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Total number of comments: 133 (since 2013-11-28 14:42:46)

Bill H

Showing comments 133 - 101

  • Why it Isn't that Important Whether ISIL Leader was Killed
    • If someone had killed Dwight Davin Eisenhower in April of 1944, would we have cancelled the Normandy invasion, packed up our weaponry and returned to the North American continent, leaving Europe to Hitler? I think not. And yet thise is what we seem to think the Islamist groups will do if we kill their leader. Nuts.

  • Don't Trust the Bombers on Iraq: "Shock and Awe" Never Works
    • You write as if you think the aerial and missile bombardment was intended to replace the ground invasion. It was not. It was for the purpose of weakening the ienemy and degrading his ability to resist when the invasion too place, and it worked very well indeed. The invasion was accomplished with incredible swiftness and very few casualties, and the resistance in Baghdad when we got there was essentially zero.

      So the claim that "that shock and awe never works" is untirely incorrect. It worked very well at doing what it was supposed to do.

  • Standing on the Titanic: Meaningless Iraq Campaign Posters Provoke Satire, Ridicule on Facebook
    • "Outdated slogans, empty rhetoric and unnecessarily dramatic or heroic poses on placards... None of the information available really offers anything useful..."

      Sounds like an American election. We taught them well.

  • Top Ten Things Bob Gates was Wrong about, Some Criminal
    • Certainly no defender of Gates, in fact one of my disappointments with Obama is that he retained Gates, but at least half of the things you list here are presidential policy. Cabinet Cecretaries do not make policy, they carry out policy set by the president and those above them in the administration. I don't think those policies can properly be laid at Gates' feet.

      Washington is a sel-perpetuating horror show, since each administration is made up of individuals who have been members of half a dozen preceeding administrations. Not unique to Obama, it has been true for decades. How does change occur when only the figurehead changes and he is being "advised" by the same morona who "advised" half a dozen figurheads who preceeded him?

  • "60 Minutes" does Infomercial for NSA with Security Official posing as Journalist
    • "you would think that the once respected news program might try a little harder not to post something so obviously ridiculous."

      They have been specializing in the ridiculous for several years now, more interested in parading their stars and puffing their "access" than in presenting actual analysis of news. They lost me when they presented the piece on the "liquid bombs" and why liquids were limited to one ounce,, showing an airliner blown in half and claiming that the explosion was made by a 2ox liqiud bomb. I havene't watched that farce in years.

  • Annual Informed Comment Fundraiser
    • The new design is a total loser. It looks like you are trying to emulate Huffington Post of Salon, both of which are rags with mutiple poor quality writers. You don't need that layout when you one or two posts daily by one high quality writer.

  • America's Secret 4th Branch of Government: The NSA kept even Obama in the Dark
    • Were they fired for the actions of spying?
      Were they fired for doing it and not telling Obama?
      Were they fired for not keeping it sufficiently secret?
      Were they fired for not saying Obama didn't know?

  • No, NSA snooping didn't foil 50 Terrorist Attacks (Elliot & Meyer)
    • One "involving a San Diego man convicted of sending $8,500 to Somalia to support the militant group Al Shabab."

      So one may have prevented nothing more sinister than a group in Somalia buying itself a few trucklkads of groceries.

  • Why Ted Cruz Should sit down and Shut Up: Countries with Social Safety Net Happiest
    • "Scandinavians, who tax their 1% properly..."

      Other than Norway, which has a small tax on net wealth, I see no real evidence that this is the case, and I'm not sure that Scandanavia even has a "1%" such as we do.

      Sweden pays a 32% tax for social security, which is matched by the employer. Unless I'm mistaken, all of them have Value Added taxes, which is shared as much proportionally be the poor as by the rich. Generally, these countries all pay far higher taxes at all levels of income than we do, but do not complain because they receive benefits that far exceed what we receive.

      None of which invalidates your point of course, but they don't do it by "taxing the 1% peoperly," nor can we do it by "taxing the rich." The Democratic Party needs to return to being the "tax and spend" party, an approach which I wholeheartedly supported at the time. This current nonsense of trying to claim that we can offer the middle class all of the benefits they want and tax cuts too is unsupportable pandering.

  • The Hubris of the Syria Interventionists
  • Arguing with President Putin
    • "...criticize President Obama’s consideration of unilateral US military action against Syria, as the sort of thing that might break the organization.

      But is it equally true that Russian refusal to allow an explicit UN Security Council resolution condemning Syria for using heavy military weapons against civilian non-combatants (which is how the protests were turned into a civil war) poses dangers to the credibility of the United Nations."

      Just as the United States prevents a resolution condemning Israel for attacking Lebanon in 2007.

      There is a very large difference between statements of opinion by the UN and actual conduct of war by UN members without UN approval. The UN was not founded to make or not make statements, it was founded to prevent war, and Putin's point is that if one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council is starting wars without UN sanction the UN can fall apart. It is a perfectly valid statement and is not countered by Russia's use of the veto any more than it is countered by the US's use of the veto.

  • A US attack on Syria will Prolong the War
    • "By striking Syria, Obama has all but guaranteed that a negotiated solution becomes impossible for years to come."

      I tend to agree with your assessment, but in the hearings yesterday Kerry asserted that the purpose of the strike is to advance a negotiated settlement, and went so far as to say that without the strike a negotiated settlement is impossible.

  • Syria: Will Killing of Hundreds with Sarin Gas force Obama's Hand?
    • I will be very surprised if Assad forces used chemical weapons. He is reversing rebel gains and the tide is turning in his favor. Rebels have made such claims before and this country has gone into hyperventilation mode over them, only to find that they were entirely ficticious or that it was rebel forces who were using whatever chemical was being used.

  • Greenwald Partner falsely detained as Terrorist: How to Create a Dictatorship
    • Well, of course, the big one is:

      11. Justify all of the above with the Orwellian claim that you are "keeping America safe" from terrorists who mostly have been created by doing all of the above.

  • New Hot Zones now cover 5% of Earth; Only Fix is Halting CO2 (Lazare)
    • Am I missing something? A "3-sigma heat wave event" in which "climates are warmed to 3 times their normal temperature for over 3 weeks in a row" would seem to mean that a 70 degree climate is warmed to 210 degrees? For three weeks. Ehere has it been 210 degrees for three weeks? This year's heat record was 134 degrees at Death Valley.

      Even if you're looking at a more temperate locale, where has a 50 degree climate shot up to 150 degrees for three weeks?

      And "5-sigma" events are predicted in which temperatures would climb to 350 degrees? Are we talking about the planet Earth?

  • Wall Street has a Cow as Town uses Eminent Domain to Help Homeowners avoid Foreclosure (Lazare)
  • How the GOP Libya Witch Hunt Made us Close our Mideast Embassies and Crippled US Diplomacy
    • If this is an example of damage done by the Republican Party, then I would say it reflects less badly on the Republican Party than it does on a Democratic administration which has allowed itself to be so thoroughly cowed by the opposition that its actions are dictated by fear of what the opposition might do. If fear of the opposition is preventing the State Department from doing its job, then we should not be criticizing the opposition so much as we should be utterly condemning the State Department.

  • Pakistan: 20% of US Drone Victims are Civilians, 12% are Children (Woods)
    • Of course large numbers of civilians are killed by drones. The only thing transparent in our government is the degree to which it lies to us, and the baldness with which it lies is a measure of the degree to which it holds the people it governs in contempt and does not fear the electorate. It knows we will keep it in power no matter what it does, and that democracy in this nation is an empty word.

  • Detroit's Bankruptcy and America's Future: Robots, Race, Globalization and the 1%
    • "I’m saying treat robot factories without human labor the way Alaska treats oil. Make it a state asset and pay everyone a dividend."

      That doesn't make any more sense than saying that a horse is like a camel because both have four legs. Oil is a natural resource, owned by the state because it exists natiurally as part of the common property. A robot factory costs a great deal of money to build or purchase. Where does the state get the money to do that? Taxes the people or borrows. In the latter case it must repay the debt, for which purpose it must tax the people. In either case it is paying those dividends and taxing people at the same time, unlike Alaska, where the dividend comes at no cost to the state.

      There's a big difference between "We'll grant you a lease to extract oil from our land in return for a tax on what you extract," which requires essentially no investment, risk or ongoing expense to the state, and building, maintaining and operating a factory which might or might not generate a profit which can be distributed to the people of the state, a process requires large investment, incurs lengthy and significant ongoing costs of operation, generates libilities incurred by the operation, and takes the risk that it might not pay off.

    • "It seems to me that we need to abandon capitalism as production becomes detached from human labor. I think all robot labor should be nationalized and put in the public sector, and all citizens should receive a basic stipend from it."

      Really? They tried that in Russia and Eastern Europe and it didn't work; failed disasterously in fact.

  • Have we no Shame? Will Hunger Strikes and medical Torture finally close Guantanamo? (Hickman)
    • The Administration "chooses not to resolve this" because hunger strikes are a form of "ayssemetrical warfare" against this country and as such are a form of attack which should be met with force. We should not allow actions of the terrorist criminals held in Guantanamo to force the closure of one of our treasured institutions.

      Okay, just to be sure everyone does not mistake me, my tongue was firmly in my cheek.

  • Turkish Opinion Poll Finds Majorities Slam Erdogan policies on Alcohol, Syria
  • Should Memorial Day include Commemoration of Thoreau?
    • It doesn't matter why they were sent, it matters why they go. We do not honor wars on this day, we honor them as persons for having gone, for their personal sacrifice. If you cannot understand the difference then I pity you.

  • Top Ten Republican Myths on Libya
    • While I am of the opinion the the current Benghazi noise is political posturing, discredits Congress much more than the White House and should stop forthwith, this struck me as a sour note, "The Benghazi US mission was very clearly an operation of the Central Intelligence Agency."

      The State Department, in the person of an Ambassador no less, was engaged in a CIA operation, and you don't think that needs explanation? I do, and not in secrect meeting to a habdful of senators. The Church Committee was not done in secret.

  • Congress Obsessed with American Muslims, Neglects real threat of White Supremacists
    • " only 14 Americans of Muslim heritage were even indicted for violent plots."

      And how many of those were actually Muslim dupes incited into such plots by FBI agents, or criminials arrested on other crimes and used by the FBI, in their nefarious "stings?"

  • Why this and not that? America's topsy turvy priorities
  • How Torture Misled the US into an Illegal War: What Zero Dark Thirty Really Leaves Out
    • "I found it emotionally thin, grim and relentless. It failed to establish an emotional connection to any of the characters, or to flesh them out as characters. The violence is deployed for the purposes of surprise rather than suspense, so that its dramatic effect is limited."

      Haven't seen this film, but I would say that description fits her other film, "Hurt Locker" very well.

  • Questions I ask myself about Connecticut School Shooting
    • Every citizen of Israel has a semi-automatic weapon. They don't go on killing sprees.

      While I am not opposed to gun control, own no guns myself, am not a strong supporter of second amendment, and utterly loathe the NRA, I think the problem goes deeper than guns. A sickness is creeping over this country and a symptom of that illness is an ever growing worship of violence and death.

      We use assasination as an instrument of foreign policy. Our president used "Osama bib Laden is dead" as a campaign slogan; one which was received with great cheers. We have reached the point that we worship our military. We strongly support the raining down of Hellfire missiles into villages of nations with which we are not at war, targeting people whose names we do not even know. Our president meets weekly to manage the "kill list." We imprison more people than any nation in the world, do so in inhumane conditions, and use capital punishment.

      Government and the media endlessly warn us of terrorists, foreign and domestic, lurking everywher waiting for the moment when they can deploy their weapons of mass destruction and kill us all. They make dramatic presentations of mass death and destruction which they have prevented with their "stings" here at home, and write news items of the "suspected militants" that were slaughteres by Hellfire missiles overseas.

      We do not have discussions of differing ideas, we spew intolerance and hatred, regarding those who disagree with us as evil and calling them terrorists. We advocate the victimization of the common man, one side painting government as the evil party, and the other demonizing big business and the rich, but both portraying the vanishing middle class as the powerless and helpless party being preyed upon by others.

      The fear and frustration, the sense of helplessness, turns all too often to anger. Perhaps we should be grateful that this much anger does not get unleashed more often.

  • Senate Wraps up Investigation of CIA Rights Abuses but You'll Likely Never See it (Currier)
    • Watched a "Law and Order" rerun yesterday in which McCoy put on trial one of the Bush lawyers who wrote the torture memos and charged him with conspiracy to commit murder based on a detainee who died. (He was in New York when he wrote the memo.) Many compelling and moving arguments by ADA Cutter. Ending was classic; just as jury is coming in with verdict a US Marshall comes in with order from US DOJ shutting down the trial.

  • Tom Ricks finally Tells Fox News ("GOP TV") off on the Phony Benghazi "Issue"
    • "if ... Ricks might not just have begun the unraveling of the Fox brand."

      Dream on. It would nice, if so, but... Dream on.

  • Top Ten Steps that are Necessary for Lasting Gaza-Israel Peace (or, Good Luck!)
    • "I’m not stupid or naive. I know that almost none of these 10 points is likely to be realized."

      Which does not mean that it is not worthwhile pointing out that they should be realized. It is worthwhile pointing it out, repeatedly. It needs to be pointed out.

  • Blaming Gen. Petraeus for the Wrong Mistakes: Remembering Afghanistan (Cook)
    • " We were also taught that we must do everything in our power to keep casualties to a minimum..."

      Interesting statement. It implies, to me, that "force protection" has a higher priority than mission accomplishment. That is consistent with quite a lot that I have read in discussions from and about the military, but I have never seen it stated quite so openly.

  • Candidate for CIA Chief Jane Harman Advocated Ethnic Breakup of Iran
    • Not to mention some rather serious questions regarding an Israeli spying incident and her support for Bush's warantless wiretap program. If the Senate were to confirm her it would illustrate just how much partisanship has triumphed over principle, but I rather doubt that such confirmation would be forthcoming.

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  • Brandeis U. Owes Jimmy Carter an Apology: Israelis agree they run Apartheid State, as Far Right Wing Coalition Emerges
    • I respected Jimmy Carter a good deal after his presidency, until he wrote that book. At that point my respect for him leaped upward. It took wisdom and knowledge to write that book, and it took a degree of moral courage that awed me.

  • Dear Democrats: If you do That you have to do This
    • No, you don't, and in any case we don't properly call ourselves a democracy if we know what we are talking about. We are a representative republic, which is one form of democracy. What you are thinking of is "direct democracy" and the founders specifically avoided it because it would have people who know nothing about geography and water topography, for instance, voting to determine whether water from the Central Arizona Project should be "recharged" or put ditrectly into the Tucson water system. They voyed for the latter because they feared that recharge would lead to it going down to Mexico, and the minerals in it made city water undrinkable and all but destroyed the city system. After 18 months and half a billion in repairs the water was switched to recharge, a system which is working perfectly.

  • Plot to Provoke war with Iran thwarted by Navy analyst
    • " He certainly decided abruptly to bring two aircraft carriers to the Gulf ... without telling the State Department or the White House."

      A Vice Admiral can move, not one, but two aircraft carriers around the globe unbeknownst to the Executive Branch? And do so "abruptly" no less? In what Navy? Not our Navy.

  • Your Election is being Bought by 47 Billionaires (and they are Buying War, Climate Change)
    • A sales transaction can only occur if the buyer is a willing buyer. Yes, the rich are highly objectionable. Wealth corrupts and we should have a law which prevents people from becoming wealthy, no question about it.

      But power also corrupts, and when people in a position of power abuse that power by taking money from the rich for favors which the powerful can bestaw, we should not blame the rich, we should blame the people in power who are being bribed. We do not do that. We reelect them and want to prevent the rich people from using their money. The people who are being reelected by the money are corrupt and are one third of the problem. We should have laws to prevent people from becoming powerful.

      The third leg of the triangle is people who see the advertisements on television, ads which are purchased by the rich in behalf of the people who are powerful, and base their votes on those meaningless advertisements. Those ads are almost always lies, paid for by money that we hate, and we still allow those ads to determine our votes. And the we don't blame ourselves, we balme the people who bought the ads and, we claim, bought our government.

      Money is not the problem, voters are getting the government we elect.

  • Sanity and Insanity in American Politics (Bachmann, Sessions, Romney, and Chicken)
    • "Insanity: Evangelicals are lining up at Chick-a-Fill fast food joints to show support for the bigotry of the chain’s owner."

      I think it's more than just "Evangelicals." I, personally, support the rights of gays to marry, but I don't think the opposing opinion is limited to Evangelicals.

  • 58 Murders a year by Firearms in Britain, 8,775 in US
    • I'm going to have to challenge the 88.82/100 gun ownership in the United States as nonsensical. All recent surveys indicate 45%-50% of households own guns and, as makes logical sense, a lower number of individuals do so, between 35% and 39%. Not that it is dispositave, but in my circle of about 40 friends, not a single one of them owns a gun.

      The Wikipedia item where you probably got that number obtained it by dividing the number of guns owned by the population, which does not account for one person owning multiple guns, a fact which is reported in the article.

      As Juan says, terminally stupid.

  • Against War (George Washington Poster)
    • Worth noting, certainly, but the "leadership" in Washington today cliams that the current wars are entirely necessary, rendering such humanitarian arguments moot. You and I would argue the necessity, of course, but we no longer had any voice in government to do so, since both sides embraced the putative necessity.

  • Could Syria-Turkey Conflict Pull NATO In?
    • "It is asking that NATO be convened under Article 5..."

      Really? The only source that I can find saying that Turkey has actually inviked Article 5 is an unreliable blog (not this one, which I consider reliable). Several sources say that Turkey is considering or "has mentioned" Article 5, and quite a few say it has asked for consultation under Article 4, but Radio Free Europe cites NATO itself this morning to say specifically that Turkey has not invoked Article 5.

  • Thousands Demonstrate in Alexandria Against Shafiq as Egypt Faces Election Turmoil
    • I take your point. The weakness is a system whereby the two with the greatest number of votes compete in a runoff. You can even get two finalists both of whom have low vote counts and neither of which is actually popular, making neither of them actually legitimate, and it's pretty easy to get one who meets that standard. This is the primary system that California just adopted. Brilliant.

    • Eric Margolis says the election was rigged by the military, which would render my questions moot. He's a little light on evidence for that claim, but he has always seemed knowledgable to me, so... Still, I'm leery of claims that are made without any evidence.

    • If this guy was one of two people with the most votes, why should he be disqualified, and why is his presence in the second round of the election a "travesty?"

      If he was disqualified, how would all those people who voted for him feel? How legitimate is an election if one of the winners is disqualified afterward?

      How can we call any country a democracy if, when the wrong guy wins an election, the result is "blood in the streets." That is specifically a rejection of democracy.

      Is democracy only valid when certain people win, or is it what the definition says it is, accepting the decision made by the people voting?

      That's sort of like the Republicans who want Obama not to be a legitimate President, even though he was elected by a majority of voters. Quite simply, they reject democracy. They are rejecting the winner of the election because it wasn't their guy.

  • The Great Fracking Catastrophe in Rural America (Cantarow)
    • Entire sand hills gone? Oh hell yes. Try Michigan, where an entire mountain range, the Missabe Range, is gone. It was levelled to a plain for its iron ore.

  • Analysis: Why we must name all drone attack victims (Woods)
    • "Part of the justification for the US carrying out drone strikes without consent is their reported success."

      And justification for torture was that "it worked." Is this who we are? We now justify actions not on moral grounds, but on whether or not they achieve our desired purpose.

  • No, Virginia, Iran isn't in Bed with Al-Qaeda (Abbotabad Trove)
    • Your statement about an "unreliable intelligence personnel with an axe to grind" cuts both ways. I find it hard to believe that we are presented with an accurate picture of Osama bin Laden or al Queda when we are given 17 documents out of many hundreds that were gathered on that day. Are we to believe that these were not cherry picked to present the image that "the powers that be" want us to see? Stories like Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman are far too fresh in my memory for me to run around claiming victory over the forces of evil just because the government has gotten out their paintbrushes.

  • Israeli Spy Chief Condemns Netanyahu for Iran Hype, Messianism
  • It's Springtime in Kabul for the Taliban
    • "...the purpose of these attacks, which, like those in Baghdad, likely have not hope of tactical success."

      That's because they are thinking tactically. The insurgents are thinking strategically. The attacks merely show that the insurgents can make the attacks, that the occupying forces are not in control, that the citizenry is not safe. Remember the American general who said to the Vietmanese one, "You never defeated us in battle, not even once," only to get the reply, "We did not need to."

  • Polish PM Reveals that US Tortured at Black Sites in his Country
    • Not prepared fully to believe Obama's order to stop torture until he opens the secret prisons he is operating in Afghanistan, Somalia(?) and who knows where else, and illustrates that it is not being done there and has not been done there under his administration.

  • US Public Wants out of Afghanistan as 3 Western Troops Killed by Afghan Troops
    • It's sort of interesting that it's only when our side starts screwing things up that the public decides not to be supportive of the war. I'm not sure what the message is, but it's interesting.

  • Faster than Expected Climate Change means drought, war, famine for Middle East, Africa
    • 2011 was not actually a "record breaking year" but was the 11th warmest year on record. 1998 holds the record, with 2010 in second place. There were several years in the early 2000's that were warmer, globally, than 2011. In 2012, while the Midwest and Eastern US were setting heat records, Interstate 8 in San Diego County was closed due to snow and ice.

      There are many valid pieces of evidence pointing to a changing Earth; ocean acidification, rising sea levels, melting ice packs, etc. When we shoot from the hip and use arguments which turn out to be in error we give ammunition to the idiots who are trying to debunk that our planet is in trouble. We need to be more careful.

  • Obama, GOP won't Tell Americans that Iran Sanctions drive Gas Prices
    • Obama doesn't so much need to explain about the effect of the Iran sanctions on the price of gas, he needs to stop the Iran sanctions, and not merely for the purpose of bringing down the price of gas. But of course you know that, and the space limitations didn't permit more than the gas price issue.

      But how exactly, does Obama increase his popularity if he tells the public that it is his sanctions that are raising the price of gas if he doesn't then drop those sanctions? If he does drop the sanctions he is "weak on national security" and/or "anti-Semetic." (I can't believe I just said that and I hope you know what I mean by it.) He is pretty much between a rock and a hard place there.

      And yes, standing at a solar plant and yammering about the "flat earth society" with respect to gas prices is pretty pathetic.

  • Why don't we have better Reporting on the Afghanistan Army? It is our Best Hope for Getting Out
    • But are they worth American lives and treasure. Our military signed up to risk their lives to defend American lives, freedom and what have you. They did not sign up to defend the lives of people in foreign lands. If our soldiers are to die and be maimed for life, let it be in behalf of the nation they love, not the nation whose people are killing them.

      I flatly reject staying, and losing American lives, because "Afghanistan needs us to."

    • "The Karzai government is fixated on getting F-16s fighter jets, which are useless for counter-insurgency."

      And you are focused on tanks and artillery which are equally useless for counter-insurgency. They are great for massed troops and fortifications, but insurgents don't employ massed troops and fortifications.

  • McCain: Bomb Syria; But Iraq and Russia oppose Intervention
    • I think you're right in every respect, but you might want to change the statement about "What in the world could you bomb in Syria from 30,000 feet." Strategic bombing is done from that altitide, but air support of ground troops that McCain is advocating is done from lower altitudes, often treetop height. That's what was done in Libya.

      That doesn't invalidate your point. With the forces in cities and mingled with civilian populations, air support is ruled out.

  • Top Ten Dangers for Obama of Iran Sanctions on behalf of Israel
    • Good points all. How ironic is it that Obama is threatening war against Iran in an interview with Goldberg one day, and then standing in front of AIPAC the next and warning against "loose talk of war against Iran"?

  • Dear MSM: Andrew Breitbart was not a Blogger
    • Christopher Hitchens was essentially vile but was at least smart, widely read, well educated and fun to listen to. Brietbart was ignorant, uneducated, uncouth and dumb as a post.

  • Five Things Rick Santorum Could have Learned in College
    • "we’re vetting the GOP candidate at this point in time"

      Why? How many people who are harping on the horrors of the Republican candidates are going to be voting in Republican primary elections? Yeah, I didn't think so. All of this is actually an exercise in making ourselves feel good. My father, who was an Episcopal priest, took a dim view of making one's self feel good by putting others down.

    • When are we going to hold a discussion along the lines of "This Democrats should be elected because he proposes policies that I like and that are better than the policies of the other side," instead of the comstant drumbeat of attacking the opposition? I really need a reason to vote for someone, and have no interest in why I should merely vote against another. If Democrats have nothing to offer, then why do we even bother with democracy.

  • Logical Errors and Propaganda in Republican Debate on the Middle East
    • "The maniacal right is the majority in the Republican party."

      Actually, no. They are the 20% or so that vote in Republican primaries. It has been repeatedly shown that they are not in agreement with Republican sentiment generally.

      In California Republican state legislators have repeatedly been willing to vote in favor of budgets along with the Democratic majority, enough to create the 2/3 majority required, and have been told by the leadership in their district that if they did so the leadership would run more "pure" candidates against them and defeat them.

      That threat was valid despite polling showing that as much as 60% or registered Republicans favored the vote which the present legislator intended to cast. Only 20% of registered Republicans vote in primaries, however, and that 20% would defeat that legislator in the primary for voting with Democrats.

    • One of the biggest problems we face politically is that our primary process had devolved upon a very small minority of the most politically rabid idealogues, and so the primary rhetoric becomes more and more charged and insane. These guys are posturing for maniacs and they know that, but to get to the general election thay have to say things that the maniacs want to hear. You won't hear any of them saying anything even remotely like this in the general election.

      At one point they would not be frothing at the mouth like this because to do so would be held against them in the general election, but the primary electors have become so rabid that it no longer matters. They have to do this to get the nomination from the primary idealogues, and then hope they can undo the damage in the general. You can't become president if you lose in the party's primary.

      Meanwhile, they manage to scare the hell out of thinking people, rational electors that is, who think that these guys actually mean what they are saying. They don't. They are just trying to get past the crazies.

  • Top Ten Ways Iran is Defying US, EU Oil Sanctions and How You are Paying for It All
    • Your headline seems to imply that we are paying for Iranian defiance, while I think you meant to say that we are paying for the imposition of sanctions that would never work in the first place.

  • Santorum Hypes Iran 'Threat'
    • "the Israeli bomb kicked off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East."

      Indeed. And yet the United States leadership repeatedly hyperventilates about how Iran cannot be permitted to achieve a nuclear weapon because its doing so "would start a nuclear arms race in the Middle East." As I have been pointing out since Bush was in office, that ship sank when Israel got nuclear weapons.

  • Top Ten Catholic Teachings Santorum Rejects while Obsessing about Birth Control
  • Iraq Comes to Syria
    • You must have been in a hurry when you wrote the last paragraph, as you are usually more literate than that. The "latter" would be the second of two items when you were referring to the last of three items, and I finally figured out that rather than "psychological warfare" which would be an attempt to influence or disrupt Syrians, you meant "propaganda" whichj is an effort to decieve American readers.

  • Hoekstra Blames Everyone but Himself for the Deficits He Voted for
    • I suggested "tried." The House could have passed something and let the Senate kill it. The Senate could have brought something to the floor and let the Republicans kill it. They did nothing.

    • I have to object to calling it racist, a term which I think we have come to use almost reflexively. The pitch here is clearly nationalist, and attacks outsourcing to foreign countries, but that is not automatically racism. We have a terrible and growing problem with racism in our politics that is real and ugly, and I think we make that battle harder to fight when we apply the label too freely, charging it when it is questionably the case. Nationalist jingoism and racism are not the same thing.

      The ad does not "scapegoat[e] of Asians and Asian-Americans" for current US economic difficulties when it says "our economies get strong, yours gets weak," it is "scapegoating Asian countries." That is nationalism, not racism. Nor, by the way, does she speak "broken English." She speaks very clear and gramatically correct Emglish with a Chinese accent.

      As to the economics of it, I mostly agree, would love to fully agree, but Democrats had a two year window when the had significant margins in House and Senate and control of the White House, and they did not even attempt to change the economics. The economic argument would carry more weight if Democrats had at least tried and failed, but they did not even try.

      You make one very valid point, of course, in that by far the biggest holder of US debt is US citizens and businesses.

  • Can Obama Prevail against a Romney-Netanyahu Ticket? - Robertson
    • Before one gets too lathered up about the "cheering hordes" the egg on the Republicans at the debates, one needs to remember that these are very, very small numbers of people, a few hundred of the most radicalized supporters of not one but all of the candidates. That's a few hundred out of more than three hundred million American people. Bloggers are fond os saying that "Republicans are cheering when Santorum says..." something crazy, but that exaggerates the case. Reality is that a few hundred radical supporters of the party were chering when he said that, and there may well have been millions of Republicans who were horrified by it.

      Campaign rhetoric is just that, it it rhetoric, designed to obtain cheers at rallys. Without judging how Obama is actually governing, compare his campaign rhetoric of "the urgency of now" and "we are the ones we've been waiting for" with what he actually did once he was actually in the office.

  • SOTU and a Destabilized Middle East
    • It has been suggested that Obama made the intrasigent demand for immunity deliberately to sabotage the negotiations. He did not really want to "extend the mission" but wanted to conceal his motives. So, while openly negotiating to stay, satisfying those voters who wanted ongoing hegemony, he trashed the negotiations with this demand, thereby getting what he really wanted, which was all troops out, and still looking strong and maintaining an appearance of not having been "bested" by Maliki.

      That would imply a pretty steely set of nerves and some high level stragegic intelligence, and I would suspect Obama has both capabilities. I don't know if the theory is true, but it certainly is possible.

    • Obama "puts this achievement in a passive mood, almost as though he is not the one ordering it" because he doesn't want too much credit for it. In this country, ending wars is dangerous political ground, and will lose more votes than it gains.

      An additional problem with "seeing things this way," that is as "the waning tides of war," is his rhetoric regarding military buildup in the Pacific and confrontation with China.

  • Obama warns Israel against Iran Strike, Cancels Joint Military Exercises
    • Obama needs to get control of Panetta's mouth. First he has Panetta out there bleating about how badly spending cuts would damage the military, while Obama is calling for spending cuts, then he has Panetta out there drawing "red lines" with Iran and bleating about what we "will not tolerate" and he is having to draw back the nation's position on war with Iran. Obama has never had very good control of the mouths in his cabinet, but Panetta is particularly pernicious.

  • Majid: Why America Matters to Muslims
  • Dear Republican Candidates, You Have us all Wrong
    • "President Obama did not err in his negotiations."

      Um, what? No arguemnt with the rest of your premise, but President Obama was negotiating to keep is in Iraq. It was the failure of those negotaitions that led to the Bush-Maliki agreement prevailing and us leaving Iraq on schedule.

  • World's Stupidest Guerrillas Kill over 70 Shiite Pilgrims in Iraq
    • I'm always leery of calling people stupid, and mind reading is a dangerous business.

      "Now, as then, the Sunni Arab guerrillas are attempting to provoke Sunni-Shiite violence and turmoil, in hopes that order will break down and they will prove able to provoke a coup. They must be about the stupidest people on earth, since their crackpot plan has had zero success, and yet they keep at it."

      Have they announced this goal publicly or, perhaps, whispered it in your ear? Perhaps this violence is the mere ventilation of pent up frustration and has no actual goal other than creating some dead Shiite pilgrims, in which case it has already succeeded.

      Our Civil War was followed by a lengthy period of people engaging in gratutious violence, even knowing that the invading Army of Northern Agression had won and that victory was no longer possible. (Said, I assure you, with tongue firmly in cheek.) They were just angry and were taking out their anger on the nearest target by killing "carpetbaggers." They were probably not the brightest bulbs in the chandelier, but they weren't stupid and they were not trying to restart the war. They were just seriously angry and wanted to "get in a lick" at those who they perceived had wronged them.

      Might not Arabs be somewhat like us?

  • Israeli Ads against Marriage with American Jews are Part of a Population War
    • I suppose they have some sort of logic to support refusal of a two state solution and then freaking out about becoming a minority in a one state solution, but whatever it is I can't say it gets much sympathy from me.

  • Senate Bill Allows Arrest of Americans by Military Anywhere
    • I haven't read the bill itself, so I'm a bit uncertain of this, but everything I have read says that the bill requires the military the "hold" suspected terrorists and I have not seen anything saying that it gives military any actual arrest powers in the U.S. itself. The issue would be to whom the FBI turns said suspects over to after they, the FBI, makes the arrest. The difference between "hold" and "arrest" is very significant, and everything I have seen says "hold." Your post here is the first time I have seen it posed as giving "domestic arrest" power to the military.

      Glenn Greenwald discussed this in a post recently, and he repeatedly referred to military custody and said that this bill essentially formalizes practices which are already in use by our government. He cited the Padilla case where the man was held in military custody, but he was arrested (iirc) by U.S. Marshall Service.

  • Britain Closes Tehran Embassy
    • And, of course, Michele Bachmann is threatening that if she becomes President she might close the US embassy in Iran. (!)

  • Beeman: Letter from Iran
    • "Iranians know much more about America than Americans do about Iran."

      I am often pretty sure that pretty much everyone knows more about everything than Americans know about anything.

  • Gingrich Urges War with Iran and Skyrocketing Oil Prices
    • Excellent evaluation. I wish that we could say that the insane Republican approach to Iran was countered by a sane Democratic one, but Obama's policy doesn't seem to make any sense either. He was roundly excoriated for saying that he would meet with Iranian leaders "without preconditions" during the campaign, which was one of the reasons I voted for him.

      I agreed with the concept that meeting with another nation to talk to them does not somehow demean us, and that you get other nations to do what you want them to do by meeting with them and negotiating, not by demanding that they do it first before you agree to meet with them.

      But, he now has reverted to the absurd American policy of "We don't talk to nations who aren't doing what we tell them to do."

  • OWS under Pressure: Banks Bailed out, People Sold Out
    • "One central issue for the protesters is a perception that the big banks have been treated very well by the government but that there has been less done by Washington for ordinary people who have lost the homes and lost their jobs."

      A valid and legitimate complaint, but I simply cannot comprehend the focus on punishing the beneficiaries of this wrong and not marching against the government which perpetrated the wrong. The banks are not the ones who did it, the banks are not the ones who did to little for us, the government wronged us, and yet we march on the banks.

      Those who are treated well are punished by those who are treated poorly, and the ones who started the fight by doing the deed sit on the sidelines and gloat because they got away with it. They continue to collect taxes from those they treated poorly and graft from those they treated well, and nothing changes.

      Meanwhile the banks were treated well to the tune of $1 trillion one time, while the Pentagon is treated to $1 trillion of taxpayer money every two years continuously, and no one marches on the Pentagon.

  • NYPD Attack on OWS and the End of the First Amendment
    • I will stand corrected on th "public space" commnet. It may be private space, but Bloomberg is clearly treating it as public space, and the owner does not seem to be playing a role at all. Bloom berg also appears to be violating court orders. Erosion of civil rights is definitely an issue here. Sorry.

    • As far as I can tell Zucotti Park has never been public space. It was created as a trade off for permission to build higher by US Steel on property adjacent to its office building, and such agreements are usually made by the private party conceding private property to public use. I'm not sure I would concede that if a private party provides public access to its property it loses the right to control that property by doing so.

    • Well, I am in sympathy with OWS, free speech and right to peacefully assemble, but I also like facts. The last time that Zucotti Park was to be cleared for cleaning it was at the request of the company which owned the park and, although such was not reported, I suspect that we will find it was done at their request this time. The government must allow free assembly, but private parties do not have to.

      I certainly share your concerns about the erosion of civil rights and the governmental control of the media, but not every instance of something that we don't like is nesessarily an ecample of such erosion or control.

      The government may properly prevent the press from interfering with law enforcement in the proper execution of their duties. Media is routinely barricaded from crime scenes, for instance, and is restrained from entering arenas where there is a potential for violence. Would you say that preventing the media from entering the bank along with a hostage negotiator is a violation of the constitution? Or preventing them from accompanying police when they enter the compound to quell a prison riot?

  • Perry's Lapse likely owing to Bad Faith and Destructive Politics
    • "I think it was a bad conscience that produced the gaffe."

      The thought does you credit, but you give Perry entirely too much credit, and you do so in the face of far too much evidence which contradicts your position.

  • A Hot Wet Thousand Years and 10 Green Energy Stories to Avert it
    • We are thinking of ways to generate energy, when we should be looking at ways to use less energy. I'm not talking about a few less watts in our light bulbs or a few more miles per gallon in our cars, I'm talking about not using light bulbs at all and building a society that doesn't use cars.

  • Islamic Law not a problem in Bush's Afghanistan & Iraq, but a Problem in Libya?
    • Not to mention that the people who scream the loudest about the idea of Libya being an "Islamic Nation" are the same ones declaiming the most vociferously that the United States is a "Christian Nation" and are yammering about abortion laws.

  • Karzai: Afghanistan would Side With Pakistan in War with US
    • Well, yes, there is that, and it would be better evidence than merely saying that he is nuts because he says he doesn't trust the US.

    • Karzai has a mental problem because he regrets allying himself with the US does he? I won't argue that he may have a mental problem, but I would hardly cite his regret for his US alliance as proof of it. The US allied itself with Ghadaffi, and with Mubarek, and you see how well that worked out for them. If I was a corrupt despot allied with the US at this point I would be seriously regretting that alliance myself.

  • Sanctions on Iran will Never Produce Real Change
    • Did not Obama campaign on the premise that he would negotiate with Iran? IIRC he drew harsh criticism from Clinton because he said that he would meet with Iran's leadership "without preconditions" and she spouted some nonsense that doing so would seriously weaken the United States.

  • Mayor Bloomberg and Occupy Wall Street by the Numbers
    • First, I am in complete sympathy with and support of Occupy Wall Street, and if my age and health permitted would be there with them. We have for too long sat silent, and the fact that we are speaking up delights me.

      That being said, this 99% number disturbs me a bit. The people protesting should only claim the support of those who are on their side, and while I know they are protesting against the 1% (the richest), they say "We are the 99%" while only 54% actually approve of them, and only 68% say the rich should pay more taxes. Yes, I am in the 54% and the 68%, but still.

      On the matter of Zucotti Park and the "cleaning" thereof, if this were a public park their objection to that would be totally valid, but this is private property. If they are protesting in support of American principles, do they not weaken that a bit by occupying private property against the wishes of its owner?

  • Wagging the Dog with Iran's Maxwell Smart
    • "Obama, Holder, Mueller and Petraeus, none of whom is a complete moron"

      Um, you have heard Obama say that we are fighting the war in Afghanstan in order to "deny them the space in which to plan their attacks" right?

    • It never fails to amaze me; the things that our high government officials can stand at a microphone as say witn a perfectly straight face.

      Including giving as a purpose of the war in Afghanistan, "We are denying them space in which to plan their attacks," which is at least delivered in good grammar.

  • Is an Iranian Drug Cartel Behind the Assassination Plot against the Saudi Ambassador?
    • The $100,000 was wired, according to the New York Times, while he was visiting Iran. Does the US monitor transactions between Iran and mexico? The DEA knew of it because it was wired to a DEA agent in Mexico.

      NYT also says he was charged with check fraud and that the charge was dropped. He had traffic violations and was convicted of driving without a license.

  • Pro-Perry Evangelical Leader says Romney not a Christian, Mormonism a Cult
    • "But some 44 percent of Republican primary voters in 2008 were evangelicals,"

      Which points out just how broken our electoral system is, and why I am so consistently presented with such unacceptable candidates in the general election. I vote in primaries, but I am drowned out because I am one of the few non-crazy people who bothers to do so.

  • Palin was Right About those Government Death Panels
    • "Philip K. Dick couldn’t have made this stuff up."

      Niether could Orwell have done.

      The arguments about us being "at war" are simply disheartening. The only possible reason for that argument is to justify the kind of action that results in loss of civil liberty at home, and death and destruction abroad. Of what use is the claim if you are not imposing restrictions at home? You might use the claim to raise taxes to pay the cost, but we are not doing that. You might use the claim to justify not doing other things, but we are not doing that either. We are using the claim, here at home, to justify the "Patriot Act" and the "MCA" and other such restrictions on civil liberties. We are using that claim abroad... Well, we all know how we are using that claim abroad.

      The only provable act Awlaqi committed was to publish statements to the effect that people who hated America had some valid reasons for doing so. The government then announced that he had committed actions which they could not prove, and killed him. What they did was prove that his statements were true.

  • Amanda Knox and Troy Davis
    • In Italy, the facts of the case can be challenged in appeal; in America, even if later to be found in error, they cannot. In Italy, facts discovered after the trial can be introduced; in America they cannot. Is that crazy, or what?

  • New York and Cairo Protests Show Egyptian 1% more Responsive than the American
    • "The protesters have many demands, but a central one is that the Federal government should be representing the lower 99% of income earners, and not just the top 1 percent."

      If their protest is against what the government is doing, why are they in Wall Streen and not in Washington, protesting at the seat of the government?

  • Al-`Awlaqi Should have been Tried in Absentia
    • Thank you, Juan. There are too few people saying this.

      But it would seem to me, that the fifth amendment, forbidding persons to be "deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law" would seem to rule out even the passage of legislation giving the president "authority to behave in this way." Perhaps you were being coy.

      If someone pulls out a gun in Macy's window and commits murder, and is seen by dozens, the police may not execute him except in self defense if he then clearly threatens them or others. To be put to death for the first murder, of which there is no doubt he is guilty, he still has to be charged, tried by a jury of his peers and convicted. Or he has to be afforded whatever other "due process of law" he agrees to.

      So the mere assertion of what al-`Awlaqi did, EVEN IF 100% ACCURATE, is insufficient. We are still required to follow due process.

  • Sound and Fury: Americans Actually Lightly Taxed
    • Is that a reflection of taxes at all levels of governmemnt? Federal, state and local? Because if it is federal only, I believe it might not be painting an accurate picture, since the US is somewhat less federalized than most of the other nations listed. I'm not certain of my facts, but what is the level of taxation by "states" in Germany, and what degree of functionality does that governance have?

  • A Story More Important than Debt Limit Kabuki
    • "Obama has withdrawn tens of thousands of troops from Iraq."

      That schedule was determined by the Bush Administration before it left office. Obama has withdrawn no troops whatever from Iraq. He is, in fact, trying to reverse the Bush plan and keep troops there longer.

      "Obama extended the Bush tax cuts because he was blackmailed by the Republicans"

      Doesn't matter why he did it. He did it. He made the deal and presented it to Congress, to the vast irritation of that body, which had a Democratic majority at the time.

      Your comment and rebuttal illustrate the short-sightedness of those who are blindly loyal to Obama and defend him even when he is wrong. I voted for him and will probably do so again, but not everything he does is the right thing, and his endless blaming of problems on others instead of focusing on solutions is one of his errors.

    • It's one thing to inherit a problem. It's another thing to inherit a problem and continue the policies you inherit while still blaming your predecessor.

      The Bush taxes are the problem? Obama extended them for two full years, cut taxes additionally and cut the payroll tax.

      The wars are the problem? Obama continued the Iraq war on the Bush schedule, surged the Afghanistan war, added Libya, accelerated the war within Pakistan, added the war in Yemen and added the war in Somalia.

      If wars and tax cuts are such a problem, why have Democrats not only continued the policies, but added to them once they gained control of government?

      The Democratic party had four full years, and Obama had two years, to implement policies to reverse these issues that they are blaming as being the problem, and they did not even try. Obama did not even ask for legislation to any of that effect and Democrats did not introduce any when they were in control of Congress.

      If government cannot solve our economic problem, then so be it. We will have to look elsewhere for solution. But it's time to admit that they are helpless to solvbe the problem instead of fecklessly blaming it on their predecessors.

  • Rebels offer Qaddafi Libyan Retirement
    • I have a hard time agreeing that it is "despicable" that members of Congress want to argue that Congress should be involved in decisions regarding instigations of hostilities against other nations by the armed forces of the United States. The constitution states that they have the responsibility to do that, and more than one federal court has ruled that that responsibility is not sublimated by any treaty, i.e. that this nation does not surrender its sovreignty when it signs a treaty with NATO or the United Nations.

      You may think that Congress is wrong to feel that they should assert their constitutional power, but it is hardly "dispicable" for them to do so.

  • Top Ten Mistakes in the Libya War
    • As to #3 the League called for intervention to prevent mass slaughter, they most certainly did NOT call for intervention for the purpose of deposing Qaddafi. Once it became clear that NATO's purpose was regime change, we are fortunate they did not bail out altogether.

      I would have said that starting the intervention with the stated prmary purpose of "preventing massive loss of life" and changing it only afterward to the ouster of Qaddafi would be probably the biggest mistake of the lot.

  • Carbon Emissions Record, Food to Double in Price
    • "Oxfam has just issued a warning that food staples will likely double in price by 2030, in part because of climate change."

      The problem with projections like this is that they don't include the assumptions upon which they are based. I assume (heh) that this projection is based on the "economic recovery" continuing on the path of the 1st quarter of this year but, as the 2nd quarter is beginning to demonstrate, that is very unlikely to happen.

      Projections tend to be self defeating, in fact. Oil prices are projected to reach $230/bbl, for instance, except that long before they reach that level the price of oil will have cratered the economy, driving the price of oil back down to $90/bbl.

      None of which means we should ignore rising food prices, of course, but these long term projections are just...

  • Hundreds of Thousands of Arabs Protest their Governments
    • "Among the demands of the largely Shiite demonstrators planning to come out on Saturday is that no US troops remain in Iraq after Dec. 31, 2011."

      This while our Secretary of Defence is actually in Iraq saying in public statements that we might be staying beyond that previously negotiated deadline if requested by the Iraqi government. Sometimes I wonder if the self-absorbed arrogant idiots who run our country are even listening to themselves as they speak.

  • Thomas Jefferson in Arabic
    • Oh, yeah, Juan you are a huge eaxmple of American Colonialism. I just have a mental image of you with, what, cowboy boots and a ten-gallon hat.

  • Is the FBI Lying to Congress about its Abuses of the "PATRIOT" Act?
    • I recall at the time, and in subsequent one move to modify the act, that there was discussion on the issue of actions being taken for national security vs. criminal investigational reasons and the FBI said words to the effect of "no, you don't need to build the formal safeguards in because you can trust us." I thought at the time that was nonsense.

  • White Terrorism
    • I will offer my thought one more time and say no more.

      The more that we apply the "terrorist/terrorism" label to events and perpetrators of violence, the more we raise a public outcry to “prevent terrorism” in this country. It is in the name of “preventing terrorism” that our government infringes on individual freedoms and places curbs on civil liberties. Does Professor Cole wish to create a society where we must provide identification, take off our shoes and submit to x-ray searches in order to attend a political rally? Perhaps even to enter a shopping mall?

      You think that can’t happen? Ten years ago I could not have imagined that I would submit to such a process in order to board an airplane. I do so now because that is our government’s response, its premise being that it will “prevent terrorism.”

      Let’s leave the alarmist rhetoric and fear mongering to politicians who feel the need to use it for the purpose of their own reelection.

    • You have two pictorial references, both of which refer to the subject as Ms "Giffords" with an "s," and throughout your post you refer to her as Ms "Gifford" without the "s." Careless at best, bordering on disrespectful.

      "I don’t think we can take too seriously the list of books he said he liked, as a guide to his political thinking."

      You then give a couple of reasons for your conclusion, not including that the list does not fit the picture you are trying to paint of him.

      I usually have a huge degree of respect for your writing, but this knee jerk reaction to cry "terrorist" is not the kind of reasoned thinking I am accustomed to seeing here.

  • Top Ten Myths about Afghanistan, 2010
    • I find the rebuttal to number 7 to be a bit of a non
      sequiter. I do agree that it's a myth, but whether any of the
      southern people have heard of 9/11 or not is not really relevant.
      Being there to being the 9/11 perpetrators to justice would justify
      our presence, but since they are not there that validation is
      bogus. Driving them out of Afghanistan would be a more or less
      believable excuse, but they are already gone, so scratch that one.
      "Denying them space to plan their attacks" or "denying them safe
      harbor" are mythical references in their entirety. All of these
      referemces to 9/11 debunk that a reason to be there very well. The
      fact that people in the south never heard of the event, not so

  • Why our Afghanistan War Dead don't Seem to be News
    • I think your evaluation is very much on point, and I would add a couple things.

      At the micro level much of the outrage is missing beacuse the dead are volunteers rather than draftees. Instead of "You forced him into this war and killed him," we have, "He died doing what he loved doing, defending freedom."

      At a more macro level we have the complicity of the corporate media, which will always serve the best interest of the current power structure; which has, at its core, the corporate money base.

  • Blair, Hitchens Debate Religion
    • Upon reflection, I withdraw my statement about the "bad work argument" being irrelevant. If Hitchens could demonstrate that religion did more harm than good, then he could invalidate the debate postulate, since "net good" would be implied in the statement, but that would be a stiff burden. Even so, the comparative argument of non-religious groups doing bad work would be irrelevant.

    • Blair seems to have lost the debate but, as a former debater myself, I know that the winner or loser of a debate has little to do with the subject matter and everything to do with the verbal skills of the participants. In fact, I won debates more easily when I was arguing the side of a debate that I did not believe, because it enabled me to focus more clearly on the subject and on presentation of logic. Tony Blair has far poorer verbal presentation skill than Hitchens, so I would be astonished if he did not come out on the short end of the stick.

      You point out the arguement of good works by religionists does not validate religion as a force for good because non-religious also do good work, but that is a comparative argumative, which would score negatively in a formal debate. The fact that other groups are going good does not have anything to do with the fact that religious groups are doing good; a group doing good is a force for good. The postulate is not that religion is necessary for there to be good work, only that it constitutes a force for good, which can be illustrated by it doing good and is not diminished by other forces also doing good. Blair, naturally, did a poor job of making that point.

      The argument of bad work by religion is actually irrelevant to the debate as stated, since the postulate did not state that it was a force exclusively for good, but again the fact that bad work is done by others, by non-religious groups, is comparative and not actually pertinent to the subject being debated.

      I know, debate coaches used to absolutely infuriate me, too.

  • MSNBC's Phil Griffith the Worst Person in the World, as Olbermann Joins Donahue, Banfield
    • Interesting that in all of the discussion on this subject, on both sides, I have not seen one mention of Olbermann's almost endless excoriation of Fox News and its various commentators for their political contributions to Republicans and his claims of the "lack of journalistic integrity" that such contribution and lack of disclosure reflects.

      Yet he and his supporters seem to think that when he is suspended for contributing to Democrats and failing to disclose it, that his suspension is merely for the contributions and not for any "lack of journalistic integrity."

  • Suzuki: Our Global Economy is not Sustainable
    • Actually, that is a little better than I thought it would be. It will get worse, of course. We have been enjoying our standard of living and assuming that equalization would mean the rest of the world rising to meet us. It cannot. Equalization will require us moving down to meet them. Will we do it? Ha. Not willingly, certainly.

  • Palin Fear-Mongers on Iran, Sharia
    • There is a trait which psychologists use called "projection." The deal is that I will accuse you of having my faults so that I do not have to recognize and deal with those fault within myself. I have seen that at work many times in people recovering from addiction, so I can vouch to some degree for its validity.

      Seems to me that the people most fearful of the Islamic culture imposing Sharia law in the US are people who would impose fundamentalist Christianist law in this country if given a chance to do so. The people most fearful of Iran getting a nuclear weapon and attacking Israel are the people who advocated attacking Iraq and Afghanistan and who now want to attack Pakistan and Iran.

      And we claim the "self awarness" is what sets us apart from animals.

  • Update on German Terrorist Plot
    • I'm sure you heard the story of The boy who cried "Wolf'." We have heard this so many times. Bad times for the party in power, terrorist plot avoided by American intelligence. Some day it will be true and nobody will believe it. Maybe this is the time. If so, the ledgend has been fulfilled, because I don't believe it.

      The proper thing to do if they do prevent such an attack is not brag about it. Not use it as a "causas belli" for more drone attacks. Not use it to whip up anti-Islam fervor in the US. Not use it to justify more war spending. Not use it to justify more American soldiers becoming dead and maimed for a longer time in an unjustified and purposless war. Not use it to escalate an ever upward spiral of hate.

  • Major al-Qaeda Attacks on European Cities Said Foiled
    • "intelligence that the cells were planning to hit ..."

      Yeah, sure, we've heard all this before. Every time Bush was getting beaten up on we heard of some major terror plot intercepted. Obama has copied Bush is pretty much every aspect of the GWOT, it's hardly surprising that he would copy this one as well. "I am keeping you safe because I just intercepted another plan to kill all of you while you were sleeping in your beds. Vote for Democrats." Been there, done that.

  • O'Donnell wonders why Monkeys aren't still evolving into Humans
    • I'm not sure I get the media and bogosphere's fascination with Christine O'Donnell. You want me to vote against Carly Fiorina (which I'm going to do anyway) because a nutjob is running in Delaware? What does my California vote have to do with Delaware? What does a Delaware race have to do with me? Does O'Donnell's behavior mean that Fiorina is crazy? She's not crazy, she's merely repulsive.

  • Collapse of Kabul Bank Points to Fatal Corruption of Karzai Government
    • "1,172 US troops dead in the Afghanistan War, and all the other brave NATO and Afghan soldiers who gave their lives for a new Afghanistan."

      Why are American lives and American treasure being expended to "build a new Afghanistan" while people here at home are standing in lines of desperation for food, living under bridges, unable to find meaningful employment, and our own infrastructure is crumbling? If the people of Afghanistan want a "new Afghanistan" let them build it for themselves. When we wanted a "new America" did anyone come build it for us?

      What is the sense of a plan that makes us spread around the globe trying to create "new this" and "new that" while allowing our own country to deteriorate into a crumbling junkpile of street corner beggars and collapsing bridges.

  • Kurashige: The Islamic Center and the “Pearl Harbor” Analogy
    • As much as I enjoy the sentiment expressed, having the Queen visit a property is not quite the same as building a building adjacent to it. The analogy would be more apt if it were along the lines of the Queen building a palace next to the White House that her ancestor burned and, I think, "patriotic Americans" would raise a stink about that.

      That being said, I believe that even having this discussion about the misnamed "Ground Zero Mosque" dishonors this nation, in precisely the same way that the discussion regarding torture did. The outcome doesn't really matter; the mere fact that we are willing to have then discussion is a rank disgrace.

  • Dear Rev. Graham: Obama was not born a Muslim and neither is anyone else
    • Thanks for the excellent commentary, which confirms what I had suspected as to "being born Muslim.".

      I agree with every bit of your conclusions as to what the demagouges are doing and why they are doing it. I wish I could be as sanguine as your expression as to their failure. Certainly Guliliani and Huckabee crashed then, but this is now, in a financial evironment that is not recovering, shows little sign of recovering, and shows some sign of worsening. Race baiting has always been the tool of demagouges in times of economic hardship, and it has almost always taken hold. It could do so in these times and speaking out against it, as you do here, is crucial.

  • 59 Dead, 120 Wounded in Iraqi Suicide Bombing;
    Iraqi Parties reject US Power Sharing Proposal
    • Of the bombings as a reflection of the guerillas' hope of taking over: "It does not. All it can do is retard somewhat Iraq’s economic and political process." That seems right to me, especially after they were being paid to maintain peace and were assured by the American "surge" of a followup role and now the payment has stopped and the followup role has been denied. They respond with "If I don't get mine then you don't get yours either."

      And, as Michael points out, that fits with your eleganty put, “The guerrillas, once having had a serious political agenda, have become nothing more than serial killers taking revenge on reality for their irrelevance.”

  • Dear Climate Change Deniers
    • The first item is weather. Those of us who are convinced that this planet is overheating wer quick to point out that last winter's snowstorms were weather, not climate, and that they did not serve as pointers to the state of the planet. We cannot have it both ways, claiming that cold weather doesn't count but that hot weather does. Doing that weakens our argument rather than strengthing it, because it means we are willing to use false claims.

      I can't say as to the second one, but what is falling from Greeland is from a glacier, not an ice shelf, and pieces of that glacier have been falling into the sea pretty much forever. This one is the largest ever recorded, and the glacier is moving at a much faster pace than ever recorded before. Those are evidence that the planet is heating up, but the mere face that pieces of the glacier (not "ice shelf") are falling into the sea is not.

      When we use hyperbole and flase logic to promote or defend our cause we become as them. The cause does not need that. It can be defended with true facts and valif logic.

  • Portugal's Green Energy Revolution and the true Cost of Gas, Coal and Oil
    • "cheap electricity in the United States is only cheap if one looks at the industry in a vacuum."

      Unfortunately, that is the only way costs will ever be viewed in the United States; the dollar out-of-pocket cost to the consumer. This is the country where every measure that requires the government to do more is a winner, and every measure that raises taxes is a loser.

  • NATO Secretly Planning to Leave Afghanistan by 2014;
    5 NATO Troops Killed
    • "But the US and its NATO allies can’t get out unless the ANA does step up."

      Since the fight is against us, and for the purpose of driving us out, who will the ANA be "stepping up" against in the event that we pack up and leave? There have been many cases reported, some of them reported by you, where the locals preferred the Taliban to what the Afghan government provided.

  • Big Oil's Predations are not Your Fault
    • Well, who elected these guys to office and, having done so and having not bothered to watch their performance in office, reelected them at a 94% rate, leaving them in office for an average tenure of 40 years? Election to Congress in the United States is initiated by a political party that puts you on the ballot, but it is made a lifetime office by voters who "disapprove of Congress" by an 88-12% margin but who "approve of my guy" by a 90-10% margin and reelect accordingly.

      This is still a democracy, but it is not a functioning one because barely half of the people vote, and the majority of the ones who do vote do so in a state of utter ignorance, simply pulling the lever for the incumbent, or the one for which they have seen the most advertisements. Blame the politicians for taking advantage of the situation? Or is it the fault of the voters who created the situation?

  • Rachel Corrie Intercepted;
    The 9 activists killed last Monday were shot 30 Times
    • "If you were menaced by an advancing crowd, would you stand around shooting the same person 4 times?"

      Not to disagree with any part of your post, with which I agree totally, and not to try to diminish your outrage, which I share totally, but given the rate of fire of the Israeli automatic weapons, it might be difficult to shoot them less than four times. The issue might be boarding with the weapons "locked and loaded."

  • "This Scares Everybody" says BP:
    Top Kill Fails, Imperils Gulf;
    "There are no Solar Spills"
    • First, it's not British Petroleum! The company has not carried that name for many years. It's BP. Cable news pundits and commentators are making the same mistake, assuming they will sound more authoratative if the use the "full name" of the company, and merely revealing how little study they have given to the company they are criticizing. BP dropped the "British" in their name when they merged with Amoco and, while they remained nominally British, became largely American in ownership.

      The map which displays the size of the spill to one's home town, it should be pointed out, displays only the KNOWN extent of the spill. It does not include the underwater plumes, the extent of which are unknown at this time.

  • Kirchner: Bush angrily said War would Grow US Economy
    • I have long disagreed with the truism that World War 2 ended the depression. The war itself took a lot of men off the breadline, but it was rebuilding a war-shattered world after the war that ended the depression.

  • Petraeus Memo Widens scope of US Military Covert Operations in ME
    • I think Obama was our last chance, and my hope that the chance that he represents is rapidly diminishing. He promised to close Gitmo, and then he promised again to close Gitmo, and then he shut up about Gitmo. He promised to restore the constitution, and then he didn't close Gitmo, and he decided to try a bunch of guys with military tribunals, and he decided guys in our prisons in Bagram are exempt from habeas corpus, and he decided to assasinate some American citizens, and his AG decides Miranda is an unnecessary impediment, and he decides that people we tortured can't be tried at all and should be imprisoned forever without trial. So what he meant by "restoring the constitution" and my vision of what that means are two very different things.

  • Taliban Resemble Successful Insurgencies
    • I haven't read the study, but I wonder if it encompasses the case where a weak, corrupt government is being supported by a foreign army in going against an indigeneous insurgency, and porvides a frequency of the insurgency being defeated in such cases.

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