The Syrian Situation from Russia’s Eyes as interpreted by the Chinese

MOSCOW, June 9 (Xinhua) — Russia was completing its air defense contracts with Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Saturday. The contracts were signed and paid for long ago, and the systems could be used “only if” Syria faced foreign attacks, Lavrov told reporters.

Russia would not ship anything to Syria outside of these contracts, the minister said, adding it was not providing the Syrian government with any weapons against “peaceful demonstrators.”

The minister slammed what he said were outside forces who were fueling the violence in Syria by “openly providing” support to the armed groups and the opposition in Syria. He warned the country was on the brink of a “full-scale civil war”. Russia had decided at the very beginning of the Syria turmoil not to provide it with arms that could be used to “suppress domestic unrest,” Lavrov said.

For those that haven’t been watching, it is Russia and China who are holding back the U.N. from greenlighting a mission much like the one in Libya. There is also a much greater chance of arming an opposition group that is far more hardline against U.S. interests and still fully aligned with Iran’s interests as well.

Hopefully the formal end of this contract will help push Russia to allow some intervention.

China is a tougher nut to crack, as they are cracking down on a Tibetan resurgence fueled by multiple self-immolations…I.e. how true warriors of peace fight). The recent incontrovertible evidence of Syrian atrocities is also slowly moving the world to action. Election season worldwide doesn’t help.

Russia completes air defense contracts with Syria
Xinhua | English.news.cn http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-06/09/c_123259276.htm

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One again, time will tell…but this looks like yet another Foreign Policy Homerun for the Kenyan Muslim Usurper

WASHINGTON –  North Korea raised hopes Wednesday for a major easing in nuclear tensions under its youthful new leader, agreeing to suspend uranium enrichment at a key facility and refrain from missile and nuclear tests in exchange for a mountain of critically needed U.S. food aid.

It was only a preliminary step but a necessary one to restart broader six-nation negotiations that would lay down terms for what the North could get in return for abandoning its nuclear weapons program. Pyongyang pulled out of those talks in 2009 and seemingly has viewed the nuclear program as key to the survival of its dynastic, communist regime, now entering its third generation.

via North Korea Says It Will Halt Nuclear Activities | Fox News.

The agreement, as per, includes the verification step so necessary to make this stuff happen.

It also opened the way for international nuclear inspections after years when the North’s program went unmonitored.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the agreement, which was announced at separate but simultaneous statements by the long-time adversaries, was a modest step but also “a reminder that the world is transforming around us.”

“We, of course, will be watching closely and judging North Korea’s new leaders by their actions,” Clinton told a congressional hearing.

I’m all for giving the new kid a chance to be decent and get NK back to being part of the human race.

Basic Economic Math for U.S. Americans (re: Taxes, Revenues, Debts, Deficits, and Defaults)

Remember when you were in the seventh, or maybe eight grade, and your teacher came in and said you were going to learn something called “Algebra”?   Remember how you were all like, “What could I possibly ever need to know this for?!  I’m never going to need to know this stuff!”.

Guess what?  This week is that week.  This is why you need to know this stuff.

We have some fairly important decisions to make in the near future as U.S. Americans on the direction our country needs to take.  I’m sure many of you have divergent opinions on what that direction is, or what we need to do to get there.  So do I.  This post isn’t about that.  This post is about math.  Basic economic math.

Without having this foundation in verifiable, repeatable reality (1+1 always equals 2 in basic math), it is difficult to build a framework of understanding for large and complex systems.  If you don’t know how much of something something else is, or if it’s becoming smaller or larger relative to that thing, it’s hard to make important decisions regarding how you would like things to change (and how to functionally make that happen).

I’ve touched on this subject before.  I think it is fundamental to the disconnect we are now experiencing in this country.  We suck at math.    So without further ado…let’s define terms.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT WORD?!

The two most important numbers in the debt equation are the Debt [D] and GPD [GDP].   Debt is *numerator*.  GPD is the *denominator*.   This gives us a debt-to-GDP ratio.   D/GDP = Debt Ratio.

The largely agreed upon goal for the U.S. economy, that is considered “stable” by pretty much everyone, is a 50-60% Debt to GPD ratio.  What this means is that at any given time, we are carrying a debt load that is slightly larger than one-half (.6 or 60%) of our yearly earning power.    Countries in such a balanced situation to do a few things easily…one, they can borrow quickly and cheaply to deal with crises; two, they can quickly pay down debt if need be to smooth out boom/bush business cycles and three, they aren’t as exposed to downturns in others markets (as opposed to a country with no debt that instead uses a “sovereign wealth fund“).

So…now we have the main component of this this quation…the D/GPD ratio.

You have probably heard a LOT a about “spending” over the past few months, and how it is “out of control”.   You may have even seen some folks cite *yearly deficits* as evidence that “spending is out of control.”

A deficit (and it’s alter ego the “surplus”) is simply the difference (negative for deficits, positive for surplus) between the amount of revenue the government takes in and the amount of spending it puts out.

Part of the disconnect that is happening right now is we are seeing huge deficits, focusing solely on the “spending” side of the equation, and don’t seem to be largely aware how badly *revenues* have dropped off during the recession.

To simplify:  Revenues [R] – Spending [S]= Deficit(-)/Surplus(+) [I]

HOW DO ALL THESE THINGS WORK TOGETHER?!

Remember how I mentioned how there would be Algebra?   Here’s where it all comes together…..(and perhaps, can all fall apart).

There are two final factors that need to be addressed before we can get a final equation that captures the situation.  The are interest rate (i) and growth (G).   Interest, in this case, is interest on our debt.   Growth, in this case, is the change in GDP.

This gives us a Debt-to-GPD ratio that looks like this:

(D+I)*i/GPD*G = Debt-to-GPD Ratio

Which read as  “Debt (D) plus income (I) times interest rate (i) divided by GPD times Growth.

Notice that last equation.  We’ve been hammered by folks that this whole problem is caused by a single thing *spending*.   However, when we look at the whole forest instead of that one tree, we see that spending is a part of the annual deficit/surplus which changes the debt which is the divided by GPD that has been multiplied by the amount of growth (both positive or negative).

When someone says spending “is the whole problem”, they are lying to you through omission.    The deficit/surplus isn’t solely created by spending, it is the *difference between spending and revenues*.     As I’ll illustrate in the next segment of this piece, a good portion of recent huge deficits have been created by corresponding huge drops in revenue.

When you understand that “spending” is one of that largest factors in GROWTH, you should start to wonder about what the point of cutting spending, and hampering growth, is going to do to *help* our overall fiscal situation (the GDP-to-Debt Ratio).

Cutting spending during a recession is like taking the foot off the gas and declaring, “We’ll coast up this hill!”

Coming in the next Part…

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT RECENT U.S. AMERICAN HISTORY BY U.S. AMERICANS?! (these are actual responses to actual questions I’ve answered over the past few days…hopefully this covers yours as well)

Questions for Republicans And Livebloggin the First Debate

First up a is a quick video I made the other day.  It’s got a couple of those “gotcha” basic, simple questions that illustrate the fundamental issues with the Republican worldview in the 21st century.    That’s here…

My liveblogging notes are below.   A couple things that I’ve noticed in retrospect: 1) Every single candidate endorsed or doubled down on George W. Bush’s policies. If you thought he was an anomaly, forget it.  He’s the model of a 21st century Republican.   2) They never, ever mentioned the last guy who did what they want to do, or how that led directly to economic catastrohpe and the need for a “failed stimulus”.

Live notes are below…the full transcipt can be read here.

RobotPirateNinja: So far, five ads have loaded and launched perfectly. The debate itself, however, crashes every time, on every browser.

CNN, this is why you’re a joke.

RobotPirateNinja:  Wow, the EPA stands for “Job Killing Administration”. I did not know that.  (Bachmann)

RobotPirateNinja: Looks like “cut taxes” is the answer to everything, including the debt.

RobotPirateNinja: Everyone does know that “right to work” means “right to get fired for any reason” right?

RobotPirateNinja: I love how after the car bailout worked, it’s now a failure.  Wild. All of these folks wanted to sell GM to China.

RobotPirateNinja: Newt: “We can’t go to space anymore. Those robots on Mars? Obviously the opposite of innovation.”

RobotPirateNinja: ‎”NASA is in the way of the future.” – Newt….wild…this is crazy trumping crazy, multiplied by nuts.

RobotPirateNinja:

NEVER, EVER, HIRE SOMEONE FOR A JOB THAT HATES THE JOB.

You wouldn’t hire a dogcatcher that hates dogs, why elect a President that hates government? A window washer afraid of heights? No.

I’m watching this “who can hate government the most contest”…and then I’m thinking…all of these people are running for a government job…and they hate government…this is insane. It does explain most of their positions, though.

RobotPirateNinja: Hermain Cain is going to put 13,000,000 people to work…by not spending a dime. He’ll tell you how right after he’s elected.

RobotPirateNinja: Why do these folks want to keep sending money to the private sector, when private profits have never been higher, and public debt is the same (never higher)?

My god, Romney just said we need to return money to the private sector…THEN TALKED ABOUT THE DEBT. These people don’t even get the basics…or maybe it’s the people they are trying to appeal to that don’t understand.

RobotPirateNinja: oooh, fun, the Ryan Plan….Pawlenty…we’re just screwing over your kid, it’s all right.

RobotPirateNinja: Check that, Pawlenty has his OWN plan…the rush from Ryan begins.

RobotPirateNinja: John King is pathetic…”uh…uh….uh…..uh…….uh…….uh.” Just cut their dang mic.

RobotPirateNinja: Newt points out that the Ryan Plan is toxic….oh…but he’s killing Medicaid. (which largely goes to poor…old people).

RobotPirateNinja: Santorum jumps in with two feet. Ryan Plan all the way. This is why he’s not a serious candidate.

RobotPirateNinja: Herman Cain, the reason we have problems is because they haven’t been solved yet. Yes…Herman…the Ryan Plan *does* throw that grandkid out the chair…ummm…you just railed against your own idea.

RobotPirateNinja: Chil-ay. Cool place, I guess.

RobotPirateNinja: Here comes the Galveston fact-check, I’m guessing Herman loses…we’ll see…  [Ed: I was right. They aren’t even close to the same thing.]

RobotPirateNinja:

Debt Limit question…lady asked it wrong (we’ve already hit it, did a month ago, we are currently smashing piggy banks to pay bills)

Romney…we won’t raise it unless Obama stops being all socialisty….but not leading like his hair would. … Romney goes on to bash the U.S. economy and our debt….never mentions the word Taxes…or how the budget was balanced 10 years ago. I wish a questioner would mention how Bush said his tax cuts  in 2001 would wipe out the deficit by 2009.   [or how his 2005 Budget would “cut it in half” by 2009].

RobotPirateNinja: Bachmann on debt ceiling – I voted to default…and will again.

RobotPirateNinja: ‎Bachmann: “Pay the interest first, the soldiers and seniors later.”

RobotPirateNinja: Wow…Pawlenty…first amendment says nothing about keeping religion out of Government. Really…wow…

[Pawlenty quote:  “Well, the protections between the separation of church and state were designed to protect people of faith from government, not government from people of faith.”

This statement says a great deal about the current state of the Republican party.   They really do think imposing religion on government is o.k., it’s just the opposite that is bad (oh, and Muslims are bad).]

RobotPirateNinja: Pawlenty – Founders were all the same religion as me.

RobotPirateNinja: Frothy Mixture – I use faith and reason…when reason backs up my faith, otherwise, faith all the way.

RobotPirateNinja: Frothy Mixture was going for a standing ovation…he got silence.

RobotPirateNinja: Ron Paul – People can’t learn to be moral. Jeez, you can’t make this stuff up.

[Note: I missed Ron Paul’s other stunning revelation about the Constitution of Paultard land…there is no separation of Church and state, and the first amendment was written specifically to protect Christians:

Ron Paul: “But the Constitution addresses this by saying — literally, it says no theocracy. But it doesn’t talk about church and state. The most important thing is the First Amendment. Congress shall write no laws — which means Congress should never prohibit the expression of your Christian faith in a public place.“]

RobotPirateNinja: Herman Cain informs there are two types of Muslims, peaceful and THOSE THAT WANT TO KILL US. He doesn’t like the second one. He will NOT IMPOSE SHARIAH LAW. Jeez…

[Actual exchange:
“Q:Are American-Muslims as a group less committed to the Constitution than, say, Christian or Jews?

CAIN: First, the statement was would I be comfortable with a Muslim in my administration, not that I wouldn’t appoint one. That’s the exact transcript.

And I would not be comfortable because you have peaceful Muslims and then you have militant Muslims, those that are trying to kill us.

And so, when I said I wouldn’t be comfortable, I was thinking about the ones that are trying to kill us, number one.”]

RobotPirateNinja: Romney – Rational one about Muslims…comes from being in a cult, and knowing how it feels to be looked down on for that.

RobotPirateNinja: Woah…Newt goes out on a “limb” and would require loyalty oaths…cause, you know…Muslims lie.

[Actual derp:  GINGRICH: “I just want to comment for a second. The Pakistani who emigrated to the U.S. became a citizen, built a car bomb which luckily failed to go off in Times Square was asked by the federal judge, how could he have done that when he signed — when he swore an oath to the United States. And he looked at the judge and said, “You’re my enemy. I lied.”

Now, I just want to go out on a limb here. I’m in favor of saying to people, if you’re not prepared to be loyal to the United States, you will not serve in my administration, period.”

It should be noted that lying on loyalty oaths is totally not cool in a time of war, which is why they work so good.]

RobotPirateNinja: Herman Cain on pizza preference – “Deep Dish”…first thing he’s said tonight that was a clear answer.

RobotPirateNinja: Missed the gay-bashing segment.

RobotPirateNinja: Bachman – I would support an Amendment banning state marriage, but I’m not going to mess with states. She was able to contradict herself in a single question.

 [BACHMANN: John, I do support a constitutional amendment on — on marriage between a man and a woman, but I would not be going into the states to overturn their state law.]

RobotPirateNinja:  

Herman Cain – I wouldn’t have let gays die openly for our country, but I wouldn’t change it.
Pawlenty – As CinC I would let me generals tell me what do to.
Paul – We shouldn’t have an army.
Romney – DADT should be kept until we “win” the War on Terror.
Newt – Blah, blah, blah, no answer.
Bachmann – I would go back to DADT, and Newt’s answer.

[Note: Bachmann “would want to confer with our commanders-in-chief and with — also with the Joint Chiefs of Staff,”   Note for the non-idiots: Bachmann is actually running to *become* Commander-in-Chief (hint: there’s only one).]

Can we vote her off this show?

RobotPirateNinja: Santorum – I hate gays, and we should go back and punish everyone who came out under the new, fair, policy.

RobotPirateNinja: Look at Santorum’s record….you lost your last election by 18%. You are off the island.

RobotPirateNinja: Bachmann – I’m so pro-life I think woman who are raped and get pregnant should be thankful God blessed them with that LIFE.

RobotPirateNinja: Pawlenty mentions the NRO as a self-back pat…ugh.

RobotPirateNinja: Legal vs. Illegation softball question….here comes the derpfest…

RobotPirateNinja: Santorum – Jesus said to love and care for everyone, except illegal immigrants, who we should kick out of hospitals.

[Santorum: A lot of folks run for president as pro-life and then that issue gets shoved to the back burner. I will tell you that the issue of pro-life, the sanctity and dignity of every human life, not just at birth, not just on the issue of abortion, but with respect to the entire life, which I mentioned welfare reform and — and the dignity of people at the end of life, those issues will be top priority issues for me to make sure that all life is respected and held with dignity.

vs.

SANTORUM: Well, I’m the son of a legal immigrant in this country and — and believe in legal immigration. That is a great wellspring of — of strength for our country.

But we cannot continue to provide — the federal government should not require states to provide government services. [note: like HOSPITALS]

RobotPirateNinja: ‎5-year old kid walks into a hospital…should the priority be to check his green card…Ron Paul…Yes, he should not get healthcare if he’s not American.

RobotPirateNinja: ‎”Freedom has SOLVED these problems before!?!” – Ron Paul

[Actual derp:

KING: A 5-year-old child of an illegal immigrant walks into an emergency room. Does the child get care?

PAUL: [Random derp about what Paul calls “freedom”.]

KING: But should they get care? Should they get care? Should taxpayers have to pay for that care?

PAUL: No, they should not be forced to, but we wouldn’t — we shouldn’t be penalizing the Catholic Church, because they’re trying to fulfill a role. And some of the anti-immigrants want to come down hard on the Catholic Church, and that is wrong.

PAUL: (making it absolutely clear that Doctors should first check greencards)  “But, no, if you have an understanding and — and you want to believe in freedom, freedom has solved these kind of problems before. You don’t have to say, oh, you’re not going to have care or there won’t be any care and everybody is going to starve to death and — and die on the streets without medical care. That’s the implication of the question. That’s just not true, and you shouldn’t accept it.”

See folks?!  Who need medical care when you have FREEDOM from medical care?]

RobotPirateNinja: Birthright Citizenship…should be change the entire nature of this country and what it means to be American?

Cain – Immediately.
Pawlenty – Supports Alabama and Arizona law. No more birthrights for citizens.

RobotPirateNinja: Newt – Blames America’s problems on the hyperbole of partisans. Really, he does this with a straight face.

RobotPirateNinja: Newt – Put DHS people…I guess the BSA…like the TSA (i.e. created “small government Republicans”) on the Border.

RobotPirateNinja: Paul – Right now we don’t own our land, get off my yard, really, get off my yard!

RobotPirateNinja: Romney – Drill, drill, clean coal….clean coal? Has that been invented yet? No…then why did he…oh…

RobotPirateNinja: Sanatorum – 5 more years of ethanol subsidies (Hi Iowa!) but then no more…just enough to get him elected twice…

RobotPirateNinja:

Question from soldiers dad: Bin Laden is Dead…should we leave Afghanistan…(guessing no one will slam Obama for killing him.)

Romney – Gives effuse praise to…the guy asking the question. Wants the Afghanistanis to fight against the Ta…liban by themselves, I wonder if he knows where the Taliban is from.

[Actual Derp: ROMNEY: Let me — let me continue. That is I think we’ve learned some important lessons in our experience in Afghanistan. I want those troops to come home based upon not politics, not based upon economics, but instead based upon the conditions on the ground determined by the generals.

But I also think we’ve learned that our troops shouldn’t go off and try and fight a war of independence for another nation. Only the Afghanis can win Afghanistan’s independence from the Taliban. Thank you. ]

Paul – Actually says, and probably doesn’t realize it because he’s on a rant…that he would “spend that money” here. (No he wouldn’t, he’s against spending money here, or there or anywhere there might be green eggs and ham)

RobotPirateNinja: Libya

Bachmann – We should have watched Quadaffi slaughter them. She wouldn’t “lead from behind” by not even being involved. FRANCE! That’s all we need to know. “I deal with the nation’s classified secrets…which I will now casually reveal to you…oh…um…Al Qeada was there, which is why I wouldn’t have not led from behind.”

[Actual Derp: KING: Congresswoman Bachmann, should the president have supported and jointed more U.S. presence, but now a NATO operation? Was that the right thing to do? Is that in the vital national interest of the United States of America?

BACHMANN: No, I don’t believe so it is. That isn’t just my opinion. That was the opinion of our defense secretary, Gates, when he came before the United States Congress. He could not identify a vital national American interest in Libya.

Our policy in Libya is substantially flawed. It’s interesting. President Obama’s own people said that he was leading from behind. The United States doesn’t lead from behind. As commander in chief, I would not lead from behind.

We are the head. We are not the tail. The president was wrong. All we have to know is the president deferred leadership in Libya to France. That’s all we need to know. The president was not leading when it came to Libya. ”

She goes on to imply that Quadaffi is fighting Al Qaeda…I’m not sure at this point if she thinks we should be on *his* side.]

RobotPirateNinja: Newt – 10 years from 9/11 our intelligence is so innaccurate…we got Bin Laden you jackass.

[Actual Derp: “But I think what Congresswoman Bachmann just said ought to really sober everybody about how much trouble we’re in. Ten years after 9/11, our intelligence is so inadequate that we have no idea what percent of the Libyan rebels are, in fact, al Qaeda. Libya was the second largest producer of people who wanted to kill Americans in Iraq.”

Looks like Newt is warming up to Quadaffi as well.   Truly, this is bizarro world.]

RobotPirateNinja: Newt – would cut and run as quickly as possible from everywhere. Then he’d gather intelligence.

Cain – Again says we didn’t understand the problem. We don’t know. Grandma says “they are are not simple situations, it’s an absolute mess. And we can’t make a decision until we learn from the commanders in the field whether or not to deploy commanders to the field.”

[Actual derp: KING: Mr. Cain, take 30 seconds, please. People might say he’s a businessman. He has no experience in government. How would you look at your responsibilities, draw that line, vital U.S. national interests as commander in chief?

CAIN: It starts with making sure we understand the problem, which I don’t think we did. We didn’t have the intelligence. Number two, is it in the vital interest of the United States of America? If the answer is no, then we don’t go any further. If it’s not in the vital interest of America, To paraphrase my grandmother, with the situation in Libya and many of these other situations, they’re not simple situations. It’s a mess. It’s just an absolute mess.

And there’s more that we don’t know than we do know, so it will be very difficult to know exactly what we do until, like others have said, we learn from the commanders in the field.   [NOTE: Q: When you don’t have commanders in the field, like we didn’t in Libya…what do you do?  A: Derp!]]

RobotPirateNinja: Question: Military Funding…debt…hullo?

Santorum – Clinton did that…but anyway…we need a strategy, to, uh, asymmetric terrorism, so we need that base, and attack, anywhere and everywhere. The Soviets might attack at any time.

RobotPirateNinja: Santorum – Everybody in the world hates us, which is why we had to go it alone in Libya.

RobotPirateNinja: Missed the weak field question…kinda been pointing that out all along.

RobotPirateNinja: Who made the best choice for VP in 2008?

Pawlenty – Laughs, slams Biden, repeatedly…some something that isn’t happening. Palin is qualified to be President. And we’re done there…
Romney – We’d all be better than Obama. Obama doesn’t have a foreign policy…nice sarcastic contratulations on getting Bin Laden…that will be a headline tomorrow.

RobotPirateNinja: Bachmann – let’s do it American Idol style…sick…

RobotPirateNinja: Ron Paul – Can you stomach any of these people? No. FEDERAL RESERVE!!

RobotPirateNinja: Frothy Mixture impressed. Bachmann learned more in two hours about the goodness of the American people (she never finished the “than” part of that butt-kissing).
Paul – We can be civil slamming the President for everything he’s done and hasn’t done.

RobotPirateNinja: Hermain Cain – It’s about the children and grandchildren…which is why I want to get rid of Medicare for them. …..

And we’re done here…it’s spin time.

PREDICTION: Romney’s sarcastic praise of Obama for killing Bin Laden will be the lede.

UPDATE: I was wrong…seems lot of other media folks don’t like pointing out obvious logical contradictions and think Bachmann did well.   Wild.

Sacred Strip Clubs? Yes! Sacred Buildings? No!

Nice piece on this subject, covers most of the arguments I’ve made about the thing.


There are actually a couple of adult entertainment venues that show up on Google ( GOOGnews people ) Maps if you search around the former site of the World Trade Center. Internet reviewers seem to like New York Dolls best, due to its sexy, disproportionately Russian staff, mirrored stage and purportedly high-quality lap dances.

As yet, I haven’t heard anyone wonder why our political class is silent as the sex industry operates on sacred ground. It would be a bizarre complaint: It’s Manhattan, where you can find anything mere blocks from a given location. The closest strip club to Ground Zero happens to be two blocks away, a fact that has nothing to do with our reverence for the place where so many Americans were killed by terrorists. As you’ve probably noticed, it doesn’t even make sense to call it The Ground Zero Strip Club.

http://www.forbes.com/2010/07/22/ground-zero-mosque-religion-terrorism-opinions-columnists-conor-friedersdorf.html

UPDATE: Best quote from the piece…

Moreover, the writer Jeffrey Goldberg, as staunch an opponent of radical Islamists as you’ll find, posted recently on the controversy over this cultural center, having interacted with the folks who are attempting to build it, and reported that they are peace-loving people intent on marginalizing extremists inside their religion. “One of the ways to prevent future Ground Zeroes is to encourage moderation within Islam, and to treat Muslim moderates differently than we treat Muslim extremists,” he writes. “The campaign against this mosque treats all Muslims as perpetrators. This is a terrible mistake, for moral and strategic reasons.”

Opponents of this project are judging people they’ve never met on the basis of their religion, treating all Muslims as enemies of America, and allowing emotional prejudice to dictate their opinion when prudent reflection would serve everyone better. Forbidding houses of worship from being built is something done in foreign autocracies, not a country founded by people fleeing religious prejudice.

I can’t stand most of Goldberg’s stuff, but even he can see how the Palin’s [1] (and Gingrich’s [2]) of the world are dead wrong on this one.

—-

As to [1], the quitter wrote, “”to build a mosque at Ground Zero is a stab in the heart of the families of the innocent victims of those horrific attacks.”  This is insane.  So insane, in fact, it got enough people to flag it as offensive it got deleted by Facebook.  This “blame *them* all” attitude of Palin’s is just wrong.  And then, of course, she doubled down on the crazy, “Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn’t it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate.”    Hey, jackass, the peaceful muslims ARE THE ONES BUILDING THE MOSQUE.  Not only that, but the “heartland” wasn’t even attacked by Muslims.  Ever.  New York was.  You know that place, right?  Why not leave the decisions on how to heal to them, rather than an unemployed politician from 4,000 miles away.  The only thing that makes her looks slightly rational is when compared to [2]. 

[2] “But Gingrich was not content to have the Mama Grizzly conducting the conservative Crazy Train. He wants to forbid the location of a mosque at Ground Zero until there are churches and temples allowed in Saudi Arabia.” [full article]   I mean, really?  Gingrich wants to take religious tolerance cues from Saudi Arabia?  And here I was thinking the U.S. was slightly better than that.  It’s very similar to a number of conservatives who defended Arizona’s crazy laws by pointing out Mexico’s even worse laws.   And these are the same people who constantly bray about the U.S. being the best thing since Jesus.  And yet…they want to take cues on how to govern from some of the worst offenders in the world.  The mind, sometimes it boggles.

Helen Thomas outsted for criticizing Israel

And the old lady is gone.

WASHINGTON, June 7, 2010 – Helen Thomas announced Monday that she is retiring, effective immediately.

Her decision came after her controversial comments about Israel and the Palestinians were captured on videotape and widely disseminated on the Internet.

Thomas later issued a statement: “I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians. They do not reflect my heart-felt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance. May that day come soon.’’

This is largely why you don’t see any pointed criticisms of Israel in the U.S. corporate media.   Journalists like keeping their jobs too.  It is, however, perfectly legitimate to consider all Arabs terrorists, and anyone trying to bring starving people food is now a “militant”.   Those opinions tend to get you promoted.

For those that don’t catch the name, Thomas had been a White House reporter for over 40 years.

It’s time to cut off all aid to Israel (period)

U.S. Confirms Citizen Shot Dead in Gaza Flotilla Raid

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=atkYRIaRZWSw

I really don’t like the idea of foreign governments (caught spying on the U.S. repeatedly) summarily executing U.S. citizens.

So far the Obama administration’s reaction to this massacre has been pathetic. Cut off funding, totally, then talk to them again (after they stop building settlements).

Hate the liberal media? Hate Fox News? Then stop them

https://secure.eff.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=451

You won’t see a lot a corporate media coverage on this one (ACTA) as it a) puts them in the spotlight and b) gives them a TON more power.

And don’t let folks confuse this issue with net neutrality, which is a completely different beast. Here’s what this does…

Just look at some of the “anti-counterfeiting” measures included in ACTA. ACTA would set up a global framework that could:

  • Require Internet service providers (ISPs) to disconnect individuals accused (not convicted) of repeated copyright infringement;
  • Require ISPs to hand over their subscribers’ identities to copyright owners without any due process or judicial oversight;
  • Require ISPs to make potentially expensive modifications to their networks in an effort to prevent copyright infringement;
  • Prohibit the U.S. Congress from reforming the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which makes it a crime to defeat copy protection even when making a copy is perfectly legal;
  • Require all countries to implement DMCA-like laws for their own populations, without the benefit of fair use or other legal exceptions that provide a modicum of protection for speech;
  • Threaten potential innovators with outrageous financial penalties for copyright infringement; and
  • Criminalize even non-commercial uses of copyrighted materials.

The link includes some of the legislators to cotact to try and stop this one.

A swipe at Obama from the far left over assassination authorization.

The Left comes at Obama for assassination authorization.

The statement, published as a paid advertisement, accuses Obama, who was elected in 2008 with the enthusiastic support of US liberals, of continuing Bush’s controversial approach to human rights in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in domestic security.

It takes aim especially at Obama’s decision — reported by US officials — to authorize the killing of a radical Islamic cleric and US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, who is accused of ties to Al-Qaeda in Yemen.

“In some respects this is worse than Bush,” the statement says. “First, because Obama has claimed the right to assassinate American citizens whom he suspects of ‘terrorism,’ merely on the grounds of his own suspicion or that of the CIA, something Bush never claimed publicly.”

Funny that the most fact-based, substantive criticisms of Obama come his left.

It’s also funny there at the end when it goes “somthing Bush never claimed publicly.”  Which is true.  And it’s also true that Bush authorized the assassination of American citizens.  So it goes. 

I saw an interesting comment about this situation in another forum (on a fark thread, no less) stating that, perhaps, one of the reason the Obama administration hasn’t gone after some in the Bush administration for war crimes is simply that O’s people have continued some of the programs that would come up in any real, big, public, trial.  Hence opening themselves up to later prosecution by the people of Administration X.

On the facts of it, I’m a bit conflicted.  On the one hand, being against the death penalty, I certainly don’t like it being handed down to one of my fellows citizens without trial.  Then again, the guy very publicly calls for me and many others like me to die and actively was recruiting folks to do that very thing, and convinced at least one to do so in Ft. Hood.

So I’m going to spin this as Obama sticking with his “openest” admin in history thing, and he’s just let us know the name of the a top target.  If Bin Laden for some strange reason was a U.S. citizen (by some quirk of fate say), I’d have little issue with the extra-judicial assassination.  It’s part of the Texan in me.

Jokes About Miami Airport Worker’s Body Scan Lead To Beating, Arrest

Jokes about wee wee-wee lead to beating

Rolando Negrin, 44, was charged with aggravated battery after he used a police baton to beat Hugh Osorno on Tuesday. According to a police complaint, Negrin was upset following a training with whole body scanners with other co-workers.

“The x-ray revealed [he] has a small penis and co-workers made fun of him on a daily basis,” the complaint read.

This body-scanning crap needs to stop. The Khan story makes it clear it’s a total lie to say these things get deleted (not to mention that makes the process useless for investigating terrorism).

Please, folks, quit being so scared, I’m losing too many rights and freedoms when you keep panicing.

[more coverage here]

Clearing off the desktop…

…sometimes I fall behind.  So to catch up, I just dump a lot of stuff with short commentary and reboot the browsers so my computer can think again.

Here goes…

First up is an acknowledgement of the change to Arizona law.  This took away the worst of it, but I’d expect the rest to be bad enough to fall on its own.

Here’s some of the local reaction to the immigration law.  The march took place before the changes.

Some Fox revisionism.  Seriously, WTF.

The smoke monster gets lose in the gulf.

They caught some guy who doesn’t know how to make a good bomb.

Who did what now?  You don’t say.

Federal money is only *sometimes* evil.  How very Hindu of you

No need for that extra $130 for a 3G iPad.  $99 3G iPhone works fine.

Some speculation by a sci-fi guy about Jobs hatred of flash.

More on the immigration law change in Arizona.

Tattle tales!  How silly.   I say let people strip in the name on art, like that.  This’ll get tossed.

The global warming witchhunt continues in VA via the Cooch.

A good Street Fighter movie? Unpossible.  Possible…

It’s like a cliche now.

The Tea Party takes the Republicans to a new dimension, and beyond.

The alternate question about who “introduced” nukes to the Middle East.

Wonderful reading about the longest living organism(s).

Nance Offers to Waterboard Thiessen

I’m all for this.  For those that don’t know Marc Thiessen, and his defence of torture as public policy, you can see him here on the Daily Show (getting taken to the woodshed and whining about it).

Malcolm Nance comes from a slightly different background.

Here’s his view on Thiessen’s stance…

I spent twenty years in intelligence and four years in the SERE program waterboarding people before I ever opened my mouth on the subject. Marc Thiessen is a fool of the highest magnitude if he thinks he knows anything about waterboarding. His claims are based not on first-hand experience but on a classified briefing from people with an agenda of justifying what was done. That makes Thiessen into a court stenographer for war criminals rather than a person with any real claim of expertise.

Thiessen’s central purpose is apparently to glorify the most extreme practices used by the CIA in the Bush era and to argue that each of these practices, including waterboarding, is vitally necessary to our national security-even though no president used them before, and it seems that President Bush himself halted many of these practices over Cheney’s objection. We have prosecuted and convicted men for using these techniques in the past, and we were right to do so.

Thousands of American POWs died and suffered resisting torture practices that we have always called the tools of the enemy. The SERE program was designed to help them grapple with this inhumanity and retain their dignity in the face of it. Now Thiessen and his boss want us to embrace the tactics we used in that program-taken from the Russians, the Communist Chinese, the North Koreans, the North Vietnamese, the Khmer Rouge-as our own.

 challenge him to put up or shut up. I offer to put him through just one hour of the CIA enhanced interrogation techniques that were authorized in the Bush Administration’s OLC memos-including the CIA-approved variant of waterboarding. If at the end he still believes this is not torture, I’ll respect his viewpoint. But not until then. By the way, I can assure you that, within that hour, I’ll secure Thiessen’s written admission that waterboarding is torture and that his book is a pack of falsehoods. He’ll give me any statement I want in order to end the torture.

The full interview is here.

And Nance is right.  Thiessen would be squealing like a pig in a couple minutes.  Then he would say whatever Nance wanted him to.  That’s why “the Russians, the Communist Chinese, the North Koreans, the North Vietnamese, the Khmer Rouge” all used this technique, to get confessions.  Confessions to anything.  That’s the point of SERE, so you know what horrible things you’ll face if captured by the evil empires that use the technique, and have some defense against them (knowing is half the battle, go joe).

That someone would defend torture as useful (but only when we do it, it’s still evil for others to do so) is beyond the pale of moral reasoning, but seems to be the basis of Thiessen’s position.