent of a body as is possibly available with the results properly evaluated and accepted by any and all concerned. What happened in Iraq (and Afghanistan) has set the "red line" for the use of the American military back quite a bit, leaving ambitious leaders less room to maneuver when attempting to fill the military experience/leadership square on their CVs.
      The other benefit of the recent turn of events, with Vlad Putin and Russia becoming involved, is the likelihood of an international force imposing itself on Syria - to begin with - and then to others who have not signed or ratified the Chemical Warfare Convention or the NonProliferation Treaty. We know of one nation in the Middle East that has been the recipient of the "West's" largesse but doesn't adhere to the positive values. This may the time that EVERYONE gets to play by the same rules as everyone else if they want their tunes played on the international dais.
      When I'm feeling charitable, I like to think that Barry O was thinking along these lines all along and just had to provide the proper incentive for people to come to the same conclusion, given that he voted against the Iraqi Debacli continuation. But, in more sober times, it appears that he is the recipient of "dumb luck," having been provided - providentially - with a global reaction that indicates negotiation and diplomacy is the better course of action at arriving at a amenable solution.

      * link to salon.com
      ** link to telegraph.co.uk

  • It's not about Democracy: Top Ten Reasons Washington is Reluctant to cut off Egypt Aid
  • Yep, We're Screwed: Top Ten Recent Climate Change Findings that should Scare You
    • When an organism overwhelms its host to the point of weakening the very life source upon which the organism depends, the point of the life source dying is to deny the organism any further medium upon which to survive or reproduce. Thinking of the Earth in terms being alive, any parasitic life form will eventually kill off what it needs to survive, upsetting the natural balances and flooding the body with toxins that eventually do in not only the host but anything that needs the host's strength and vitality.
      Of course, the foregoing is somewhat redundant but the parallel has to be drawn between what we each need to do as individuals to manage and what the Earth must do for its system to function. Whether there are parasites, toxins, or uncontrolled populations of reproducing of cells, an individual can only tolerate so much. Ironically, what keeps the system functioning (so far) are chemicals that potentially reduce or eliminate the overpopulation along with the constant threat of radiation to terminate their very existence.
      Certainly, there are classifications of cells that believe that their dominance will assure their ultimate control and success but this is all illusion given their very narrow scope and view of their objectives. Mindlessness and madness tend to obscure or blind the actors to the fact that their roles are debilitating in the long term. Without self-control and being conscious of the importance of all other aspects of the system, most of which are candidates for competition themselves, survival is tenuous at best.
      And, yes, we are 'screwed.' Honey bees are dying off. Exotic ants are making transcontinental trips. Algal blooms are killing lakes. Invasive species of all sorts are taking over from natives. GMO crops are poisoning farmers. This 'screwing' is the result, by and large, of trying to keep up with competitive forces rather than attempts at cooperative efforts to maintain a delicate balance that has evolved over time WITHOUT human involvement.
      But, we can think of this as another form of the evolutionary process, Nature allowing the excesses to progress to a point of unsustainability when the destructive urges will have run their course and petered out. As smart as humans can imagine themselves, hubris will the eventual limiting factor. Perhaps there will be a time when diseases (including many that have been recently 'eradicated') will prevail along side of famines and resource wars to restore equilibrium. The question for that time becomes a matter of whether or not the survivors will understand the importance of compromise and accord, not only among themselves but with the organism upon which they depend.

  • How the GOP Libya Witch Hunt Made us Close our Mideast Embassies and Crippled US Diplomacy
    • "This embassy closure business is so bizarre and hysterical ..." I was wondering if 'hysterical' referred to some panicky response by the Government to threats it perceives as being credible or if 'hysterical' should be thought of as producing 'uncontrollable laughter,' as in a response to something extremely humourous. Given the bizarre nature of the closings, it seems that the latter would be indicated because of the absurdity of the actions.
      That the embassies and consulates might be closed does not necessarily mean that there is a work stoppage. The facilities are just not open to the public. One might see this as a sign to the countries affected that the United States (among other 'Western (imperialist)' nations will not be available to serve anyone, in effect discontinuing access by those who might view the U.S., et al, as conduits to some other objectives such as travel, employment, or some other official capacities. In other words, the message to the countries in which the closures are occurring is: "Either control your people or you can do without us."
      Conversely, this could be a message to the naysayers and would-be prophets of doom (the 'Grand Old Obstructionist Party (GOOP),' e.g.), the intent of which is to show what happens to the U.S. (and other 'Western' nations*) if their missions are idle due to some overreaction to words or actions seen as threatening. Showing what happens when the nations 'wimp out' would be instructive, demonstrating the effects of inactivity or inaction in the face of more pressing issues, most prominently providing essential raison d'être services.
      Any foreigner hailing from countries seen as imposing on the indigenous peoples is at risk and not just at one time each year. Knowing the histories of the 'West' over the course of centuries, there must be a surplus of anniversaries that can be observed with benevolent or violent actions at almost any time. Egyptians on both sides of the coupvolution will recognise the 3rd of July for who knows how long. One can pick any day on any calendar - even to a particular time of day - to recall some event worthy of action. And on any given day and time, the object of veneration or vengeance is vulnerable.
      Work will continue albeit without access to the compounds. Modern electronic technology has allowed people to communicate without having to meet face-to-face. For those of us who have lived in countries experiencing internal difficulties, exercises are conducted periodically to ensure that no one becomes complacent. Whether this time is considered 'for real' or 'pretend' is something we may never know or fully understand. In any case, the emphasis will allow those directly involved to develop information and corresponding policies and procedures for when things become really serious.
      Thomas Paine offered, "The sublime and the ridiculous are often so nearly related, that it is difficult to class them separately. One step above the sublime, makes the ridiculous; and one step above the ridiculous, makes the sublime again."**

      * link to hurriyetdailynews.com
      ** link to en.wikipedia.org

  • Tunisia Plunged into Crisis by Second Political Assassination
    • One wonders if the 'Arab Spring' is naught but a regional 'Autumn,' having experienced an 'Indian Summer,' only now to have become 'Autumn' again before a cold, dark hibernation of 'Winter.' I suppose that it's perilous to identify transitions in politics as 'seasons' as the weather and climate are not always perceived and assessed as easily as they are determined by astronomical regularity or calendrical notations. What may be termed an 'awakening' may have left the roused a bit confused as to actual conditions extant.

  • Obama: "Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago"
    • Having grown up in various different cultures (domestic and foreign), I have found that scrutiny of the unfamiliar is not unusual. Just as Barry O states that something might have befallen him 35 years ago, we find that is not specific to him and many of us have used our 'uniqueness' to our advantage. And, to be sure, obvious differences can be hazardous if one is unaware.

      Even for people who should be 'alike,' there have been problems. We only have to look back a few days to read about Darryl Green of Chicago, Barry O's stomping ground.^

      And, let's not forget the Revvin' Jesse Jackson, who - way back in 1993 - had these words of wisdom: "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery. Then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved.... After all we have been through. Just to think we can't walk down our own streets, how humiliating."*
      Remarks at a meeting of Operation PUSH in Chicago (27 November 1993). Quoted in "Crime: New Frontier - Jesse Jackson Calls It Top Civil-Rights Issue" by Mary A. Johnson, 29 November 1993, Chicago Sun-Times (ellipsis in original).

      And, then, there's Juan Williams who's a little skittish himself: "I'm the father of black young men, and I'm saying that if you saw a couple guys walking around looking like thugs down the street late at night, you're saying, 'Oh, I'm not going to think it through.' Caroline, I think you are way off base."**

      ^ link to inquisitr.com
      * link to en.wikiquote.org
      * link to nytimes.com
      * link to democraticunderground.com
      ** link to bvblackspin.com

  • Middle East Regional Contention over Egypt's New Government
    • One wonders at the purpose of 'allowing' previously marginalised groups to be shown some legitimacy, given some time out of the shadows and into the light just so the 'real' leadership can more clearly identify those who should be vilified and, coincidentally, correspondingly, consequently , identified and removed. The use of some political acceptance can seen a bait for those who are otherwise hunted and eventually lured into traps and killed, either physically or conceptually.
      As we've seen, there have been many arrests of the MB members, ostensibly for complicity in protests.* Yet, one can only wonder what intelligence and information treasures are being mined from those in custody. The MB was never a group that had much political legality until recently, after Mubarak was removed from office.**
      Some reports have indicated that part of Morsi's problem had to do with incompetence and inexperience, something that can only be overcome by being allowed to follow the learning curve to some logical point, conclusively.*** But, this seems to never have been in the cards for the MB as either the peoples' patience was too limited or the learning curve too steep or, just as likely, the MB was the victim of a ruse, a joke played on it with practical implications.

      * link to dw.de
      ** link to en.wikipedia.org
      *** link to newyorker.com

  • Gil Scott-Heron Explains 'The Revolution will not be Televised'
  • Egypt's "Revocouption" and the future of Democracy on the Nile
    • The greatest danger, as I saw the massed throngs of people on Egyptian television, was no one doing anything. With such a large number of people shouting, "Leave!," the danger of nonaction would be too great, turning a largely pacific demonstration into something violent and destructive. So, the will of the people was to have Mursi go, either voluntarily or with assistance. The Army, working as an agent of national security, merely assisted the people in achieving their goal.
      History has been replete with incidents that have placed the leadership at risk, ranging from shoes being thrown at an American pResident to lynching admitted fascists. It is a matter of ensuring that the persons who are expected to exit the public stage do not suffer any indignities that will make them either heroes/heroines or martyrs to anyone's cause. The decision of the Egyptian Army was simple: act now while tempers are cool or act later when things can get really hot and messy, when the average citizens feel compelled to act in unexpected ways, individually or as a mob.
      What was al-Sisi expected to do? Stand idly by until Mursi's ego threw the nation into turmoil? Commit armies to boondoggles that were easily preventable, instead of taking into account the long-term interests and needs of people on both sides of the dispute? Legitimise a long-marginalised group over the overwhelming majority of people whose own legitimacy was evident in their majority, having worked against Mubarek before and Mursi now?
      Both Mursi and al-Sisi have American academic backgrounds and it would be interesting to find out how their experiences in the United States shaped their views of events. The events occurring right at the same time as the celebration of the American Revolution is very much provoking of thought!
      All-in-all, it's a matter of being able to do all of the necessary actions without any significant disturbances that is important at this point. And, the Brotherhood has emerged and perhaps now retreating back into the shaded areas will allow its vision to more adequately adjust to being in the spotlight.

  • How Obama has made Whistleblowers the Flying Dutchmen of the 21st Century (van Buren)
    • It's interesting how school children learn things about the United States and the patriotic acts making our country possible from a young age. However, when these lessons are put into practice, emulating the likes of the Revolutionary War participants, those acting are vilified and put at risk. One wonders if the American Government actually reveres not Paul Revere but Benedict Arnold while hamstrung, eating cheesy eggs on English muffins? Which one is viewed as the patriot and which as the traitor? Perhaps the Brits' dossier dodginess has actually changed the perspective of those who will soon be offering glowing words on the 4th of July. I would suggest that getting cozy with the Perfidious Albionic "cousins" is cozening the Americans of their way of life and its profound cause, history, and institutions.
      We need not wonder too long about who's being unfaithful to their oath and promise. As Mr Van Buren reminds us, Barry O uttered, "“Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government,” Obama then said, “is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism… should be encouraged rather than stifled as they have been during the Bush administration.”"
      As we learned in grade school, Patrick Henry rallied his companions with, "It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace – but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"*
      It is too bad that too many of our too privileged too political lawmakers have never had to be in situations in which they would risk their lives. Too, too, too, too bad, for they might have had their consciences raised, elevated to where they could actually claim to be leaders in the mold of true patriots!

      * link to en.wikipedia.org!

  • Top Ten Ways the Beltway Press will treat Gen. Cartwright differently from Snowden
    • Here we have the old time methods of 'law enforcement,' the most prominent of which is the notion that those most capable of breaking the laws are the ones who are paid to enforce them. It takes a certain talent to be able to finesse the finer points of statutes so that things can be done in a pseudo-legalistic manner. Prison guards employing torture methods that are easily denied or difficultly detected. Cops who can plant evidence (guns, drugs, et cetera) or remove it or even construct a crime scene to effect a desired outcome. Lawyers who are able to interpret the laws in the best possible ways to serve their crooked clients' needs. Judges ... There are many examples of using power or position for personal or political gain, regardless of what's really right.
      When the government makes a series of laws and then is the only entity that is responsible for employing and monitoring them, well, what does one expect? Who's in charge of making sure everything is being done as intended in the correct fashion? The Congress? The politically motivated career personnel within an agency? The curious workers who might have some extra time on their hands and who are not - perhaps - as vigilant in the propriety of the system? Even the most crooked of criminals have insulation between the 'business' and their own sanctity and safety. Laws are skirted or just plainly ignored in the interests of the intended gain.
      Expecting the government to follow the laws is a hopeful or even idealistic outlook. How many cars or houses or other big-ticket items are sold daily based upon their cosmetic appeal while the items themselves are defective or substandard? The objective is always to obtain results, the means by which the ends are attained are justified in ways that may be separate and distinct from what might be considered to be moral or legal or just plain old right. We have a bunch of people in the Congress who are slapping themselves on the back for the castration of DOMA, many of whom voted for it in the first place!+ Huh?
      When a citizen - ostensibly an owner of the government - takes it upon him- or herself to perform any deed in the interests of doing the right thing, conflicts among options to effect conscientiously desirable ends become pronounced. Sure Eddie could've gone through the chain of command to expose wrong-doing but what would the expectation be for immediate and satisfying results? Sibel Edmonds tried this approach and went through hell.* Other whistleblowers have experienced personal and professional deaths as a result of their efforts to right a wrong system. Even being part of the 'free press' has its perils. James Hatfield ran into problems following the publication of his book, 'Fortunate Son.'** Recently, Michael Hastings met his end under less than clear circumstances.*** Cui bono? Those beholding to the American citizenry?
      When the people who pay the bills become the enemies of the State, there is something wrong. The amount of leverage that government agencies try to gain on various citizens is evidence of abuse but, as in the old days of domestic difficulties, it's ignored or excused. The citizen "children" and "spouses" can get verbally accosted and whooped up on with impunity by "Big Daddy Gubmint." One outstanding event in recent history involved actress Jean Seberg who was driven to her death because of an implied association with the Black Panthers and the racial identity of her child.****
      The time has come for the government to do the job it was hired to do, to be "of the people, by the people, and for the people."^ While Barry O is off exploring islands related to slavery (something having NOTHING to do with his own personal history), he might ought to want to invoke the words of the President who presided over the destruction of that 'good ol' boy system' and apply it to the new good ol' days!

      [Starting points]
      + link to reason.com
      * link to justacitizen.com
      ** link to en.wikipedia.org
      *** link to huffingtonpost.com
      **** link to latimesblogs.latimes.com
      ^ link to abrahamlincolnonline.org

  • Top Ten Ways US TV News are Screwing us Again on NSA Surveillance Story (Iraq Redux)
    • A word that comes to mind is "revisionist" ... not only that but another incident that typifies the corporate media, that of the sinking of the Maine in Havana Harbour in 1898.
      "Revisionism," as I understand it, is taking an 'accepted' history and reinterpreting it based upon new evidence and unveiling of facts previously hidden from view.* In the cases of the corporate media, the process is quite advanced, performing the revising coincidentally and almost simultaneously with the occurrence of events. Thought processes are so rigidly formed so as to satisfy the higher echelons within the news organisations, those levels that are better connected to the powers-that-be. Those at the lower rungs of the corporate ladders can either preserve their standings within their respective organisations, OR, risk being relieved of their positions, seeking employment elsewhere (and, at times, outside of the news business). Walking the line might serve in the longer run, perhaps with an expectation of discovering and exposing the next "Watergate" or other career-making story. Sticking around might also be compared to being on flypaper, stuck in one place with nowhere to go until professional death occurs, slowly, predictably.
      The risk that those at Snowden's level take is feeling able to think beyond those with greater knowledge and experience than their 'superiors,' exposing themselves to all kinds of ridicule due to their supposed naivete and youthful overexuberance. The dilemma faced by the older professionals is whether one should sacrifice all of the hard work and lose their position in the promotion/retirement queue or just act conscientiously at the right times. That faced by the youthful is whether to gain standing or cut their lives short.^
      Thus, 'how' the stories are told is important, denying facts outright at the outset in favour of other information that is more appealing to those at the controls of the gravy train, preferring not to derail it lest they become jettisoned "for the good of the organisation." The stories are revised at their conception with these and other notions in mind and in hand.
      And, so, "Remember the Maine!" This was a battleship that was sunk in Havana Harbour in 1898 and was a spark that helped ignite the Spanish-American War.** The irony, of course, is the explosion came INSIDE the U.S. warship just as the source of ignition for the war came from inside the United States.*** "The New York Journal and New York World, owned respectively by William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, gave the Maine intense press coverage, but employed tactics that would later be labeled "yellow journalism." Both papers exaggerated and distorted any information they could attain, sometimes even fabricating "news" when none that fitted their agenda was available." As can be seen, the tactics of the corporate media have not changed, although one would expect with a 'free press' that consciences would be unshackled and able to move about in an unfettered fashion.
      Of course, the time for real historical revisionism will come, but unfortunately, any actions by the government will have become faits accomplis, the historical truths merely allowed for those with curious minds and idealistic thoughts about when the students and readers will be able to set not only the records but the system straight!

      (Note: all references are intended to serve as starting points)
      * link to en.wikipedia.org
      ^ link to rollingstone.com
      ** link to en.wikipedia.org
      *** link to en.wikipedia.org

  • British Gov't Spied on Diplomats at G20 (& on UN before Iraq War)
    • Ha! And Mr Kerry is complaining about the Iranian elections of late, expressing his concern about their fairness. With the total surveillance society, all politicians can expect their communications to be compromised and anything that resembles 'strategic' or 'tactical' thinking can be known by any interested (read: 'opposing') party, even before it becomes public! Any concerns about the Guardian Council's approval processes must be seen either as deceptive or naive in light of the potential fact that the Americans et al also perform their own vetting of political candidates.
      This might send Alex Jones over the Moon, given the basis for and basics of a vast Illuminati conspiracy have an apparently good foundation. We'll just have to see where and when the cobbled cobblers meet the cobblestones! It seems as though this was not done with much forethought of the consequences, regardless of how tasty the morsels of information might have seemed, and - now - it's spread all over the streets where the shoddily shod find their soles in disrepair! Ah, and their souls are in despair!

  • Obama Isolated at G8 on Arms for Syrian Rebels
    • And then there is poor pitiful Sarah (of the Palin-tology preschool of thought), using a somewhat different approach, a slightly modified version of the phrase attributed to Arnaud Amalric, "Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius (Kill them all. For the Lord knoweth them that are His.):" “Both sides, they’re slaughtering each other as they scream over an arbitrary red line, ‘Allah Akbar.’ I say until we have someone who knows what they’re doing, I say, let Allah sort it out.”* And, she offers what real political solutions herself?
      This is rich considering her statement was uttered at the latest Faith and Freedom Coalition Conference which is Ralph Reed's** newest effort to recreate something like the Christian Coalition.*** The Christian Coalition is, as we know, the now fairly defunct remnant of televangelist Pat Robertson's effort to find his way into the Oval Office, with Reed as the founding executive director.
      Once again, the spectre of the religious crusader has arisen, seeking to assert itself as the paragon of American religious fundamentalism, striking at those seen as enemies of the Christian conceit and those who serve its overall purpose (not forgetting those to be involved in the 'end times'). At front is Ms Palin - Sarah the Bearhearted - who serves as the pin-up for the overall movement, adding nothing more than a cosmetic (as opposed to substantive) confection for the festivities, at once harpy and siren, calling the faithful.
      As the Bearhearted one should know, the Syrian issue is a little more complex than some turf feud between families or neighbourhoods. She should know all the more well, given her "Mama Grizzly" self-portrayal, that the Russian Bear is not sitting idly by while some supernatural power makes an accounting. The terrestrial forces are the ones that count and those siding with Assad make the mathematics quite a bit more complicated.
      But, Sarah might be forgiven for this academic lapse, inasmuch as she dislikes the followers of Islam, by whom the term 'algebra' was coined as the "word algebra comes from the Arabic language (الجبر al-jabr "restoration") and much of its methods from Arabic/Islamic mathematics."

      * link to rawstory.com
      ** link to en.wikipedia.org
      *** link to en.wikipedia.org
      **** link to en.wikipedia.org

  • The Emir of Kuwait's War on Twitter
    • Ah, as the worm turns ... Now that they've gotten rid of the hated S. Hussein, the Kuwaitis' focus can narrow, becoming sharper, confronting issues closer to home. All sacrifices made facing a hostile enemy seeking to regain its 19th Province, Kadhima, demand compensation at some point, with the payments becoming a bit unsettling when the leaders are presented with the summary.
      Yes, Kuwait (or, Kadhima) allowed the Emir with his politics, and policies to exist and survive if only to establish a unity against a common foe. Yet, the flaws in the Emirate haven't magically repaired themselves and must be addressed at an appropriate time which, apparently, is now.
      And, so, we see the consequences of removing a 'devil' that was well-known without considering the bargains made with the genies released who seek what is owed, their granting of wishes well received. Becoming free from one who would impose some sort of imperial rule has its price and the genies are not going back into the lamp. The spirits of liberty have amazed their corporeal audiences, exciting them for more and greater wonders.
      The more mundane and temporal powers have only begun to contemplate the costs of THEIR freedom, something that seemed appealing until enlightened, learning that the expectation of a broader freedom is yet unrealised. Whether Egypt or Libya or Turkey or Syria or Iraq or Bahrain, or, now, Kuwait, the musculature of freedom is being stretched after an extended period of paralytic inactivity.
      The ruling classes should realise their limits, finding themselves not so powerful as they had been led to believe. Their fears become restless, revealed by an incapacity to foretell the effects and consequences of the erosion of absolute control over information and, by extension, the lives, minds, and thoughts of the subjugated. It must be unsettling to realise that the genies (energised by modern technology) are not on the side of the traditionally powerful, instead favouring those in whose minds spirits can feel more at home. The genies know all too well that - when confined - the lamps of Truth were never lit.
      The questions yet unanswered? How many wishes did the genies grant? To whom?

  • Sen. Rand Paul: Snowden's 'Civil Disobedience' seeks "to defend the Fourth Amendment"
    • Now, there's an ironic coincidence: Rand talking about spying and how he's gonna trap the spies while in the little box on the lower right-hand side is an alert about window washers trapped, they who can see all and decide who else sees well!
      Yet, it will be interesting to see if Snowden becomes a victim of extrajudicial termination (not much differently than a drone-struck foe) in retribution for his extralegal exposure of (already well-known) nefarious government activities. Now, we get to see Spy vs Spy* in action! And, what? Me worry?

      * link to en.wikipedia.org

  • Great Moments in Police Clearing of Protesters: Zucotti Park, Nov. 15, 2011 (Democracy Now! Video)
  • Top Ten Ways the US Government will Smear, Slight Whistleblower Edward Snowden
    • Further on down the road, it will come to pass that the notion of contracting or subletting the functions of government to outside agencies will be seen as a grave error.@ As we know, the limits of governmental oversight are tested when 'civilians' are given the opportunities to do what was traditionally civil service or military in nature. Consequently, agents of conscience have an easier time "going rogue" than those with a life-long commitment to an organisation or to a career track. People who are more prone to standing by their principles are much more of a risk to the overall objective of the "team" than those who feel some kinship or deep affinity for that part of the system into which they have insinuated themselves.
      We might desire many of the elected officials to have "Bulworth" moments, times when they set aside the accepted talking points and status quo in order to utter the unvarnished (perhaps even roughly hewed) truth just as a matter of conscience and personal integrity. This might be seen as a breath of fresh air in the otherwise oppressive staleness and humidity of discourse but - depending on the level at which it occurs - it might be just as powerful as an Oklahoma tornado, causing the removal of too many sacrosanct structures upon which too many people rely for stability and consistency.
      Young Mr Snowden perhaps sees himself as a latter-day Daniel Ellsberg* or John Dean** who displayed, as Ellsberg stated yesterday, "the kind of courage that we expect of people on the battlefield." As Mr Graham from South Carolina has uttered, we are at war; the only question that remains is who the combatants are and which side should anyone be on. While Barry O has stated that the NSA does not spy on Americans, the governments that are set apart from the people have their own alliances. And, who's not to say that the Americans share information with the Brits, e.g., who in turn give the "American" government information on its own citizens? Thus, the notion of internal spying and warring is rendered null ... sort of.
      Many of us served to defeat the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War, serving to bring down the forces of totalitarianism, one such being the East German Stasi.*** We know all to well what kind of 'war' the benevolent politicians of the GDR waged on their own people! What is reprehensible is that those in the Bush41 administration who couldn't decide how to maintain a robust military following the defeat of the "East" engendered a transformation of the American governments into the very foes we once fought, manufacturing enemies against whom the military is pitted in an imperial fashion to reorder the World in ways that the one-time Commies could only fantasise about.
      Young Mr Snowden may be vilified and made into the new poster boy-demon for national security. The possible outcome of all of this will be to use him as an excuse to further increase the size of the government to bring functions and tasks BACK into the civil or military service. This would, thereby, serve to provide increased pressure upon employees or members in ways that young Bradley Manning knows all-too-well. The threat of personal disgrace and national shame will be drilled into every person involved to the point of hardly ever being able to resist the machinations of government for fear of losing personal status and security and all of the other needs identified by Maslow and others.**** Principal trumps principle.
      And, so, the next stage of regression that will be touted as 'progression' may be whittling the contractor force down or passing laws that will - in effect - make the employees liable to increasingly severe penalties through allegiance to the system rather than the Constitution. Given the state of the economy and budgetary concerns, the most effective methods with the least expense should be chosen. Does anyone feel a draft?

      @ link to globalpost.com
      * link to npr.org
      ** link to en.wikipedia.org
      *** link to en.wikipedia.org
      *** link to en.wikipedia.org
      **** link to en.wikipedia.org

  • Defiant Erdogan Risks Turkish Economy, as Unions enter the Fray
    • I thought it telling that Erdoğan has nixed the Ottoman barracks project in favour of a mosque.* This might signal an even more stretched reach to the past and its traditions with a religious flavour if not fervor. Any demonstration against some religious edifice might be seen as being sacrilegious, an easier form of dissent to counter and to provide support for condemnation, for those who might be seen as condemning the nation. In the comments to the first linque, "DutchTurk" mentions the increase in mosques (including the reopening of 'Aya Sofya') in a slightly condescending manner. There are almost 3,000 mosques in Istanbul (5,343 km sq & 2,593 people/km sq) now.** Others are being built or modified.***

      I also thought it laughable that the U.S. Government is concerned about the use of force in quelling the protests in Taksim. I don't recall such expressions for citizen safety during the run-up to the Iraqally Debacally. In fact, the American paramilitary police force in Oakland, CA (Governor Jerry Brown's former posting as mayor in 2003), for example, did something quite similar when confronting those in dissent of the impending invasion of Iraq.@ It's interesting how another country's problems serve as excuses to whitewash the same issues at home.

      * link to hurriyetdailynews.com
      ** link to en.wikipedia.org
      ** link to hurriyetdailynews.com
      *** link to hurriyetdailynews.com
      @ link to commondreams.org

  • Taksim Square Protests in Turkey Spread to other Cities, Police accused of Brutality
    • There is some news traffic via Facebook. Otherwise, here is a linque to the Hurriyet Daily News out of Istanbul that has coverage of the events fully on the front page. Taksim is kind of hard to avoid or ignore at this point.
      [American] link to hurriyetdailynews.com
      [Turkish] link to hurriyet.com.tr
      In my past experience, the Turks don't mess around. Living there from '53 to '56 and again from '58 to '62, it was a fairly ordered society that was not shy about calling out the Army as needed (as when a coup occurred in '60 (among other times)). The Ankara newspaper showed the eventual aftermath with the coup leaders on the gallows, obviously a statement of warning to the people that this was a potential fate for those who might seek a similar means of political change. We were confined to our housing for the duration of the emergency with Turkish soldiers stationed at the corners / intersections. Again, the government (and its military support) doesn't fool around when it comes to maintaining order although the actual sources of power may have shifted over time.*
      Given that the country maintains the 2nd largest armed forces in NATO, the military is pivotal in a region that has seen so many problems in the countries surrounding it, from the Soviet Union to Iraq, Iran, Syria, the Balkans, among other states carved out of its former Ottoman Empire. Should Turkey become unstable, the adverse effects thereof would become incalculable with the rise of Islamicist influences and consequential internal struggles that might render the country impotent to meet its obligations, not least of all is its homage to former imperial glory.
      Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has an interesting tightrope act, trying to balance himself while juggling his supporters, the military, and his detractors domestically and amusing those who are in the international arena, not least of all the tourists who find all sorts of intrigue, imaged and real, in Istanbul.

      * link to economist.com

  • The Coming Israeli-Russian War?
  • Sen. Inhofe: "When a Disaster Occurs in America... Everyone ... wants to pour Money on'em"
    • What the Oklahoma Senators are not addressing is the amount of money that their state actually does get from the Federal Government year after year. We know that everything is "OK" in Oklahoma when it comes to tax considerations on oil among other resources, i.e., recipients of front-loaded corporate welfare. They are also on the dole for various other Federal programmes that put it in the top fifteen (for the year reported) in terms of Federal assistance overall.

      The state's economy has been based on petroleum for about a century and a half or so.
      link to digital.library.okstate.edu

      The state enjoys benefits from depletion allowances.
      link to legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com
      link to thinkprogress.org
      link to americanprogress.org

      The state is also the beneficiary of other Federal asssistance, putting it at 14th (out of 50) reported at the end of 2012.
      link to texaspolicy.com

      Yes, Senator Inhofe, Oklahoma does get some Federal help. Is this the reason "why" you feel some humility about asking for more for Moore?

  • How America Became a Third World Country (Kramer & Comerford)
    • 'Twould be interesting if the United States ever became a "Third World" country, given that it would have fallen from the "First World" to that of a non-aligned nation.*/** The suggestion that a "Third World" nation is not advanced has much to do with how post-WW2 nations not part of the "First" or "Second Worlds" were viewed as ideological (or illogical) battlegrounds. Ideologies became the defining factor for division and categorisation, not necessarily economic or technological standing, however coincidental. If that had been the case, various and many parts of each of the "First" and "Second Worlds" would have qualified as being "Third World," most notably rural communities that had a lack of priority for electrification, telephonication, transportation, and other "modern" advances.
      We might view the United States as the premier and primary country in terms of revolution, always at the ready to transform itself in terms of how it sees itself and changes accordingly. The unfortunate thing about revolutions is that they are unpredictable, making planning and programming difficult even in the best of times with the best of minds. Various plans and programmes are thought to be viable and worth investment, and, upon maturation, they appear to have been juvenile at best. This is - of course - the curse of youthful thinking for all times and places.
      We can see this at work each and every day in the market place with each passing fad, every retail outlet representing merely unused garbage and unrecyclable waste. Nevertheless, people are caused to voice their approval for an almost unlimited number of choices, as much for kinds of toothpaste as for social and national programmes as for ideas that consume the fruits of peoples' labours, their values and incomes, susceptible to becoming negative. Thus, power projection is based on this sort of attitude about Life, that of attempting to force the experiences and experiments of change upon others, near and far, hither and yon, here and there ... everywhere. As the little breathless kid (the paradigm of the consumer mentality) on the AT&T commercial makes clear: everything is about more. Even the odd fellow who is the group leader (and paradigm for learning and wisdom) has no insights to offer beyond encouraging behaviours that avoid intelligent and deliberate thinking and acting.
      The United States as a "Third World"country? One can only dream! As nonaligned, the country as a whole can turn inward to solve its most pressing problems rather than projecting them onto others who fail to understand their significance, first, and, second, to have any need for them. The Trillion$ spent on World dominance can be retained at home to make a country that is truly something of which to be proud, at which others can marvel and try to emulate. Creating havoc in neighbours' properties only causes the perpetrators to assume responsibility for any adverse outcomes, rendering the initiators increasingly impotent at home before becoming so abroad. The next phase of the American Revolution should be interesting ... removing all of the negative values and deficits of wisdom, allowing a more mature and responsible introspection and outlook.

      *http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_world#History
      **http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Worlds_Theory

  • The Great Benghazi Conspiracy and Republican Forgeries
    • One has to find remarkable the incompetence of the Republicans in their sourcing and reporting of facts. In the aftermath of Benghazi and in the midst of the "investigation," we've seen Rumsfeld and Cheney (Jon Stewart's 'Tweedlerum and Tweedledick') making incredible statements about the Libyan event while assuming that everyone has forgotten about Iraq and all of the hype leading up to THAT egregious failure.
      How is it that the Republicans cannot field anyone with a smattering of innate intelligence to administer the United States government? We know that many of the states that elect Republicans are well below any acceptable standard for education, so, that's one excuse ... er ... rationale ... er ... reason, not having a literate voter base, believing in the political messiahs and their own lying eyes rather than making decisions based on studying the issues (but this can be worked for both parties).
      Even at the highest levels of the Republican hierarchy, those selected as Presidential candidates (since at least Ronald Reagan) are obviously impaired in terms of temperament or personal histories. It is increasingly apparent that the GOP is intent on slowly poisoning itself, their collective souls committing a gradual death by pursuing spectres, ghosts, and phantoms from the depths of the darkness in which they have begun to be forever lost ... and, even as they exist in their zombie forms, forgotten.

  • Is it Racism? Why did we Ignore New Orleans but obsess about Boston?
    • I had some thoughts on the article about 'racism' provided by Informed Comment and written by Anne-Ruth Wertheim. It's not just about different 'races' (after all, there is one 'race,' the Human race). It may be true that there are innumerable instances of Europeans going to other nations and subjugating the indigenous, giving rise to the perception of 'race' inequality simply because the Europeans (and their derivatives) have certain standards of living that are ingrained in their cultures or adopted after they understand the opportunities for acquiring an appearance of superiority once they can take advantage of other nations' seeming inferiority.
      If we choose a country to observe, we can look at the historical British who have been known to venture forth from their little island to seek fame and fortune in other parts of the World, on Crusades throughout the centuries. But, at home, their attitudes are not much different except that it's not as exciting or exotic as Calcutta or Baghdad or Cairo or anywhere that stimulated the imaginations of generations past. One might look simply at Christie's Hercule Poirot, a Belgian expatriate who lived in Jolly Olde England and served to solve crimes among the upper crust as described by his chronicler. While the settings were indeed among the affluent and otherwise posh segment of society, one merely has to look at the supporting cast to see that 'racism' doesn't exist as much as the differentiation of classes, those supporting the main characters who are cleaning, cooking, gardening, and doing other mundane chores to make the gentlemen and ladies of the manor look ever brilliant. When taken abroad, the same standards are imposed on the locals, perhaps with senses of frustration in that the Indians or Iraqis or Egyptians or whohaveyou haven't had the same breeding as the homogeneous Brits.
      Ergo, a certain sense of frustration emerges, revealed in the locals' treatment and care, their 'races' only important as a person's title or rank might be among the Crusaders, 'race' being an obvious and convenient way of differentiation. And, of course, when we note the lower classes of the imperialists, those who would seek to emulate their masters and mistresses, we observe an even more pronounced sense of frustration, compounded by the lack of social standing and education along with an inability to get their 'employees' to adequately participate in the charade.
      The difference between Boston and N'Orleans can be seen in a similar light, accentuated by the fact that Boston was overtly about 'race:' it was a marathon, the participants of which have so much free time to be able to train and condition their bodies for a grueling two, three, or four hour race of over 26 miles. N'Orleans, on the other hand, had a Mother's Day celebration attended by those who had no particular need for extensive preparation other than a long-standing tradition of expressing the soul of their community. Those in Boston were upwardly and outwardly mobile while those in N'Orleans were moving a bit more slowly with no particular places to go.
      Thus, the statement made by Mr Cole cuts to the chase: "So wall to wall coverage of the shootings in New Orleans would be far more pertinent to far more Americans and their actual social problems than the fetishization of foreign terrorism."
      The real terrorism in and against the United States has become clearer with the acute changes in social status among its citizenry, more and more similar to Christie's settings for her stories. We now have the newly identified "1%" whose wealth matches how much of that of those below them? The sense of entitlement must correspond to the amount of disposable income compared to that of "99%," requiring those at the lower rungs to be beholding to the more fortunate. A tragedy happening to the "1%" is much more engaging because it's easier to bury similar events in the vastly larger numbers of the "99%."
      And, what is the recourse taken to demonstrate some sort of 'equality,' whether by the 'terrorists' or other criminal elements? Expressing frustrations through violent acts to protest the policies of the governments' actions, either on a global or a local scale? Using a pressure cooker or a gun to effect some sort of shock to the public sensibilities? The differences can be seen if only by looking at who is expressing their inner angst, not only how. Perhaps the Tsarnaev fellows were driven by their perceptions of how the "West" views the Muslim parts of the World (something that has been centuries in the making and in endurance). Perhaps the Scott fellow was motivated by the real terrorist threat throughout the United States, that of localised gang warfare, an emulation of the larger wars perpetrated on those seen as being of infinitely less value.
      Showing the clean avenues of Boston then at the worn and dilapidated streets of N'Orleans highlights what the broader viewing audience would like to see. Providing images of fit and healthy athletes is much more appealing and uplifting than any shown of the average neighbourhood fellow, Mr Hickman, sitting on his stoop. When we watch the N'Orleans video, the conditions are striking with litter and stains and chipped paint and weeds. Yet, without thinking about his appearance or how he speaks, Mr Hickman is no less eloquent in his perceptions of what had transpired, whether pertaining to N'Orleans OR to Boston.

  • Top Ten Republican Myths on Libya
    • One of the more bizarre statements I heard was from Dick "5 Deferments" Cheney who stated that 'they' were always ready on 9-11, at least the anniversaries.* It's interesting that 'they' would be emphatically ready on the anniversaries while every other day would be less dangerous. For those of us who spent time overseas in uniform, EVERY day was a day to be ready, all political actions and consequences being local, right down to the individual persons' survival.
      With the fluid - even gaseous - environments created by removing the old-line strongmen, it seems entirely possible that any day is a good day to make into a new anniversary, knowing that certain days - the acknowleged 'anniversaries' - would provide less potential for success, especially a day in honour of another date that caught the "Deserter" and "Draft-Dodger" in chiefs flatfooted. We cannot forget that the actions taken by these two 'individuals' made it quite attractive to activists around the World to attack Americans whenever and wherever the opportunities presented themselves.
      I hope the House committee sees Benghazi as only one aspect of administrations' failures to secure overseas missions and delegations. We cannot forget that B43 had some gaps (for explanations) in his preparations, most notably on 11th September 2001, when the usual suspects were blamed for what became an urban renewal project for NYC. In total, B43 had no less than 13 "Benghazis" while he was supposedly making the World safe from terrorism.** As Bob Cesca writes, 'Also, my list above doesn't include the numerous and fatal attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad during the Iraq war -- a war that was vocally supported by Lindsey Graham, John McCain and Fox News Channel.' Another list provides some information on attacks on Americans during the B43 years, most of them in countries under control of governments friendly to the United States. We can count from 2001 to early 2009 to see the extent.^
      What we can see from this latest round of hearings is a Republican effort to damage the American political system by smearing Hillary Clinton firstly, a person who some believe to be the Presidential successor to Obama. Additionally, it can be seen as a means to whitewash or revise history in the Republicans' favour by making an exaggerated issue of Benghazi while minimising the mistakes, misdeeds, missteps, misunderestimatings, and mish-mosh of American foreign policies between Januarys 2001 and 2009. It seems that they hope to pick the ripe fruit from the tree while ignoring how much has been left to rot.
      This is not to say that something like Benghazi is 'acceptable.' On the contrary, it is another example of American imperial overreach wherein any chance to bolster their standing among their own people will be taken by those opposed to American policies. As I write, American forces are preparing for evacuation efforts to begin, removing U.S. assets from Libya in case there is another convenient opportunity seen by national demonstrators to mount an attack, most likely because they can and will.*** As can be seen in any mob actions, disturbances will be caused with hopes of at least one of them seeming to be the voice of a reasonable people and, therefore, emerge as an alternative to the established leadership. And, so, is it hard to mistake the actions of unruly Libyans or Syrians with those of the Republicans?

      * link to rawstory.com
      ** link to huffingtonpost.com
      ^ link to infoplease.com
      *** link to stamfordadvocate.com

  • ReOrienting the Veil (Gökariksel)
    • There was a time in the "West's" recent past when head wear was almost mandatory for all people, whether hats for men and women or scarves for women (and not just to hide the curlers). These were times, after all, when elaborate hair styles required some protection from the elements (e.g., wind, rain, et cetera). Even today, some "Christian" sects still wear something on the order of a scarf (e.g., the Amish 'koppa').
      We have to remember that clothing items are fashion statements. The origins of many garments become clouded over time, subject to interpretations made in the present while having little correspondence with what they meant in the past.^ For example, Sabine Enderwitz asserts in her article, "The Headscarf Is Not the Headscarf," that 'Despite being governed by Islam, peasant and Bedouin women neither wore head-to-foot veils, nor were they locked away in harems. Wearing the full veil was a prerogative of city-dwelling women from the upper classes; a status symbol that attracted the envy of those less privileged than themselves.'* Now, how many cultures have people in the lower classes who express envy of those situated more highly on the social ladders, only to adopt some form of those trappings as part of everyday living? In the "West," for example, white wedding dresses were emulations not of some sort of purity but of the fashion statement begun by Queen Victoria at her marriage to Prince Albert in 1840.** Similarly, the "Christian" tradition of putting up trees each December is most likely derived from an earlier Pagan belief and popularised by, guess who? Queen Victoria, albeit indirectly.***
      Discussions about fashion and other essential trappings adopted by cultures are interesting. However, one cannot credibly become engaged by these subjects without having the adequate history or traditions behind them. It's interesting that people of all cultures crave some sort of sense of freedom through outward expression, usually through modifications to their appearances. While an Ann Coulter might adopt a somewhat skeletal expression, others go far beyond her 'norm' in order to achieve their freedoms, becoming self-indulgent shoe fetishists and or even clothing fanatics, after the fashion of Boy George or Ru Paul. People find, as we note in the Tarot Devil card, freedom in fetters. People have been killed for their looks (bringing a twist to the phrase, "If looks could kill..."), for no other reason than they "looked different."#

      ^ link to scarves.net
      * link to en.qantara.de
      ** link to en.wikipedia.org
      *** link to en.wikipedia.org
      # link to en.wikipedia.org

  • Fisk on Syria and Stenography "Journalism" (Democracy Now! Video)
    • This was a good interview. Always like(d) Fisk and his writings. That he would go where (apparently) no other 'Westerners' would go demonstrates a search for The Truth instead of a variation of what the powers-that-be ("Hearstians?") would pass off as an accepted/acceptable 'truth.' You'd think that after so many years, people would "remember the Maine."

  • China and the Israel-Palestine Conflict: Enter the Dragon?
    • I would suggest that China's interests in the regional affairs stem from their commitment to a secure Iran in terms of what the Iranian oil and gas fields can provide. As China grows economically, this becomes an existential issue, requiring hydrocarbons to fuel their growth (or demise, as we've seen in the Peking pollution)(and the rumours of a shift of the capital to a new location therefore*). China, as we should know, thinks in ages, not mere generations.

      To have the oil-producing region become engulfed in flames means for them to have to participate in an even greater role as combatant, something the Chinese could probably do but would choose not to for any number of reasons, among them recollections of what the last World war and its aftermath was like for them. Calling the leaders of the long-standing conflict in Palestine to talks over the past few days signals - perhaps, guessing only at the substance of the talks - a sort of "come to Confucius" meeting so that the 'flint' and 'steel' can be kept separate lest they spark war and corresponding conflagration.

      Putting Iran at the centre of any attacks or wars at this time imperils imperial China's goals. At certain points, the Chinese will determine if they need to act militarily to defend their investments and de facto territories within the borders of Iran.**/*** The comparatively minuscule issues at the source of ignition are much more easily resolved through prevention than having to act after the firestorm has erupted.

      * link to businessinsider.com
      ** link to en.wikipedia.org
      *** link to ireport.cnn.com

  • The Conservative Logic of Ferguson's Smears of Gays, Muslims, Obama and Krugman
    • Wouldn't it be prudent for Fergie to provide some peer-reviewable study or paper attesting to the validity of his assertions? Attacking a person's personal life to weaken a professional stance is a well-worn tactic, intended to obfuscate the truth of a person's public standing by exaggerating personal foibles, quirks, or tendencies.

      It may be true that Keynes was inclined to favour persons of his own gender for various activities or pursuits or companionships but, like Oscar Wilde and various others, the strength of one's career objectives can be independent of what one does in one's own domicile while attired in pajamas and fluffy bunny slippers. We have yet to determine whether anything in Fergie's personal life reinforces or detracts from any of his positions.

      While many people are childless, either by choice or natural selection, it can also indicate a favourable tendency toward ensuring that those who do have children are successful in their endeavours. But, one can argue that those with children are arrogantly egotistical and are intent on perpetuating their own selves, irrespective of their actual worth and value to society's needs.

      While remaining without issue, those who do have families are (hopefully) contributing to the life and sustainability of a culture, one aspect of which can be development and proof of economic theory. Without sufficient data (and Fergie seems to not have much to support his gaffe), data spread over generations, the validity of one's thoughts cannot be thought of as having any enduring value or applicability to any society's history. Books written can be similarly evaluated. Are they merely for the authors' expression of egotism and selfish worth, or, are they primarily intended to benefit others? I suppose that the test of time will determine whose thoughts will endure, Keynes' or Fergie's.

      But, again, it would be interesting if Fergie was to provide everyone with a published analysis of his position(s). Might keep him out of trouble.

  • Why Obama doesn't want to intervene in Syria
    • Do the various cultures in which the U.S. has become militarily involved have histories of stability without some form of 'strongman' leadership? Other than shows of force that become - for the Americans and their efforts - enervating and eventually exhausting, requiring the emergence of another 'strongman'?

  • Top Ten Problems in South Carolina Lindsey Graham should worry more about than Benghazi
    • South Carolina has been of interest to me for quite a while, stimulated by Mr Graham's activity in the U.S. Government and the position of power he has sought or acquired. I first recall him during his participation in the House of Representatives' impeachment proceedings against Bill Jeff Blythe IV Clinton somewhere back around 1998. At the time, I listened to Mr Graham's statements during a hearing and thought it appropriate to write a little note to him, sharing my thoughts. In short, I suggested to him that getting all riled up about the issue was not much different than being on a South Carolina beach in a vehicle and then trying to get off of the sandy surface by revving the engine and spinning one's tires to the point of only getting dug in more deeply the harder one tried to extricate one's self.
      What I was ignoring was who Mr Graham was talking and answering to when he was performing his duties as a Representative. Since then, I have used South Carolina as a kind of benchmark in my readings and studies, one that puts the state at the bottom of the lists when compiling significant data, just as Mr Cole has done in his article above. But: I always keep in mind the people who make up the voting age population in South Carolina and what they represent ... or, in many cases, resent, given that they were at the forefront of a civil war some years ago, one that was not decided in their favour.
      One area on which I have focused all the while has been education, beginning with high school graduation. Over the years, South Carolina's graduation rate has improved but was dismal for many years, reported in 2005 to be 55.6% which is a vast improvement over 2001 when it was 50.8%.*
      That statistic tells us that almost 1 in 2 people couldn't handle four years of academic preparation, sufficient even enough to join the American military. In recent years, this number has improved. In 2010, the rate was reported as slightly over 72%, much better than years before.** Still, 28% of the applicable population is still below the standard required for upward progress.
      Another interesting feature of South Carolina is its acceptability as the location for a group known as "Christian Exodus," 'founded in November of 2003 in response to the moral degeneration of American culture, and the rampant corruption among the powers that be.'^ Now, I am all for supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States and the freedoms guaranteed thereunder. Yet, one has to wonder 'why' South Carolina was chosen as the promised land for fundamentalists. I will let the organisation do its own justification but they do state that 'Christian Exodus members who have moved to the area appreciate the culture, climate, and lower cost of living.'^^
      Mr Graham comes from this state. As a native, he knows the demographics and what appeals to the people who will vote for him at election time. Thus, he is able to tune his message to be most pleasant to those whose ears are listening. But, I wonder about all of those people who will never achieve the lofty heights that he has, beginning with being a high school graduate followed by obtaining a college degree before passing the bar, using his professional degree to obtain commission in the U.S. Air Force.
      Does the climate and culture preferred by the fundamentally religious include having a pool of people who are denied the same levels of educational equality found in other states, making them more susceptible to accepting a 'Kingdom' and becoming its obliging serfs? How will being unable to achieve the most basic level of education allow them to pursue goals of eradicating the woes having befallen the state of South Carolina as a whole? How is it that leaders elected from there can presume to have answers to national and international issues?

      * link to edweek.org
      ** link to ed.sc.gov
      ^ link to christianexodus.org
      ^^ link to christianexodus.org

  • Bush and the American Right Wing: Top Ten Ways they are Like the Children of an Alcoholic
    • Early on into Bush43's first term, there were many several articles that dealt with his on-going alcoholism. While not in an active state, he exhibited learned behaviours, very much pronounced and evident. The articles were written by persons with an appropriate background in the studies of human weaknesses, substance abuse among them.
      The so-called "right wing" became the party (!) of B43's codependents long before he even became the purported governor of Texas (the Texas governor being of a different, lesser level of power than other states' chief executives, essentially in the hands of caretakers*). Once he became a political player, the party and family cronies rallied and closed ranks. Now that he's an "ex," there are enough of his minders left to suggest that his behaviours (reinforced by their continuing support) were and are justifiably valid.
      I had to chuckle when seeing Bill Jeff Blythe IV Clinton there ... and what he probably had to say to those who still cling to his own redeemed self. And, and even broader grin came to my face when reading that Mrs B41 stated that there had been enough Bushes in the White House (sorry, John Ellis).
      It's a motley crew that shows up for these affairs, given that B41 was in on the moves to keep Jimmy from getting a second term and Bill Jeff returned the favour by limiting B41 to a single term. And then there was Barry. But: they all belong to a very exclusive club, limited to only 44 people in the whole history of the United States, and only - what? - five of them still able to move (mostly) under their own power.
      Nevertheless, we can now look at B43 in context of a building instead of a person. Jon Stewart made some telling comments about the event and what it represents.** Yet, the whole eight years has been reduced to a solid, immovable structure that has been designed and constructed to reflect a particular mindset (in the sense of dense concrete). This is similar to the stretch of highway somewhere in Dallas named after B43, the George Bush Center for Intelligence, and, not least interesting, the J. Edgar Hoover Building with its 'Brutalist' style.~ It will be up to the political archaeologists to make sense of the historical value of what has been done - again - for B43 and others, whether or not their edifices will go the way of the JEHB and fall into decay and be eventually abandoned. What has yet to be revealed is whether or not George "the Artist" has donated any of the results of his occupational therapy to the facility, making it perhaps somewhat more human and living, although remaining without maturity.^
      A question does arise, though: "Who would go to SMU for a visit?" This is in view of the choice of this private institution and ignoring B43's alma maters, Yale and Harvard. Would it have to do with the school's 'colours,' Harvard Crimson, Yale Blue?^^ Was that as close as he was allowed to come?

      * link to mindwanderingsinsanantonio.blogspot.com
      ** Mediaite linque link to bit.ly
      ^ link to georgewbushlibrary.smu.edu
      ^^ link to en.wikipedia.org
      ~ link to en.wikipedia.org
      link to en.wikipedia.org

  • Jesus and Muhammad and the Question of the State
    • It's hard to use thinkers and religious figures of the past (and, even those of the present for the same reasons). Inasmuch as they had limited contact with groups beyond their experience, the ability to effectively communicate was (and is) most often hindered by limitations of cultural differences and disinclination to becoming immersed in the ways of groups foreign to them. Bringing the past to present, especially over hundreds or thousands of years, loses much of the times and the times' context when utterances or sermons or lectures are lost. We have this currently when confronted by the newsies who use various 'soundbites' or 'quotations' or interpretations thereof in attempts to move their agendas in particular direction.
      I saw a movie yesterday about Oscar Wilde (coincidentally, entitled "Oscar Wilde" [1960]), starring Robert Morley in the title role. Wilde was intent upon suing his friend's (Alfred "Bosie" Douglas') father, John Douglas, 9th Marquess of Queensberry* (yes, THAT Marquess of Queensbury) for libel. During questioning, Wilde had a difficult time being able to keep his own damaging writings in a context that did not reveal him as anyone more than a fount of witticisms. In short, his own arrogance and simplistic view of the original ‘essence’ of the lettres between himself and another man resulted in a profound set of errors.** Wilde, ever the glib one with words, was unable to keep them within the scope of their meaning to a larger audience, especially one that had the resources to arrive at a greater sense of Truth, that of the court of law opposed to the court of public opinion that had held him in delusion for so long.
      When using isolated quotations from any text, one has to always keep the context in mind. That the Middle Eastern fellow who has been held responsible for beginning a Worldwide religious revolution (i.e., the Nazarene "Jesus") may have said a lot of things, some of which the early Church elders in North Africa (at the Synod of Hippo Regius and the Councils of Carthage***) may have thought superfluous to their collective religious perspective. As we know, there are other documents that were unintentionally lost for centuries, only later to be found hidden away in pottery. How much was added for purposes of literature, one might never know (after all, the Four Gospels were written well after the Nazarene's death, et cetera).
      Nevertheless, what has been accepted as 'gospel' was conceived in times that were not necessarily concurrent with the events described, losing the essential flavours and scents of the times. As with Wilde, trying to convey some meaning of his words in relation to the times in which they were first put to paper even presented the author with unforeseen difficulties, despite his having been at all events of his Life, libertine and literary. Suggesting that the Nazarene "did not come to bring peace, but a sword" must be taken immediately in context of what was written just before: "Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you."**** These are not the words of someone trying to incite rebellion, other than the kind that involved a shift in paradigm and then only for a certain group: "Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel."****
      As with all shifts, upheavals are bound to occur, either spiritually or tectonically. In any event, shifts can be unsettling, leading many to any number of interpretations - philosophical, spiritual, or scientific. At the precise moments when all are seen as calamitous, we must strive to hold on to the facts for, "When logic and proportion
      Have fallen sloppy dead And the White Knight is talking backwards And the Red Queen's off with her head
      Remember what the dormouse said Feed your head Feed your head." ! And verifiable facts are the food of Reason.
      Even Hollywood gets it (mostly) right: "Sgt. Joe Friday: 'All we know are the facts, ma'am.' " !!
      Oh, the State? Is that the pen where the 'lost' sheep are eventually collected? To be dipped and shorn and to provide victual for the shepherd whose generosity must be repaid? To be protected from the wolves and other predators that will cut into the shepherds' prosperity and senses of value and worth?

      * link to en.wikipedia.org
      ** Echoing Mr Cole's own phrase above
      *** link to en.wikipedia.org
      **** Matthew 10 (New International Version)
      ! link to azlyrics.com
      !! link to snopes.com

  • CNN Fail: Imaginary "Dark Males," "Accents," and "Arrests" Haunt Reporters
    • Sounds like CNN is intent on not just wounding itself but a self-serving removal of the whole foot below the shin. After the reporting of the First Iraqi Fiasco, during which it had a monopoly on ALL news emanating from the area, it has declined with the numbers of others who have gotten into the cable news game. That said, CNN still deserves some credit for having been (among) the first to provide constant news, without which there might not have been any competition or the emerging variety of sources from which information can be gotten.
      Trying to reclaim ground and glory has its pitfalls but basic, honest, and factual reportage has to be the foundation upon which anyone's reputation must be build. With the increased competition, not only among the networks but throughout the ranks of reporters, the desire to be 'first' among the groups has always been desirable for newshounds, even prior to the advent of the broadcast media. CNN, without its status as the lone 'star' network, must shove and jostle with the others at the information trough in order to get its share, this time the "lyin' share." But: it was NOT alone.
      No longer can it lay claim to that with which the 'Outer Limits' television show once began its programme, in part, "There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission." And it continued ... but unlike the television show, CNN (and its emulators and counterpartners) have never relinquished control at any point. *
      An interesting diagram showing all the participants in the whole news 'fiasco,' entitled "Give It Arrest," was provided by Business Insider at the following linque:
      link to businessinsider.com

      * link to en.wikipedia.org

  • Top Ten Ways Margaret Thatcher's Policies Made our World more Unequal
    • Let's not forget Maggie's role in the First Iraq Fiasco:
      "In the aftermath of Gulf War I, various accounts of what British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had supposedly said to President Bush right after the invasion of Kuwait to stiffen his Ivy League backbone emerged in the press and books about the war. Wagging her finger at the president, the story goes, the “Iron Lady” admonished him, “Remember, George, this is no time to go wobbly.”" *

      Or Second Iraq Fiasco (that sounds like a kiddie tale, 'The Lady and the Tramp'):
      "LADY Thatcher praised President Bush's leadership yesterday and called for the war on terrorism to focus on the "unfinished business" of Iraq." **
      Nice of her to play the cheerleader (minus the pleated skirt, lettre sweater, and pom-poms). And, like all the other wars the Brits liked so much that they had to share with the Americans, she rode pretty much for free.

      * link to hnn.us
      ** link to telegraph.co.uk

  • The Real Reason for Climate Change Denial: Oil Cos. Would lose 60% of their Value
    • And "Oil" is not even the end-user ... people have long-since become accustomed to their cars and other conveyances that their investments ($ and emotional) would give the nations extreme withdrawal symptoms. There are the car companies, tire manufacturers, service stations, convenience stores, road maintenance workers, hotels/motels, and who knows how many more businesses that depend upon oil as a commodity in its various refinements. Buses, light rail, bicycles, and other mass transit options are all but ignored as other crises (like the prices of gasoline) obscure!

  • UN, Host Countries, Running out of money for Syria Refugee Relief
    • Cynically, one wonders what Mad Maddy Albright would have to say about this, whether the cost in human lives is worth the efforts to 'free' Syria from Assad and his government. Assad, reportedly, sort of expected this, a demonstration of the effects of 'freedom' on the people, freedom (and the gaining thereof) being not as pleasant as living under his authoritarian regime.
      Interesting to note that Bashar is a medical doctor with a specialty in ophthalmology, the latter courtesy of the Brits. One wonders about the existential views of a medical practitioner with experience in the Syrian army coupled with a perspective gained from living among those who operated on the Middle East with such surgical precision as to make Frankenstein's monster look utterly adorable. Assad's vision might just be a little keener than the do-goody-two-shoesers and their surrogates in the efforts to further ruin another part of the Middle East.

  • How the Pentagon Helped Make Afghanistan the Most Corrupt Country on Earth (Hiro)
    • And, then, there's the opium ... how many addicts reaped the 'benefits' of making Afghanistan into a 'built nation,' courtesy of Godfather Don (or is that redundant, 'Don' Don?)?

      link to en.wikipedia.org

  • Why this and not that? America's topsy turvy priorities
    • "This" is the ideal; "that" is the personal (political, social, religious, whathaveyou) expression. Petraeus was the ideal before he became the person(able) that people didn't expect to know. His warring was done with the best of ideal intentions before the grit and grime of the environmental factors became overwhelming; Iraq's a mess. The thing we learn when going into the military is that the generals put their pants on the same way as the lowest enlisted person. Their uniforms always look perfect but they all start out the same way. The ideal is to become (like) a general but getting bogged down in the details can be too limiting.

      The problem with the United States' leadership is not keeping the ideal in mind when executing their policies, when they become all-too-personal. Being right should be at the forefront of every decision and every corresponding and resulting action. Unfortunately, things don't always work out and then diversions become more and more pronounced before they are the norm. As we've seen with Iraq, "right" might have been some Arabian Night dream of rescuing the demographic in distress but the leaders had to have lost their focus while on their magic carpet rides ...

      Petraeus' (and others') mistakes began with giving credence to the rumours and propaganda that surrounding his supposed 'affair,' similar to what happened with Bill Jeff and Gary Condit. Instead of keeping the issue personal and private, they all permitted their lives to be consumed by something that should have been recognised as an expression of the ideal (and who doesn't recognise 'love' as being the ultimate [or have all the songwriters of the last hundred years been blowing smoke]). They lost control of their fires and (almost) became consumed by them.

      Rather than addressing the ideal within its own context, the detractors undermined it with their innate hatred of those who achieve more than the naysayers ever could. I recently saw something that has put this notion into context for me, "Jealousy comes from counting others' blessings instead of your own." The problem is compounded by those who haven't as good thoughts or ideas or words as another and seek to destroy the person when unable to confront the thoughts or ideas or words on their own merits. The less blessed want the blessed to have less.

      The ideal has long term implications while the personal only works for the short run. Politicians think in terms of two, four, or six years and multiples thereof. Their thinking is - unfortunately - constricted by their emotions of political mortality, rather than notions of morality. This is true until, of course, the fallacy of 'mortality' is exposed, as we've long seen in Bill Jeff's case. As Margaret Mitchell pointed out a long time ago, "Until you have lost your reputation, you never realize what a burden it was or what freedom really is."*

      Until we all become April's fools, we'll just be foolish!

      * link to citatecelebre.eu

  • BBC Journalists accidentally Bombed by US Air Force during 2003 Invasion of Iraq (Video)
    • Please note: At 00:09, the reporter identifies the aircraft as 'F-14s' (if I 'get' the dialect correct). The USAF has never operated these aircraft, only the US Navy (and the Iranis).* It could be that the USAF has been involved in some 'friendly fire' incidents** but this is not one of them (if the reporting is accurate).
      At any rate, this BBC film shows how perilous war zones can be, especially in the early parts of the conflicts when nerves are on edge and communication is poor. Always hoping for the best - optimism - is also not something that is recommended; as a combat theatre is always fluid, expecting the worst - pessimism - is what keeps people alive. Even the 'spooks' know this: ' "It's incredibly regrettable, the loss of life, but I have never heard of anything as unprofessional. There's an old infantry rule: Don't bunch up." '***

      * link to en.wikipedia.org

      ** link to militarycity.com

      *** link to en.wikipedia.org

  • Palestinians Alarmed at Obama's New Christian Zionism, Failure to Push for Settlement Freeze
  • Iraq 10 Years Later: The Bitter Days Continue because Policy didn't put People First (Al-Sheemary)
    • I suppose that the attitude of the "American" 'leaders' was (and probably still is) that the Iraqis owe the "Americans" something for the efforts to remove Hussein. Because of this attitude, the Iraqis should have rolled over and acted liked dogs cowering before their masters. Unfortunately, this is almost never the case except when leaders and armies come from the same cultural backgrounds (e.g., Germany) but this only lasts for a while, even if it does happen.
      Hussein had the same sorts of problems that Nasser had when he began the Arab solidarity, one the one hand opposition from the 'West' and, on the other, opposition from those whose cultural biases favoured the local leadership. Even with Iran, it became a matter of 'the enemy of your enemy is our ally' thinking, pitting Iraq against Iran, setting in motion a war of attrition between the two nations that would enervate both and leave compliant states stronger in the end (e.g., Saudi Arabia). Now, Iran is emboldened by the disaster in Iraq. Why should the Iranis succumb to the same sorts of blunders that befell Iraq?
      As far as SAFE is concerned, that is, its being identified as 'anti-Semitic,' this is - again - a 'Western,' Euro-Centric position that has no relevance in the modern World. 'Anti-Semitism' was a European construct that addressed adherents of Middle Eastern religious mythology that cannot be applied to the Middle East or Arab World as a whole in that most in the region are Semites of long lineage. So, how can those who are something by blood against what they are? As it stands, one might conclude that the only 'anti-Semitism' going on in the Middle East is being waged by those Europeans who have thought it clever to invade and occupy, before establishing themselves among the indigenous as the "Master Race."
      The 'masterly' can co-opt the language and promulgate the lies and distorted beliefs and then declare victory. This is the war that Hussein really fought and still has not lost. The notion of 'victory' becomes validated when the intended goals have been proven to be achievable and then success reinforces the standing of the victors. But, as we've seen, lies and distortions do not ever overwhelm the Truth. Like cheap coats of paint, they eventually become worn and peel, revealing the underlying structure.

  • Pope Francis, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Women's Equality: Why Must Religion be Patriarchal?
    • Again and again, it comes down to the politics of gender issues. The old paradigm of discouraging (to the point of executing the 'guilty') those genderal issues that deviate from the norm of human reproduction, that paradigm is rooted in ensuring the various forces have enough believers to overcome adversaries by sheer numbers. The Chinese and Indians have over a billion people as do the Catholics followers of Islam. The remaining non-Catholic Christians approaches a billion (and exceeds that number if the Eastern Orthodoxy is included). Parity among rivals seems to be the way to detente.
      National governments to an extent have jumped the claim that religions have had on peoples' loyalties. Yet, the old thinking processes never wane, perhaps showing the strengths of religious devotion, something about hope never dying (ergo, the limitless breeding of future religious warriors). Of course, there are any number of international and interfaith rivalries and conflicts that disregard religious likenesses but the mind set (like concrete) remains. Regardless of the similarities between the fundamentalist Catholics, other Christians, Muslims, and others who adhere to paternalistic cultures, they can never seem to get along. There are many paths to the same goal but all seem to think about their own as being the best and best only. Should religious faith be abolished World-wide, would we see peace?
      And then there are the almost a billion atheist/agnostics who round out the remaining World population ... but, who's counting (on) the ones who find narrowness of focus unsatisfying or unsatisfactory? Do they know something that the pretenders to omniscience don't?

  • Phoenix, Az.: Climate Change Denial HQ will be First Urban Victim of ... Climate Change (deBuys)
    • You know? People are stupid! Instead of to the politicians, they need to turn the government over to the farmers and animal husbanders. In every situation where you have farming or grazing, it makes sense to rotate the resources and even let some areas lie fallow for periods of time in order to allow Nature to heal the wounds inflicted by its 'most intelligent' beings. This works to the advantage of all, from the raw resource to the consumer.
      It would make better sense to occupy cities for periods of time then rotate the citizens when resources (such as water) get low. Leave the communities in caretaker status for a specified period of time then rotate people back in once things have returned to 'normal,' unless they don't recover. It may be said that natural migration is already addressing this but I would counter with this happening only in times of crises, not as a part of long-range planning processes.
      The situation in Phoenix is not unique. As the article points out, other communities are also affected and not only directly associated with Phoenix itself. The whole SouthWestern and MidWestern parts of the United States are affected by declining water resources, worst of all, with many other effects being felt throughout the rest of the U.S.* Beyond our borders, water conflicts or wars are not unknown or unconsidered concerns, especially in the Middle East.** And, to make things on the Korean Peninsula a little more interesting, Kim Jong-Un has this little dam that might just turn Seoul into a lake, highlighting the North's ability to parch the South ... or inundate it ... at will.***
      It remains to be seen at what point in time the powers that be will figure out how to manage their human resources (i.e., citizens). Little can be done to alleviate water shortages in inland areas, most of which would not have many issues of this sort were it not for the 'benefits' of air conditioning, without which the migration to the South would never have been as intensive.
      Having lived in Northern California as a youngster, it always amazed me how much water was being sent to Southern California via the aqueduct.^ Whenever flying into 'LA-LA Land,' one has to remark at how many privately owned swimming pools there are, each one needing filling and replenishing on a daily basis. Once again, the struggle between 'needs' and 'wants' comes to the fore, the politicians (of course) preferring to address the more popular 'wants.' Perhaps, at some point in the future, the populace will prefer to want 'needs.' But: what will it take?

      * link to drought.gov
      ** link to theinternational.org
      *** link to en.wikipedia.org
      ^ link to en.wikipedia.org

  • Bradley Manning Explains his Leaks in his own Voice in new Tape (Goodman)
  • Everybody Leaks in Washington: What the Bradley Manning Trial Tells us about a Broken System (Schanzer)
    • This goes back to the Pentagon Papers and Watergate wherein the Executive Branch and other governmental agencies sought to prevent various details about government from ever reaching the light of day. I believe the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is also of note inasmuch as the citizens are essentially the 'bosses' of the government and have a right to know what's going on. We have a whole cottage industry concerned with 'conspiracy theories' that have bloomed like dandelions in Spring simply because of the privileged status of state secrets.
      Some background information can be found at:
      link to en.wikipedia.org
      A telling paragraph states: "Following the Watergate scandal, President Gerald R. Ford wanted to sign FOIA-strengthening amendments in the Privacy Act of 1974, but concern (by his chief of staff Donald Rumsfeld and deputy Richard Cheney) about leaks and legal arguments that the bill was unconstitutional (by government lawyer Antonin Scalia, among others) persuaded Ford to veto the bill, according to documents declassified in 2004.[7] However, Congress voted to override Ford's veto, giving the United States the core Freedom of Information Act still in effect today, with judicial review of executive secrecy claims.[8][9]"

  • Cairo Burning: The Great Soccer Riots of 2013 and the Revolution
    • I find it amazing (still) that a 'sport' like association football^ is responsible for so much violence around the World. Of course, the obvious conclusion is that it has to do with the perfidious Albions, they who initiated codification of a 'sport' in order to peacefully settle intergroup rivalries.* But, in characteristic fashion, they succeeded only in creating more problems than the 'sport' could ever hope to solve. One might wonder if this is because association football is one of the most boring spectator sports ever devised, leaving the spectators more fanatical due to having spent so much time watching groups of players running one way while moving a ball then running the other way, back and forth and back and forth, with so little to show for their efforts at the end of the matches.

      It's not a difficult thought process to see that the 'sport' is related to the orginators' penchant for exporting violence from their realms to other countries, thereby bringing to the otherwise unwitting new subjects of conquest a new level of 'sophistication' that has now become a World-wide phenomenon, that of organising a 'sport' for the express purpose of destablising the social orders into which it has been introduced, that of devolving the breakdown of social mores to subjugated peoples.

      There has been, apparently, an inherent confusion wrought by the perpetrators and promoters of the 'sport,' that of being unable to distinguish between 'peace' and 'boredom.' Because the terms have not been satisfactorily defined and explained at the source of the problem, the result has been to export not the benefits of 'peace' but the inevitable consequences of 'boredom' (restlessness, agitation, and the like) to countries and societies that are less well equipped to manage the anxieties among themselves. This is seen often enough when 'Western' influences are visited upon societies evolved from different perspectives.

      And, the consequences? Now, Egypt - for one- is reeling from their efforts of the 'Arab Spring,' only needing slight pressure to begin venting their hostilities about various issues that affect their nascent renaissance, not-so-ironically demonstrated in the recent association football crisis. So, from a 'sport,' the activities at the events have taken on political dimensions extending beyond the stadium grounds into the communities as a whole. And, who benefits? The Egyptians? Or, the cabal of countries that seek to ultimately benefit from developing and yet unstable nations - like Egypt - remaining smeared with the blood shed in a 'friendly competition.' And, can we wonder what the cabals' real 'sport' is?

      ^ link to en.wikipedia.org
      * link to en.wikipedia.org

  • Mission Accomplished: Iraq as America's biggest Blunder (Van Buren)
    • I suppose it's a question of who "we" are. In February 2003, I wrote a lengthy lettre to my members of Congress (two ND Senators and one Representative) stating uncategorically that the venture into Iraq was ill-advised and that there were NO weapons of ill repute. Ergo, the whole affair was a needless expenditure of resources. I seem to recall that the anti-war protests of that period were record-setting. "We" got it back then; "they" didn't.
      To diminish the role of the authoritarian in a part of the World where a strong man's strong hands rule unquestionably sends the message that there really is no authority at all, sent to those who are on all sides of the issue. Hence, mayhem ensues with various factions reinforcing the newly learned fact of authoritarian lackings, with everyone raising havoc thereby disenfranchising those who would prefer a peaceful change. Having conquerors who are nonnative and nonresident leaders assert any control is laughable!
      What is happening with Assad in Syria now is his longevity's being enhanced by the lack of cohesion of the forces who are actively fighting against the Alawite leader and his supporters. On the one hand, the Asia Times reports, '"government forces purposefully surrendered territories with little to no resistance ... to shorten their communication lines and to cut some expenses - but also in order to let the population taste a nightmare version of freedom which would conceivably lead many people to choose Assad's rule as the lesser evil."'* On the other, "There is no appetite for intervening actively against Assad -- as NATO did against Moammar Gadhafi in Libya -- and run the risk of having him replaced by an Islamist regime hostile to the West. Those concerns have deepened after the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and political turmoil in Egypt where a bid to promote an Islamist agenda threatens to tear the nation apart."** Somewhere, the leaders (except for the likenesses of Tony-B-A-Liar) are being roused from their post-Imperial feast slumbers and seeing the mess that the revelers have left for those hosting the party!

      "We" have gotten 'it' for some time now. "They," they who seem to think tearing at scabs and scratching open wounds is an appropriate tactic need to devote more of their own physical beings and less of their roulette random thoughts, "they" don't (yet). Obviously, their gambles have not paid off and - so far - they've steered clear of those who want to settle outstanding debts!

      * Read more: link to businessinsider.com

      ** Read more: link to foxnews.com

  • Austerity and the threat to Democracy, in the US, Europe and the Middle East
    • I would say the problem is with gluts. There are so many products and services available and people are expected to buy them. When the demand declines due to market saturation, there is corresponding decline in the need for people to be hired, thereby causing the bosses to constrict their workforces in order to preserve value in the various companies. [This is all very basic, I know.]
      The trouble is caused when the various corporate enterprises are less inclined to reduce their value by distributing the available monies by keeping people perpetually employed. I recall that this happened with the Japanese who went from an economy that ensured life-long employment to one that put a greater value on business income and less on worker longevity. Detroit is another example in that the auto industry has gone away, leaving a skeleton of rusting and decaying infrastructure. Now, there are stories about the average family not being able to afford a new car.* Thus, there is a glut of vehicles that cannot be sold to a surplus of people. Even Samsung recently had an offer to give their Galaxy SIII cell tels away for free (WalMart is now advertising them for about $125), something that would only happen in a market that was so overwhelmed with devices that supremacy relied on severely undercutting the competition.
      Austerity might be a good thing if the holders of the income and revenues downsized their expectations and distributed the available funds more equitably. With CEO salaries at somewhere above 400 times the average workers', with banks too big to fail, with pResidents starting wars to boost cronies' coffers, with nonsensical noise makers who see themselves as musicians rapping in the cash, with a lack of prioritisation of what societal needs are, austerity is going to have to be the 'remedy,' putting the controls in the hands of those who are essentially the servants dictating to the masters and mistresses of the house.** Austerity is at the wrong level of the organisational structure! When the real crisis comes, the planners will be there to administer their solutions.

      * link to thedetroitbureau.com
      ** link to en.wikipedia.org

  • How the US Decides Drone-kill People when it Doesn't Know Who they Are (Currier)
    • The decision-making process is one that occurs wayyy below the level of the Oval Office. Parameters may be agreed upon at the highest levels but the actual target selection is decided at a much lower part of the chain. While there is a general sense of which kinds of people are selected for eradication, it comes down to the various and varied intelligence of and available to the trigger pullers. I doubt if there are boots on the ground that can call in air strikes like in a real man-to-man fighting conflict. Space or aerial surveillance is an art that must be applied but must still be prone to human error in analysis and fact-finding when concluding that a particular event warrants a strike. Think of the cruise missile attacks of years gone by ... even the best information is still affected by misinterpretation of the realities on the ground. The hope that combatants in the target zone will realise the futility of their efforts and just give up is an absurd one. The fighters on the opposing side have only their own hides considered and any 'collateral damage' is a cost to be borne by those who suffer the consequences of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

  • A Different View of Iran, 2013 (Video)
    • For those who have never gone far afield of the U.S., everything seems a little less 'human' inasmuch as there is no common experience, nothing deemed worthy of sharing. I experienced this in Turkey, Korea, Europe, and other locales ... places that are foreign and exotic that might be comparable to some spicy food when the Americans are accustomed to boiled potatoes and well-done meat. Anything out of the ordinary gives rise to acid indigestion, even without so much as a taste of other cultures' fare.

  • Israel Spy Scandal and Press Censorship
    • I suppose this is more acceptable than "shot while trying to escape." One can only wonder the extent to which things like this have been and are occurring ...

  • When we Kill without Caring: Bill Moyers on the Downside of Drones (Video)
    • It might be said that the use of any weapons system that denies the possibility of hand-to-hand combat is less than heroic. Gone are the days when fighters are able to confront one another on land, on the sea and in the sky, warriors pitting themselves against one another until the final drop of blood is spilled and one or the other combatant resigns and retreats from the battlefield in defeat. I realise that this is "Patton-esque" but it nevertheless remains true, even more so since the beginnings of drone strikes, given that the drone operators are thousands of miles away.

      It is difficult to sway an enemy to the point of view of having lost when the supposed winner doesn't even bother to show up for a one-on-one test of mettle. Indeed, it invigorates the enemy "over there" to remain resilient and resistant to the traditional ending of hostilities because of the social nature and perspective of fighting: it's a matter of personal honour to defend one's hallowed turf. When there is no honour and only horror, grudges and revenge are the driving motivations to continue any struggle, veneration be damned.

      Whether bombing Hanoi from miles in the sky or stealthily strafing Baghdad at supersonic speeds or indiscriminately obliterating targets seen only through a camera lens, the idea that the real enemy is being defeated is nonsense. As Mr Moyers points out, collateral damage occurs which has a ripple effect of creating even more enemies from those on periphery of the conflict. The purpose of warfare, that of reducing or eliminating the will to fight, is forgotten with the opposite effected: steeling the resolve of those whose honour has been impugned.

      And then there was Dresden* ... learned lessons lessened ...

      * link to en.wikipedia.org

  • Top Five Objections to the White House's Drone Killing Memo
    • I seem to recall that the '9-11 conspirators' were reportedly seen hanging out in strip bars and other Moslem persons have been doing things that were outside their normal (as in 'what they would do in their own lands') behaviours. For these acts, they were chided and derided as being unfaithful and untrue to their ideals. Except that their activities (have) had immunity so long as they were committed in the lands of the infidels.
      Now, we have American leaders who order acts to be committed that are illegal in the United States but seen as legitimate in far-off lands (or, in the case of Gitmo, no so far-off islands). As long as the acts are 'over there,' it seems that there are no restrictions or penalties. Sorta like, 'what happens in Vegas (or Baghdad or Kabul or Hanoi or elsewhere) stays there' sort of thinking.
      As far as the Americans killed in other lands, it might be said that they are fugitives from justice and are just asking for their fates. There has been something about mercenaries in the service of foreign nations being outlaws, something that can be selectively determined and remedies applied.*
      Could it be that extrajudicial terminations have been going on so long that they just seem 'normal' now? The instigators are just 'coming out,' as the social vernacular would have it. (Gotta come out because there are too many skeletons in the closet and there's no room left for the clandestine?)
      But, we have how many former American politicians who can't travel to foreign countries for fear that retribution will be visited upon them? So, instead of some geographical limitations, there is the notion of 'Karma,' that of 'what goes around, comes around.' Something about Newton's Third Law comes to mind ...

      * link to ratical.org

  • Paranoia Strikes Deep: A Cowering America still Haunted by Bin Laden's Ghost (Engelhardt)
    • As I understand the "Al Qaeda" gripe, the whole situation developed out of Americans' presence as a military force in Saudi Arabia. Since Rummie pulled most of the American forces out of SA in 2003, the "Al Qaeda" issue should be mostly resolved. Of course, as with the fall of the Soviet Union and the subsequent (Bush 41/Cheney/Powell) drawdown and NATO having an existential crisis, the notion that something was somehow won seems to have been lost in the mail. Along with the U.S. and its existential allies having been lost in how to be winners, there is the mission creep and metasticisation of the cancer of conflict, something that has become more habitual than purposeful.
      The notion of 'fear' seems to have come out of some trauma that none of the leaders have ever really experienced. Of course, with Barry in the White House, he's got other issues to concern him, namely some nefarious domestic dark forces that would focus on his appearance and not on his position. We wonder just how 'advanced' the American society is when no one is to be trusted and everyone suspected.

  • Chuck Hagel Mauled in Bizarro World of US Senate
    • It's interesting to see how the Senate gets to intimidate one of their own veterans, especially one who is a Republican. This is even after reports that 'Israel' has mentioned that it has no problems with Hagel.* But, that could have been kissy-face, all the while knowing that supporters in the Senate would take on the ogrish troll roles. And, this is also knowing that Hagel has been through the process from the perspective of the dais, having listened to the private comments no one ever hears on the television.
      This is reminiscent of the impeachment hearing when Alan D accused Bob Barr of using 'code words' when he uttered something about 'real Americans.' We know all well that Alan D was using 'code words' by even mentioning 'code words.' (But who would accuse the lawyer of using language obliquely?)
      The Senators talking about influence and being right about Iraq and whatnot were obviously catering to their constituencies simply because of the statements they made and how they were making them. Any attacks on 'Israel' had the effect of sending a message to the White House about its perceived attitude and perspective with regard to the little country on the Eastern Mediterranean coast, in view of reports that there is conflict between the American President and his adversarial counterpart over there. It's interesting that 'Israel' owes its existence to a U.N. mandate but is non-compliant with so many U.N. resolutions, even to the point of being chastised regularly and currently by the parent organisation.
      Hagel, on the other hand, seems to be holding his cards close to the vest, not revealing his hole cards too quickly or falling for bluffs and losing his stake in the whole affair. In so doing, he's playing a better game of 'Texas Hold 'Em' better than Cruz (who should probably being playing 'Go Fish') or the unmatched pouilleuse Graham (better at 'Old Maid'**).

      * [Among many] link to news.yahoo.com
      ** link to en.wikipedia.org

  • Syrian Horror Show, as Obama, Kuwait Pledge Refugee Aid (+ Cole Interview)
    • Business Insider ran an article on 29th January 2013 that suggests that Assad is now winning.^

      An earlier BI article reveals something about the strategy that Assad might be using:
      <>^^
      I would think that seeing how the other 'flowers' blossomed in neighbouring countries' 'Arab Springs' demonstrates that rebellions break down once there appears to be opportunities for factional consolidation or marginalisation. Rather than fighting the 'establishment,' various groups begin the chore of asserting dominance, resulting in infighting, competition, and 'gang' warfare until such a time as a mutually agreeable leader (a 'Luciano') arises to meet the challenges. But, as we have seen in Lebanon, for example, car bombs have ways of eliminating even the most popular.
      Assad is likely waiting and watching how the rebels progress and who's behind them internationally. Then, as you pointed out, there's the Russkies and others who are beginning to want to use their might for their 'right.' The Chinese, for example, may be using their dispute with the Japanese over those islands in order to gauge response or create a diversion. The advantage is gained by those who are willing to wait until the newly invigorated begin to act recklessly, shortening their longevity. Meanwhile, back at the refugee camps ...

      ^ link to businessinsider.com
      ^^ link to businessinsider.com

  • Top Ten Republican Myths on Benghazi that Justify Hillary Clinton's Anger
    • The 'September 11th' date and the 'Bull' Casey/'Wrongie' Reagan manipulation of the Iran Hostage Crisis come to mind. These point to being all-too-conveniently coincidental for the Republicans, who - might it be said? - were hoping for some knee-jerk reaction to the NYC WTC destruction recollection/anniversary and the adverse effect it could have had for Barry's re-election, just as Jimmy Carter was defeated in 1980. Blaming the Administration for situations and events that might have been concocted for political gain should have an even greater boomerang effect. Theorising about 'conspiracies' might sound outlandish were it not for all of the other things learned in the process of critical thinking about anomalous occurrences.

  • Anti-Mercury UN Minimata Convention Approved in Geneva: Impact on Coal?
  • Top Ten Surprises of the Obama-Karzai Meet on Afghanistan's Future
    • C-130s are not helicopters. Was the intent to mention C-130s AND helicopters?

      As for other developments, the shutter has been triggered ... now it'll be a matter of getting the images developed and printed to see what actually goes on ... a lot of work just to get revenge for two "Christian" missionaries detention, they who couldn't mind their own business ...

  • Climate Change is turning Australia Purple with Blazing Heat
    • Well, 'tis interesting how a tune from 1972 record seems to be appropriate to this event, especially with those gambling with the climate. Now, we have 'deep purple' as the new colour for record temperatures not seen since 1972^ corresponding to Deep Purple's "Smoke On the Water"* ("Smoke on the water, fire in the sky"**). The "Fathers of Invention" (siring the Industrial Revolution and its problematic consequences) have contributed to climactic anomalies, despite romantic visions of everything 'green,' like money. We can envision them fiddling away to the soft melodies of 'Deep Purple' as everything around the gamblers' houses (and, by consequence, ours) turns to ashes.***

      ^ link to smh.com.au
      * link to en.wikipedia.org
      ** link to guardian.co.uk
      *** link to youtu.be
      link to en.wikipedia.org

  • Rape in India, and the Low Status of Women
    • I would suggest a moratorium on Indian nationals being allowed to enter or to stay in the U.S. until the South Asian nation can get its stuff together. In my own experience, many of the "traditions" are imported along with the brain trusts/drain from some of the "advanced" nations. This is not a new thing but something that needs closer scrutiny, especially when economic survival is dependent on the flow of resources to and from, back and forth. Trade might be curtailed or eliminated accordingly.

      "In India, typically the bride’s family must provide the groom with many expensive gifts, so that marrying off the girls of the family is extremely expensive and poor fathers and mothers would like to have high-value sons instead." Of course, this is sort of like indentured servitude in which the terms of marriage are dictated by financial incentives. The man's family stands to become quite a bit wealthier from the payment of a dowry* whereas the woman's family gets to bear the burden of the whole marriage scam/scheme/skim. It would be an interesting to illustrate the effects of an imbalanced population wherein the outsized numbers of men would have to share relatives' spouses in order to fulfill some sort of reproductive urge/obligation. This might not bode well for the sterotypical "sacred cow" in that women might just usurp the position of adoration, making the women more literally "cash cows."

      *http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dowry#India
      link to en.wikipedia.org

  • Schwarzkopf (RIP) and How the United States got Bogged Down in the Middle East
    • Let's not forget the paterfamilias, the Big Daddy who started things on the road to ruin, MG Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf, who took out Dr. Mohammad Mosaddegh, who "[as] prime minister, Mosaddegh became enormously popular in Iran after he nationalized Iran's petroleum industry and oil reserves. In response, the British government, headed by Winston Churchill, embargoed Iranian oil and successfully enlisted the United States to join in a plot to depose the democratically elected government of Mosaddegh. In 1953 US President Dwight D. Eisenhower authorized Operation Ajax. The operation was successful, and Mosaddegh was arrested on 19 August 1953. The coup was the first time the US had openly overthrown an elected, civilian government."*

      "Before retiring from the Army in 1953 with the rank of major general, Schwarzkopf was sent by the Central Intelligence Agency as part of Operation Ajax (correct name TPAjax, TP meaning Soviet backed Tudeh Party of Iran), to convince the self-exiled Iranian monarch, Mohammad Reza Shah, to return and seize power. Schwarzkopf went so far as to organize the security forces he had trained to support the Shah, and in so doing he helped to train what would become later known as the SAVAK."**

      I can think of the various things that "RIP" could mean (but I don't want to be mean).

      * link to en.wikipedia.org
      **http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Schwarzkopf,_Sr.

  • Deaths by Firearms across the World - America among the Worst
    • Among the worst (4th) in raw numbers, yes, the United States has to take time to pause. Per 100K, the rate of Gun violence>Homicides>Overall homicide rate = 9.1 (14th of 32). (The Wikipedia source is not specific on this number.) An interesting pair of graphs pertaining to this issue can be found here at the '*' in the notes below.
      These numbers do not include the numbers of deaths due to American gun violence World-wide which just might take it to #1, contributing - in my opinion - to the higher rates in the U.S. We notice that in the Bush 41 & 43 years, years of protracted wars, violence was on the upswing. During Clinton 42's years, there was a dramatic drop in the rates, perhaps the lowest in 20-25 years ... or more. Obama's numbers are inconclusive, based upon availability.
      Jails and prisoners are other interesting data. American jails rank 5th according to NationMaster. The U.S. leads in incarcerations by as bunch.(See '**' below)
      We wonder how much of the prison culture is affecting what happens in 'civilisation.' My biggest concern is the way drugs are marketed, legally and illegally, by many who aren't in jail and should be and many who are in jail and shouldn't be. Beyond this, death by homicide is about 15th on the list of ways to die in the U.S., representing about 3.5% of the whole. The bulk of 1 through 14 is related to "personal" tastes, resulting in a whole range of medical issues to which the afflicted succumb. The remainder fall due to accidents, among which we might say that over 30,000 people are stricken due to vehicular accidents.*** But, where is the outcry or national moratorium on illness or the auto industries? Another 96.5% of the almost 480 thousand deaths is not that important?

      * link to en.wikipedia.org
      ** link to en.wikipedia.org
      *** link to cdc.gov
      link to cdc.gov

  • How America is Filling up itself and the World With Guns
    • One recalls Mad Albright, whose famous quote came during the latest Balkan "crisis" of the last Century, "At a 1993 meeting with Joint Chiefs Chairman Colin Powell--who gave his name to the doctrine that the military should be used only after a clear political goal has been set, and then only with decisive force--she challenged the general: "What's the point of having this superb military that you're always talking about if we can't use it?" As Powell later recalled, "I thought I would have an aneurysm.""* This was rich given a woman who not only never even had to put on a uniform but was intent on bombing the very people who saved her skin in WW2.

      The culture of the United States over the last half century has been one where weapons seem to solve all ills ... until they don't. Giving people the means of destruction used to be a point of contention during the Cold War when the "West" was competing against the Eastern Block and the Warsaw Pact for influence and weapons revenue. Albright et al seem to have succumbed to some sort of obsessive-compulsive behaviour that mandates employing military forces to achieve dubious and nebulous ends, if only but for a lack of any other options. All this serves to do is set an example for "allies" who seek to achieve their geopolitical ends by the same means, Saddam Hussein having been one of them during the 1980ies into the early 1990ies. His eventual overthrow was manufactured by those who were consumed with his having acquired "WMDs," another expression of the OCB of the maniacs staffing American policy centres.
      And, how many shootings have occurred this PAST WEEK in the United States? Cedar lake (IN)(almost), Topeka (KS), Newport Beach (CA), Clackamas County (OR), and, of course, Newtown (CT) (with a bomb threat as an added 'bonus') ... more? [And I'm just reading the Yahoo! headlines at 4:44AM today] What examples are the likes of the Albrights et al showing, not only to people around the World but to those at home, by solving issues with weapons BEFORE talking things out? Yes, the U.S. HAS to change: it must change its perspective on how problems are addressed and solved, not relying on arm-chair warriors who get (at least) a twinkle in their eye every time they see George C Scott as General Turgidson in 'Dr Strangelove,' but focussing on 'how' to turn the World away from - and not to -swords.
      Now, THAT will take guts!

      *http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,24446,00.html

  • Why Bill O'Reilly is Wrong about Minorities 'Wanting Things" & the Election
    • Nice, as usual. We notice that the 'red' states (we fought the 'Reds'(!) for how many years?) are also the former 'South,' the Louisiana Purchase, and - for the most part - the 'cowboys and Indians' former territories, perhaps the places where those who resisted urbanisation went into exile. There's an interesting graphic that shows Barry's appeal among voters, an appeal that perhaps more closely represents the actual demographics (ethnic make-up) of the U.S., provided for your consideration. It's a couple of pie charts under the heading of "Dear Republicans: This is why you lost. Again."
      link to dailykos.com

  • Mourdock, Rape as a Gift of God, and Islamic Sharia
    • The problem with these men remarking about "rape" is they find it unremarkable inasmuch as they (as "males") are not usually the subjects of attack. I fundamentally believe that children conceived and born to those who have a genuine concern for each other will most likely succeed in whatever society into which they are introduced. Needless to say, those born without the requisite emotional commitment by their sires and dames (hopefully, "Dads" and / with "Moms") are at a disadvantage. Those born to a rape victim are a constant reminder of traumatic event(s). Moreover, I suggest that the "men" who have such a casual attitude about rape put themselves in position where they might be found to be suitable subjects for involuntary coitus (or a substitute therefor). Their minds, they may be a changin'!

  • The Gospel of Jesus' Wife and Sacred History from Judaism to Islam
    • Long ago, I learned that it was the groom's responsibility to arrange for the wine for the marriage back in those days thereabouts. The "arrangement" ("kiddush") included the groom bringing a skin of wine with which the deal was sealed. Note that the Nazarene attends one wedding (only one in the whole bunch of books?) at Cana, at which he changes water to wine. (John 2:1-11) Now, of all those at the wedding, WHY would it be the Nazarene's obligation to provide the libation UNLESS it was his wedding? His mother (one of the Marys) was in charge of the arrangements as well; WHY if not for some personal stake in the wedding?
      All this stuff about the Nazarene not being married smacks of modern-day idol worship that makes a single male "star" more alluring if he remains available (for some young bobby-soxer's romantic dreams). To reveal and to remove all doubt that the Nazarene was a taken man does what to the religion? Make Southern France the next very holy site? Explaining the aversion to Cathars in a different light?
      Interesting that more modern societies have for two thousand years puzzled over such questions while not being able to "get" the basic tenets of the "religion." We have to wonder about any religion that increases in popularity given Matthew 9:12-13, "But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.""

Showing comments 71 - 1
Page: