Member Profile

Total number of comments: 60 (since 2013-11-28 15:54:57)

Clif Brown

retired from work as a TV broadcast engineer for ABC


Showing comments 60 - 1

  • Iraq: Eastern front against ISIL slowed by Internal Divisions, Unenthusiastic USAF
    • Do I understand this right? The anti-IS forces whose land IS has taken are saying "we're not going to do anything unless the U.S. does something." Does IS wait for help before acting? How can IS be destroyed if the natives on the ground are refusing to give their all regardless of what the U.S. does?

  • Donald Trump's Secret Weapon in GOP Contest: Fox Cable "News"
    • I think the man will be drawn out to speak ever more wildly, riding a wave that will suddenly collapse. If Fox panders to this, it will also see a crest in popularity that will evaporate. In other words - Fox and Trump - bring it on. Anger can only fuel extremism to a point in America. That point comes when people suddenly say "this is ugly" and the balloon pops. Bull Conner did wonders for the civil rights movement.

  • Demonizing as Policy: Washington Elites divided over which state to declare Enemy No. 1
    • Haven't we been down the Cold War road before? I think all agree that nuclear weapons cannot be unleashed. There is no possibility of massed armies now because they are too easy to target with conventional weapons, let alone a nuke that destroys the whole.

      After repeated wars that left Europe supine and broke, the EU has shown that something was learned from experience, that blustering heads of state can bring on catastrophe, that one should always look for non-violent solutions to problems. You'd think from the talk of Republicans that nothing could be more hoped for than war to set things straight.

      Can any empire see reason without being brought to its knees from its own grasping at unattainable permanence? We are not the country we were at the end of WW2 by any measure regarding the rest of the world. There is magical thinking going on in DC.

  • The Middle East Policy of President Bernie Sanders
    • your are exactly right, Helen.

    • Sanders will serve a good purpose if all he does is share a stage in debate with Hillary, The Anointed One. He can get specific when she tries her usual vague statements, daring her to say things she would rather leave unsaid.

  • Does Rand Paul have Anger Issues?
    • Isn't anger a Republican trademark? Fox news bristles with angry people. Dick Cheney is a study in (barely) controlled rage. Senator McCain angrily denounced those who dared to call out Henry Kissinger for the war criminal he is. The incidents involving Rand Paul are, by comparison, mild, but it is not a good sign when a candidate for president shows contempt for the press. The press, fawning as it is toward political power, is a representative of the public when it asks questions, because few of our politicians would give 30 seconds to an ordinary American asking questions unless in a carefully scripted scenario of a politician's own devising.

  • Netanyahu & Boehner: How Israel went from being a Democratic to a Republican Project
    • Spyguy - you make good points, but the view from rural America is expressed by Mike Huckabee who claims that those in the cities are living in a bubble. I think the perception is still that white America is "real" America and everything else is an aberration that must be stopped. The relentless march of demographics won't stop ever more strident and extreme behavior from the right, let's just hope its ability to determine national policy will soon diminish.

  • Obama to GOP: More Iran sanctions lead to War (& 7 other Foreign Policy points in SOTU)
    • I never watch the SOTU address because it's commonly such a grab-bag mixture of truth and falsehood, self-serving boasting and laughable attempts at humility. That there will be anything said that one can depend on...well, one might as well flip a coin to determine what the administration will do based on the president's words. Nevertheless, thank you for your careful analysis of what he said

  • Police Accountability more important than Bodycams
    • For insight into the problem of violence and lack of respect for individual rights characteristic of much of American policing, along with a chronicle of how the 4th amendment protections have been erased in practice, read Radley Balko's "The Rise of the Warrior Cop". Not something recent, the problems have been growing since Nixon was in office calling for "law and order" and have exploded with the "war on drugs".

  • How human-emitted Carbon Dioxide Circulates in Earth's Atmosphere (NASA)
    • The extreme highs for CO2 appear in the northern hemisphere in April and December, opposite seasons. The low appears in September. That's curious, I wonder why. However, looking at the legend, these visual extremes represent a difference of only 3 parts per million (out of a total of about 400ppm), so it gives a very exaggerated impression of change over the year.

  • Ebola & Immigrants and Muslims, Oh My! Operating the Fear Machine
    • Fear is the bread and butter of the media because it brings viewers. I worked for a TV network for 23 years and whatever was scary would invariably get the lead on the news, the local news rather than the national news back then, but the national news has gone steadily in the same direction. Where are you, Walter Cronkite?

  • Failure Is Success: How American Intelligence Works in the Twenty-First Century
    • To protect one's xxx, no matter what happens, the best thing is to DO SOMETHING! If a politician can point to money spent, agencies created or funding increased, that is proof of action. Wise reflection and caution only invite vicious condemnation when inevitably, stuff happens. Thus does the All-Seeing Eye continue to grow.

  • $22 Billion to Fight ISIL in same Year Congress cut $8.7 bn in Food Stamps
    • You are exactly right. It boils down to who makes up the constituency in a democracy. Unless steps are taken to prevent it, money power will be the constituency and that is what we have, a democracy for money (i.e. those who can afford to pay for lobbying).

  • Palestine Pres. Abbas will urge Int'l Boycott of Israel if US vetoes UN Resolution
    • This is so long in coming, but in a way it's good that it comes now after everything else has been tried and been shown to be only a playing field for Israel take more land. There is also not a soul left on the planet (outside of the U.S.) who can believe the U.S. is not subservient to Israel.

  • Syria to Afghanistan: US Military Policy hasn't Solved the Zone of Crisis & may Enlarge it
    • This reasoning is perfectly good, in fact, it seems obvious. The question then - why is the administration acting in such a counterproductive way? Is it campaign politics - the frenzy for action supposedly being popular with the public?

  • Must Muslim Americans Condemn ISIL? Must Turkish Jews Condemn Gaza War?
    • The key word is "forcing". No one should be forced to state their position, but for people to wonder about the position of individuals who are Jewish or Muslim, or of any other group, and to ask them respectfully what their position is, is quite understandable. In other words, there is a difference between a demand and a request that can be refused. Israel goes to great lengths to extinguish any distinction between the religion and the state, even refusing to use the term "Israeli" on ID cards. This is in keeping with the desire to erase the distinction between objections to what Israel does and anti-Semitism, something PM Netanyahu does regularly.

      Had I been living outside the U.S. when GW Bush rushed to war with Iraq, I would have welcomed people asking me if, as an American, I agreed with his actions. To summarize - it is right to respect each individual, but it is also quite natural to wonder about the views of members of this or that group and right that a question can be asked freely of anyone, individual to individual, without requiring that an answer be given.

  • Middle East "Allies" decline to Commit Forces, Resources against ISIL
    • Motivation is always a problem for the U.S., and understandably so. When we send troops to what might as well be another planet, they quickly wonder why, for their blood and effort, we are over there. The opposition, on home territory, is never short of motivation. Yet we endlessly meddle under the idea (that Obama expressed) that only the U.S. has the resources and resolve to do the job. This is pure rhetoric. It is IS that has the resources and the resolve. So, once again, a president acts in order to protect himself politically and we dive into another mess - to destroy IS? Alas, such groups are infinitely divisible and, if "destroyed", can be reincarnated any time a group wants to give itself the name. This is still the very same impossible to win war on terror that GWB declared, conducted by the man who said it was over.

  • Obama & Cameron find little Enthusiasm at NATO for new Iraq War
    • I'm curious why air power seems so limited in effect. I recall reading of how the British effectively used bi-planes against both the Turks (Ottoman Empire) and later Arabs in the same desert terrain as IS inhabits. We know that air power can be devastating against tanks and hard targets. Perhaps it is that the IS is so spread out that whatever ordinance is used from the air, while it could knock out an artillery piece or tank, can't do much against dispersed individuals, even if they are out in the open desert. I raise this issue because it seems strange that the most advanced weaponry proves not very effective against the most ancient kind of armed force, individual (human) fighters. One thing always seems the case with U.S. involvement - we outspend the enemy on weaponry by orders of magnitude. Also interesting the the A10 Warthog is up for decommissioning, an ideal aircraft for taking on ground forces.

  • ISIS: How to Defeat a Phony "Caliphate"
    • Victory is heady, any morality, religion, cause can be created to back it, no matter how absurd and irrational as seen from the outside. Genghis Khan was unstoppable and set a standard for creating fear with wanton destruction and killing (unlimited slaughter, piles of skulls as monuments, etc.). War is the food that keeps the killing machine going, victory the fuel of morale. It's when a large area is taken and the limits are reached that internal difficulties bring disintegration of what seemed like an unstoppable force. The fighters flock to IS, the people do not. IS shouts to the world "bring it on!" Let's not.

  • Why Would They Stay? Making Sense of ISIS and Iraqi Sunnis
  • The new Jewish exodus: Emigrating Israelis replaced by European Jewry
    • if you're referring to my comment, Jason, sure.

    • One very large factor not mentioned is that in Europe, no government is making the kind of statements that are routine from the Israeli government. No European official is calling for Jews to leave or calling them beasts, etc. as we have come to expect from Netanyahu's cabinet. There is no self-righteous Golda Meir asking why the Jews force the French or Germans to write anti-Semitic graffiti on synagogues (I was astounded that her words were used in the recent pro-Israel ad in the NYT - there are those who take it at face value!).

      In fact, the kind of talk that is routine in Israel's government would be immediately called out and condemned if spoken about Jews in Europe's halls of power. For all the idiocy of individual European bigots, it is clear that Europe has not forgotten the lessons of WW2, while it seems that Israel, always calling for remembrance, has.

  • Iraq: Another Town besieged by IS: Is Amerli the next Sinjar?
    • Steve - a couple of thoughts - it might be that these other parties have seen the disasters that come with U.S. intervention and don't want to duplicate it. Another reason could be they have grown to expect the U.S. to intervene and they stay out waiting for that to happen. Whatever the case, the neighboring parties certainly have a better take on the scene than we do from the other side of the globe.

    • I am mystified by the kind of warfare that is going on. When the U.S. fought in Vietnam, it liberally used Agent Orange to defoliate the jungle with the idea of exposing the enemy. In Iraq the land is desert. Outside of cities and towns there is absolutely no way to hide from aerial attack. Presumably, IS must be exposed as it moves from one town to another. Yet, I've heard U.S. military officers say there is no way air power can meet the challenge of stopping IS. While this is easily understandable in built up areas, how can these fighters not be sitting ducks when moving from place to place, particularly if using U.S. equipment that is easily identified?

  • Iraq: Bombs & Bullets vs. Political Process
    • Militias, militias and more militias. It puts me in mind of our 2nd amendment phrase "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state...". which is hardly what we are seeing in Iraq and Syria, where militias are completely unregulated and running wild. I fear that those who elevate guns in America have more the idea of a militia opposing whatever they don't like, than they do of a body of armed citizens, regulated by the government and defending freedom for all.

  • Iranian Woman wins Math Genius Prize, Iranian officials Obsess about her Hair
    • The advance of human freedom of expression is relentless and unstoppable. The best reaction to the fear of it is to let it pass.

  • Israel can't Afford to Lose Jews Like Me
    • This is exactly right. The dog that will not hunt is ethnic supremacy. It is the assumption that Israel can continue as one that escapes both Rosner and Schanzer. The fact that faces Israeli Jews is one that has been accepted and embraced by American Jews - people must live together. It is inevitable.

  • Is Rula Jebreal right about US Media Bias against Palestinians?
    • It isn't just national news organizations that slant things Israel's way. Here is the short account of the huge pro-Palestinian demo in Chicago last Sunday from WLS-TV (ABC), in front of whose studios thousands gathered to protest. Note the gratuitous inclusion of what I would call Jews in danger news, having nothing to do with the demo...

      CHICAGO (WLS) -- Members of the Chicago Coalition for Justice in Palestine staged a rally downtown Sunday afternoon, marching to the Israeli Consulate in the Loop.

      Earlier they staged a "Die-In" outside Tribune Tower to commemorate the Palestinians killed in Gaza.

      Tensions overseas also spilled into the North Side Peterson Park neighborhood, where police were called to the 6300 block of North Monticello Saturday morning after anti-Israel letters were found on six cars.

      An ABC7 Eyewitness News viewer says the letters threatened to bomb Jewish residents in the neighborhood if Israel continued to bomb Gaza.

  • The Fate of Dissenters in Al-Sisi's Egypt: The New "Disappeared"
    • Good to hear that. Thanks for the response

    • BTW - what is the status of the hundreds of Egyptians that were sentenced to death in March? Has a date been set for their execution or can we hope it is on hold? I know that the U.S. has restored aid money so no hope for leverage from that.

  • "Man-Up" Kerry tries to Swiftboat Ed Snowden
    • Mr. Kerry is a politician, a species known to say, and do, anything that is politically expedient, regardless of whatever beliefs may be personally held. For such a one to be castigating Edward Snowden, who exited a comfortable life for the sake of personal integrity, is beyond absurd.

  • Bush-Cheney Committed War Crimes: Terrorism Czar
    • Clarke ponders whether it would be useful to call Bush and company up on war crimes. This is a strangely apathetic way to speak of holding people responsible for criminal behavior. It is in keeping with the idea in Washington that the law is a blob of silly-putty that can be shaped as needed, that we can look at the law in many ways to see which is most convenient.

      Ask yourself if the police would watch a burglary in progress from their patrol car and ponder at length whether it would be productive to arrest the burglar for trial.

      The entire nation was witness to the frenzy with which the crime of the Iraq war was set up and put into action. There wasn't the slightest doubt that the administration wanted war and would not be deterred, that the sequential "reasons" for it were hastily concocted and, above all, that it was a war of choice. The perps are contentedly enjoying lavish retirements. Justice holds the scales blindly, but I see tears coming from under her blindfold.

  • Top 10 Attacks on US Embassies in Republican Administrations that Lindsey Graham doesn't Care about
    • I long for a straight presentation of the situation rather than the kind of smirking, sarcastic delivery given by Rachel Maddow and Cenk Uygur. There is no need for the "what a bunch of fools" delivery and it grates after a short while. Could Walter Cronkite please come out of retirement?

  • The Impunity of American Torture: From Abu Ghraib to Sen. Feinstein's Brawl with the CIA
  • ABC: Bush's Neocon Spokesman for Illegal US Occupation of Iraq Slams Russia for Crimea
    • The neocons express the views of the Israeli government, from everything I have ever heard from them. Fortunately, the only-one-view-permitted media wall is crumbling. See the excellent videos (recorded by CSPAN no less) from the recent meeting in DC about the "special relationship" that has us in such deep water internationally. I recommend in particular, panel number 4 of the event with lead-off speaker Stephen Walt of "The Israel Lobby" fame. Full list of panels is here:
      link to

  • American Public: Invasion of Afghanistan a Mistake, Speed up Withdrawal
    • Joe, and Bill:

      Taking territory and cities and claiming victory as a result is applicable to WW2 with standing armies. It's not applicable to guerrilla warfare. Vietnam was the perfect example of territory being meaningless. Nothing worked, not saturation bombing, not "strategic hamlets", not complete defoliation of the environment. Only the complete elimination of the people of the area, destroying the village in order to save it, could work, but only temporarily.

      Indigenous groups have the ability to spring back, as the Taliban has done, because they never disappear, they only fade into the populace, take off anything the identifies them (like the black turban of the Taliban) and wait for their chance. Patience is everything.

      This is why "Mission Accomplished" was such a farce and the Taliban are back. No outside power, regardless of power and wealth, wants to be bled endlessly by a native force that has nowhere to go and every incentive to keep grinding away at the foreign force, disliked no matter how highly that foreign force views its own motive.

      When I read about how Desert Storm of 1991 had cured the Vietnam syndrome that had placed doubt in the minds of the U.S. military, I knew that lessons learned in Vietnam would have to be relearned, and so it has proved to be with Afghanistan and Iraq.

      For a terrific history of Afghanistan, during which many forces have claimed areas large and small only to see their hold collapse, read "The Wars of Afghanistan" by Peter Tomsen.

    • Bill:

      Criticism is welcome, but it should be directed at what was written. I wrote "the plan COULD HAVE BEEN concocted in someone's living room." The training camps were an excuse for our attack. Even if we could have vaporized Afghanistan, and it's still true today, another terrorist plan could be hatched any time and any where.

    • Bill, I don't understand the logic of your first paragraph.

      9/11 was a result of flying airplanes and training for that which took place in the United States by Saudi nationals at flight schools here. The plan itself could have been concocted in someone's living room, having nothing to do with weapons training or camps in Afghanistan.

      In the event, bin Laden was not captured, did not stop plotting and communicating with Al-Qaeda, but a whole heck of a lot of people were killed by U.S. forces who would not have been able to locate the United States on a map.

      As we now know, there is no "rooting out" of such indigenous groups as the Taliban who always retain the capacity to bounce back and, in fact, are creating huge headaches for Pakistan, who promoted the movement in its early days.

      The fool's errand was the whole concept of the "war on terror", one that cannot be won any more than a war on anger, or dismay or discontent, but that by its conduct produces more who wish to engage in terror. This continues with the counter-productive drone strikes.

      The fact is, 9/11 demanded some serious killing and destruction by popular American demand, so a target was painted on Afghanistan, demands were made of Mullah Omar whose area of control was a tiny part of the country, and off we went. I still recall a large photo in the Chicago Sun-Times of a female fighter pilot smiling broadly in front of her parked plane on an aircraft carrier, with the caption, "She's bombing the Taliban!" What fun.

      Nobody is smiling now, but a whole lot of people over there have been killed in addition to our own losses and we've spent billions upon billions to accomplish...what?

  • Real Time Earth Wind Map
  • Interview with Jeremy Scahill Questions "War on Terror"
    • The iron fist is getting a pretty bad reputation. Back in the 18th and 19th centuries it seemed that European arms would send the natives fleeing allowing outsiders to take over, permanently in the United States.

      But now all the modern weaponry and an unlimited fund of dollars can't subdue the ragged Taliban who are poised to come right back after more than a decade of taking all the punishment the U.S. military can dish out.

      They have, of course, paid far more in lives than have we, yet we have squandered hundreds of billions of dollars, proof, if ever there was any, that the U.S. has money to burn...or at least good credit to burn.

      So why aren't we drastically cutting back the armed might that seems so helpless to accomplish what the military is supposed to accomplish? Enter drones and special ops to the rescue? That's not sustainable politically or here we go with the helpless giant scenario again.

      The cynic would say that winning or losing doesn't matter, it's the big sales of weaponry that count, not whether they are effective, and this of course only helps the transfer of wealth from the taxpayer to the already wealthy.

      Elect me president - my first act would be the conversion of all U.S. battle fleets to hospital fleets, on call worldwide 24/7, with state-of-the-art medevac ready for any emergency. Then watch the estimation of the U.S. rise in world public opinion.

  • US tries to Censor British Report on Secret Bush-Blair Push for Iraq War (Lazare)
  • The Business of America is Spying on America (Engelhardt)
    • secrecy was brought home to me today.

      You've probably heard about two Representatives, Griffith and Grayson, who tried to get information from the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers, and were refused, reportedly after by a voice vote to do so by the committee members, one of whom is my Representative, Jan Schakowsky.

      I called Schakowsky's office in DC today to find out how she voted. I was told that information is secret! This is secrecy over something twice removed from the actual information the two Reps inquired about. I thought at least a citizen can learn the vote of his/her Representative in Congress, but I guess only if approved who, exactly?

      By a little bit here and a little bit there is democracy destroyed.

  • The 400: What they don't want us to know about growing wealth inequality in America
    • Isn't this inevitable with capitalism if there are no countering forces to individual money-making? The more money you have, the more power you have, including the power to give yourself more money and secure your position.

      As Thomas Frank illustrated so well in "What's the Matter with Kansas", the rich and powerful have even managed to get the little guy ranting and raving about the evils of socialism and the progressive income tax even as he watches his income and standard of living decline.

      From the banksters who keep popping right back up, to the politicians (like Hillary) who do the same, to Mr. Clapper who lies to Congress with no consequences, the rich and powerful are a network that protects its own, a kind of invisible union of those who are outspoken on the evils of unions. This rich and powerful networking combined with the lack of a law limiting campaign financing to public funding is also behind the inability of the United States to exert even the slightest pressure on Israel. One of the first things a candidate for President must do is make a pilgrimage to Israel.

      Since members of the network occupy the three branches of government (though the House less so) and are the board members/CEO's of all the significant corporations, where is reform to start?

      We have a system that selects for those who crave money and power and that has given us a democracy of lobbies, not of the people.

  • Obama: "Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago"
    • Dear Mr. President - you have the government recording data, marking every single American, on the suspicion that every one of us is a potential participant in terror plots. These words of yours on Trayvon Martin indicate tunnel vision.

  • How America is Filling up itself and the World With Guns
    • Juan, you said "It may be that if you have invested in state of the art weapons, you want to use them before they become antiquated or before your enemies get them too."

      Indeed, I believe that the wild success of the 1991 multilateral (in fact mostly US) action in Iraq wowed those at the top, enabling a belief that US military force could accomplish almost anything. At the time it was widely said that the legacy of Vietnam - a feeling that military force was of limited use - had been overcome. This was considered a great benefit.

      Now we are once again able to see that, as Vietnam proved, military force is in fact of limited utility but hubris springs eternal. At this moment yet another huge aircraft carrier is under construction by the US. I fantasize what might happen if this ship were turned into the largest hospital ship the world has ever seen and the "battle group" that will surround it was dedicated to airborne/seaborne transport of those in need of medical attention from disease-plagued regions to which the "medi-group" of ships could sail.

      There is no chance of my fantasy becoming reality. Instead we will add another carrier to, what, the ten or eleven we already have. The capability to show our muscle, (which nobody doubts) rather than our mercy, (which the world seriously questions) will be further enhanced.

  • Firearms used in 300,000 crimes a year in US (Poster)
    • When the NRA becomes a major supporter of the ACLU I will believe that gun owners are sincere in their concern for individual liberty.

  • Questions I ask myself about Connecticut School Shooting
    • The number of assault weapons already possessed isn't an issue because in almost all cases the weapon used is recently purchased, usually no more than a week before the crime, not one used after being owned for years. It is the ease of purchase that is the problem.

    • The purpose of a gun is to stop an opponent. The professional gun user - a soldier - is not trained to minimize the damage done to a foe but to stop that foe as quickly and completely as possible, the death of that foe being no drawback. The tool the soldier uses is engineered to be highly effective in the work he does.

      In most cases, police forces were originally armed with clubs, even though guns were in circulation, because of the desire to prevent needless injury or death through too much force (a bullet) being applied.

      Yes, one can shoot at targets with guns but target shooting does not require a gun. You can use a bow and arrow, darts, sandbags, a ball, any object that can be thrown can be used for target practice. A tiny, high velocity, very dense projectile is superfluous unless one is trying to simulate shooting a living thing to bring it down, therefor practicing with hardware appropriate for the real task. But what a gun possesses that is so very attractive to many is that very power which is so far beyond necessity for anything but killing.

      Any gun is potentially deadly, even the smallest revolver is far more dangerous than a non-firearm, so the call for laws on assault weapons is no panacea, but for one factor in the kind of shootings we've seen. It is the fantasy factor; the imagery that assault weapons can bring to the mind of a disturbed person who plays out a scene of glorious power in command of the victims whose obvious fear and helplessness is no small part of the climactic end of a very troubled life with one person definitively in charge of everything - even if only for 15 minutes of wanton destruction.

      It isn't the killing that is the real high, it is the unquestionable power of the moment enabled by the status of the equipment being used - with which even a mouse can be god. The high is by definition brief because there is justice awaiting its due, where the god of the moment will be demoted to the cellblock. Suicide is almost always the signature closing act.

      Evaporating the fantasy is the top priority, so going after the "oh wow!" weaponry is job one. It won't stop gun enabled slaughter but it will put a dent in it while leaving those who wish to have a pistol for self protection to the ability to have it.

  • Mount Sharp, Mars (Photo of the Day from Curiosity)
    • Would anyone care to defend manned exploration of space? I sure don't think it makes a bit of sense when such fantastic robots like curiosity can answer our questions, have no need for life support, take long travel times in stride without psychological problems, need never come back to Earth, and cost a fraction of any manned mission. NASA's press release said Curiosity is "paving the way for man's footsteps on Mars." I sure hope not.

  • On Human unity and the "Curiosity" NASA Control Room
    • An artist acquaintance of mine created a collage of pictures, hundreds of them, documenting every aspect of the production of a dinner place setting. She traveled everywhere to photo the people who in one way or another had a part in getting the knives, forks, spoons, plates and glasses to the table. It was a marvelous piece of work featuring hundreds of people from miners to truck drivers to designers to caterers and all just to produce a place setting! We are all in this together, all of our lives intertwined in so many ways.

      The best way to change the minds of those who hate one group or another would be to have the objects of their hatred suddenly disappear, in order to see the result of the wish to see them gone come true. It would be surprising!

  • How Long will We let the National Rifle Association and Corrupt Politicians Kill our Children?
    • Juno - you're right, there could be no successful war on guns. Those most fascinated by them in a bad way (is there a good way to be fascinated with them? Maybe as antiques?) would go to great lengths to get them, but there could be documentation and tracking of all assault weapons. Can we at least cut down on the carnage?

      When the deranged attack, they don't go in with a small caliber pistol, but pack as much firepower as they can get. If slipping in to a scene un-noticed were the goal, tiny weapons would be used, but the usual case is some guy going in like a one-man SWAT team.

      There's a perverse glory in the act. All the screaming, the sight of blood, the looks of terror are a feast for the sensations of the killer. There is the rush of it all and then it's over - so suicide is common. Life in prison gets old quickly, and capital punishment for someone willing to kill himself is no deterrent. The identities of the victims are irrelevant, since they are bit players - it is the epic aspect of the act, the bringing of mayhem by one person, that is desired. Someone actually shooting back could even heighten the appeal.

      But how is this mindless mania seeded years before the event? What do we do to downplay the fascination with guns that we share with no other country? How do we get people to realize the power of guns to destroy when these awful massacres seem to have no impact and the appeal of gun-play in movies is well documented by the size of audiences for features that are almost non-stop violence?

      In movies, all it takes is a plot that convicts the bad guys at the start so that the following mayhem can be justified and, yes, enjoyed by all. It is a very tenuous thing that separates the vicarious delight of movie-goers from the emotional rush of the madman with a gun. Bodies exploding and ripped apart - how can it all get any more realistic in cinema - but have you ever heard of anyone standing up in a theater and saying "this is disgusting and repellent, I'm leaving!" I think such a person would be laughed at. Rather, audiences keep getting bigger...they actually want to see it, pushing the envelope of sensation.

      The madman simply takes it to the limit - he makes it real.

      How do we avoid a future of ever more of this madness? Can we only shrug our shoulders and say we are helpless? If only the perpetrator is responsible, why are there always more perpetrators? How are they created again and again and again?

    • The NRA is not at all interested in individual rights, freedom, or liberty as such. If it were you would see it continually appearing beside the ACLU in court, filing friend of the court briefs for the ACLU and devoting a portion of the money it collects to supporting the ACLU.

      The NRA is no more than what its name says, an organization for the promotion of, the use of and the ownership of guns regardless of events.

      Having grown up male in America, I've heard too many boys and men speaking with awe of the power of guns, getting wide eyed at "the size of that hole!" when looking at something a bullet has hit, being awed at the power of firearms in general. This history of mankind and weapons shows a close tie between arms of any kind and testosterone.

      A male friend of mine went for a cruise in Florida on a private craft with 4 or 5 other men. He was completely surprised when, while drifting at night close off a remote and (I hope) uninhabited part of the Florida coast, one of the men pulled out a semi-automatic rifle and proceeded to shoot off bursts from the side of the boat into the vegetation to acclamatory remarks like "listen to that baby sing!"

      A gun may be used as a tool, as comments here have said, but for many people a gun has an emotional effect due to the power it implies that bears no comparison to the use of a hammer or a screwdriver.

      It is no accident that guns feature prominently in movies, while hammers and screwdrivers are rarely seen. I would love to have a dollar for every movie poster I've seen over the years with someone holding a gun in one pose or another. An "action" movie means a movie with lots of guns.

      People are emotional creatures far more than they are rational. Emotional reactions are visceral and instant, rational reactions are delayed and need training. To believe that putting guns into more hands will somehow protect everyone and make for a safer environment betrays no recognition of such everyday things as road rage and simple anger. I would not carry a gun myself because I recognize I am human and prone to the emotions we all share.

  • Low Life Expectancy tracks with Opposition to Obamacare (Map)
    • If anyone wants a great explanation of this phenomenon, read Tom Frank's terrific book, "What's the Matter with Kansas". It goes into great detail about why those most damaged by Republican political actions are the very people who most stridently promote Republican candidates.

      Which is not to say that Obama's heath care program is a great thing, since the first priority in care that it deals with is that of the insurance and drug companies. The second priority was to protect by exemption those already covered by company provided plans. So it was another case of those that have and the first provided for and only then are those at the bottom dealt with.

      Insurance works better as the pool of the insured expands. The largest pool would be all Americans under a single payer plan that avoids all the insurance companies entirely.

  • Code Pink Takes on Obama's Drones (Woods)
    • I attended a meeting where Medea spoke and was disappointed to see that virtually everyone there was elderly (I include myself). She was clearly in command of her subject and spoke off the cuff for an hour. I was impressed and bought a copy of her book (which she autographed).

      Being part of a movement that is not popular is difficult. I keep myself going by knowing that regardless of whether anyone is convinced by my point of view, I am laying down a history of my stand on the issues. If nothing else, it will be known that I did not go along with the crowd and made my opposition clear.

      Drone warfare is a big thing right now because there is no effective response to it. At some point there will be countermeasures that will bring down drones easily and then they will join all the previous weapons systems that have to get more expensive and complex to stay ahead in the military game.

      The current "kill at will" capability that often causes innocents to die along with the intended victim seems to me to invite attack on the U.S. Unlike a military force on the ground that can be attacked in retaliation (as in Iraq and Afghanistan), drones are currently immune from counter-force at the scene, yet everyone knows the "pilots" are often back in the States living essentially civilian lives out of danger.

      For the United States to make drone attacks a routine practice as a substitute for the commitment of troops will only drive the level of hatred to unprecedented levels. Consider the effect if Americans were killed in America by a foreign power who reserved the right to decide which of us would die and when.

      All of this is an "Israelification" of U.S. military measures and we can all see how Israel's practices have made it a pariah steadily sinking to new lows in the view of every public but that in the U.S. according to the latest poll. It's safe to assume the decline of U.S. prestige, already well advanced, will follow in the downward direction. With drone attacks we are undermining ourselves politically and in terms of national security, even as the procedure appears (viewed superficially) to be cost-free.

  • Top Ten Reasons Israel tried to Censor Bob Simon's Report on Palestinian Christians
    • The report made my day because I know that CBS, sad to say, has legitimacy with mainstream America. To alert the masses, I sent out an email to many of my friends which included the following...

      As you watch Oren, can't you imagine him as your friendly neighbor next door, as pleasant and easy-going as one could imagine, and handsome too! Could such a guy tell anything but the truth?

      This is Israel's huge advantage in the United States - it has a large number of advocates for Israel who, like Ambassador Oren, look as American as can be, speak highly of Israel in the halls of power and, because of their open manner convey sincerity. With such folks speaking as they do, why would any American bother to find out the facts?

  • Khamenei Takes Control, Forbids Nuclear Bomb
    • The New York Times keeps a running record of different issues with "Times Topics" and one subject they track is Khamanei, staying right up to date (last entry is yesterday). There is no mention of the speech you highlight.

      I then used Google News to search for Khamenei's speech. I found it mentioned in the Asia Times, The Voice of Russia (radio) and an online newspaper about Iran called Payvand created by folks in Silicon Valley.

      Incredible! Someone should start a website called "What's Missing" that would do nothing but publicize what is avoided by the US media. Alison Weir had come close to doing this on her "If Americans Knew" site.

  • Santorum Can't Run Away from Limbaugh, who is just taking Santorum's ideas to their logical conclusion
    • A program called "Tool Time" discussing sexual matters? Under a Santorum administration, this kind of thing would be investigated!

      Rick and his ilk are ready to rage against Islam, yet the most fanatic Islamists (and a good number of orthodox Jews in Israel) spout the same kind of anti-sex nonsense as Rick.

      If Santorum gets nominated, Obama's re-election is a certainty.

  • Limbaugh and the best argument for Birth Control
    • Rush Limbaugh, the last person I would look to for an opinion aside, here's the logic I use:

      Health insurance covers one for risks. I might get sick or injured and need treatment, so I buy insurance to cover the potential cost. It makes sense to cover preventive care or medication because that will lower the risk of what might happen and therefor will lower the cost of insurance.

      For a woman, pregnancy is a risk. Accidental pregnancies are to be avoided. But the preventive idea is the same - things that will reduce the risk of the unwanted condition to occur in the normal course of life are to be encouraged by the insurer, who would normally be responsible for the cost of aborting an unwanted pregnancy.

      Compare this to a pill that would reduce the appetite being a good thing to cover for someone who easily puts on weight because the medical consequences of obesity are, pun intended, big. Isn't Viagra covered by insurance? Isn't that because it can help to maintain a sex life which is considered to be a normal part of life for a man?

      As I see it, the fuss is all about sexual activity. Sex is a normal part of life, just like eating or breathing, though some object to it being so and wish to isolate sexual practice to certain conditions they specify.

      If one thinks that sex is wrong unless for procreation, then the contraceptive coverage looks like providing something for a reprehensible recreational activity that is optional and has nothing to do with health insurance.

      Insurance, however, is all about risk. The insured is not required to be on a diet, for example, to avoid obesity. People get fat, people get injured, people get pregnant. In all these cases, premiums reflect the risk.

      My insurer is not my moral arbiter, nor would an insurance company want to be. It is the third party with authoritarian views wishing to intervene that is causing the uproar.

  • Gingrich Endangers US troops by Slamming Obama for Apology over Qur'an Burning
    • Amen to Zandru - the BBC, particularly Newshour and The World Today are always worth a listen.

      I never watch the debates because, with the exception of Ron Paul, the candidates usually speak as if the audience were ignorant fools with the most superficial understanding of topics. From audience reaction, one can only assume they are making a valid assessment. The only virtue of the format is that occasionally the speakers will goof and say something revealing.

      When it comes to presidential addresses, I refuse to watch but for a different reason - I know that every syllable has been carefully crafted with the president normally mouthing the words of others which he has OK'd in advance. Add in the lofty, self-righteous delivery of Obama and his history of saying one thing and doing another - it's unbearable.

      One need only read a few pages of the text of the Lincoln-Douglas debates to realize how far we fallen from respect for the electorate.

  • Iran the Beautiful

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