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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Top Ten Myths about the Arab Spring of 2011

1. The upheavals of 2011 were provoked by the Bush administration’s overthrow of Saddam Hussein in Iraq

2. President Obama was wrong to ask Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down.

3. Muslim radicalism benefited from the revolutions in the Arab world. 

4. Muslim religious groups spear-headed the revolutions.

5. The uprising in Bahrain was merely a manifestation of sectarian tensions between Sunni and Shiite

6. Iran was behind the uprising in Bahrain.

7. The Arab Spring is a Western plot.

8. The intervention of NATO in Libya was driven primarily by oil.

9. The Arab dictatorships now overthrown or tottering were better for women than their likely Islamist successors

10. The Arab upheavals are an unmitigated disaster for Israel.

Top Ten Myths about the Arab Spring of 2011 | Informed Comment.

Juan Cole, as per, offers sound reasoning for why each of these is considered a myth.   The Arab Spring has been an amazing thing to watch, and brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion for more than one reason.   Overall, we here at RPN consider it a *VERY GOOD* thing, and believe a (more) free and (more) open society is the best way to inoculate against violent radicals.

The more people feel a part of their country/community/culture the more likely they are to work to make it better.  Only those who feel apart from everything feel justified in destroying it.

 

Keeeyyyystoooooooone!!!

A member of the House Tea Party caucus said Republicans are rallying behind Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in the payroll tax cut standoff, calling him “William Wallace” in their “‘Braveheart’ moment.”

Speaking Monday on Fox News, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) suggested contrary to reports that the Tea Party wing of the party is forcing Boehner’s hand, his colleagues are actually rallying to defend the Speaker of the House. […]

“Out of 75 responses, there may have been one person that thought it was OK that we would put the fight off until two months from now,” he continued. “Everybody else said, ‘Look, this is a ‘Braveheart’ moment. You, Mr. Speaker, are our William Wallace. Let’s rush to the fight. Get us back to Washington, let’s get to our work and we’re doing that.””

via Daily Kos: Rep. Phil Gingrey: Payroll tax fight is GOP ‘Braveheart moment’.

Yea…so anyway…here’s the latest on the extension of the payroll tax that President Obama got for 95% of Americans (more than half of whom thanked him by thinking he raised their taxes) and is currently fighting to extend.

The Senate passed a two-month extension after the House passed a ridiculous version that included approval of the Keystone pipeline (referenced in the title), simply because Obama said he didn’t want it and would veto it.

Mitch McConnell (the Turtle or “Tortuga”), was for the plan, then figured he’d be against it.  Now the Democrats and Obama have to figure out a way to compromise, once again, with economic “terrorism”.   That is…everyone knows this extension is needed, without it, the recovery stalls even more (after being knee-capped by Republicans this summer with the debt-ceiling debacle).

So the Dems, in the objective “good for the country” sense, need to get a deal, the Republicans, once again, get the throw a gremlim in the gears, and hope nobody remembers who did it, and blames Obama for the results, in…11 more months.

IMHO, as a constant spectator of this charade, and of the American people…I’m about 67% sure this strategy is going to fail, and Obama is going to crush the R’s in 2012.   There is a sizable portion of my country (about 20%) that thinks Obama is the reincarnation of Mao/Hitler/Muhammed (the bad version)/Marx.   They can’t be reasoned with, they can’t be bought, most of them are retired or soon will be, and most of them (80% or so), will vote against Obama.   The other 20% doesn’t believe in elections anyway (but love the Constitution) and will stay away.     That’s about 16% of the gen pop against Obama.

This is a significant hurdle for 2012, but…outside of the nuts and the truly devoted, this long and what look’s to be a drawn out, if-not-totally-inconclusive, Republican primary session is going to devastate that Party.   Some of the stuff coming out of this is so noxious to most people (Newt threatening to do away with judges he doesn’t like being the latest example), that a tested and tried solution in Obama is going to look mighty appealing.

The U.S. economy is actually recovering, albeit slowly.  If the unemployment rate drops below 8%…which is entirely possible before next November, Obama is actually going to look like a “Messiah” in retrospect.

He killed Bin Laden (gave the order to do so), Kim Jung Il is gone, Kqadaffai [sp] is gone, Egypt is free (and chaotic, as freedom is), the  Iraq War is done, he was a damn Peace Prize, and looks to have some actual dividend coming from bringing a lot of peace to the world (compared to when he took office, mind you).

Against this….you have Republicans going to the wall for Big Oil.

It’s really not a tough game to call.

Obama’s Poker Face

I’ve noticed a few folks mentioning how Obama has one heck of a poker face.  After looking at the events of the past few days in hindsight, I find it very hard to disagree.

The best example came last Saturday night, as he sat through this joke by SNL’s Seth Myers…

Note that laughing smile when they pan back to the President…that’s an act.   Completely.   Not only did Obama know exactly where Osama was, but also that there was a kill-squad en route to that very location while the joke was being told.

That, my friends, is a serious poker face.

So I did a quick googling (the poor man’s Lexis-Nexis) and found this tidbit…the guy does play poker…and does it just like he presides.  BTW, this is dated 9/24/2007, so it’s well before things got real.

Obama was a regular at the low-stakes games — sometimes stud poker, sometimes draw — designed to break up the tedium of long legislative sessions. Poker, beer and cigars were staples; Democrats and Republicans, lawmakers and even the lobbyists who Obama sometimes rails against dealt the cards and placed their bets.

The traits Obama displayed around the card table those many nights are ones he brings to his presidential bid and are certain to be evident — and analyzed — if he wins the White House.

By his poker buddies’ accounts, Obama is careful and focused. He’s not easily distracted and doesn’t give away his intentions unless it’s to his advantage. He’s not prone to taking risky chances, preferring to play it safe. But he’s also serious and competitive: When he plays, he plays to win.

“It’s a fun way for people to relax and share stories and give each other a hard time over friendly competition,” Obama said by e-mail. “In Springfield, it was a way to get to know other senators — including Republicans.”

Obama, then a state senator, was a founding member of the group. He became known as a cautious player with a good poker face, someone who paid more attention to the game than to the chatter and laughter that accompanied it.

Obama studied the odds carefully, friends say. If he had strong cards, he’d play. If he didn’t, he would fold rather than bet good money on the chance the right card would show up when he needed it.

That reputation meant that he often succeeded when he decided to bluff.

“When Barack stayed in, you pretty much figured he’s got a good hand,” said Larry Walsh, a former senator.

More than one lawmaker teased Obama about his careful style of play.

“I always used to kid him that the only fiscally conservative bone in his body I ever saw was at the poker table with his own money,” said state Sen. Bill Brady, a Republican from the central Illinois city of Bloomington. “I said if he would be half as conservative with taxpayer dollars, the state would be a lot better off.”

Nice little dig in there at the end, but what you gonna do, it’s politics.   

And we have a master playing it for us.

U.S. Occupation of Iraq More Than Doubles Poverty, Sickness — Leaves Country a Total Disaster

http://www.alternet.org/module/printversion/147928

According to the U.S. Census of 2000, 80 percent of the 285 million people living in the United States are urban dwellers. Those living in slums are well below 5 percent. If we translate the Iraqi statistic into the U.S. context, 121 million people in the United States would be living in slums.

If the United States had an unemployment rate of 25-50 percent and 121 million people living in slums, riots would ensue, the military would take over, and democracy would evaporate. So why are people in the United States not concerned and saddened by the conditions in Iraq? Because most people in the United States do not know what happened in Iraq and what is happening there now. Our government, including the current administration, looks the other way and perpetuates the myth that life has improved in post-invasion Iraq. Our major news media reinforces this message.

The end[?] result of the last time we got back at “them” for 9/11.

Link Dump….

Working…can’t write…dumping link…

This is why they should. (I got sick of this nontroversy a couple days ago)

When Pat Buchanan calls your Nazi analogy over the edge, it is.

Read the comments to see why I call them nutjobs.  (note the comment and reactions to the comment that explains this away rationally.  Rationality is like the rage virus to these people, turns them crazy).’

Thanks, Rupert, for making this so obvious.  Fox News is *directly* funding the Republicans now, and not just donating 20 hours a day to free advocacy and attack ads.

Top 10 Right Wing Conspiracy theories. With the news that 40% of Republicans and 20% of Americans think Obama is a muslim, these fit right in.

Media companies stealing customer data. More definitive proof of their hypocrisy.

The Making of a Nontroversy.

Roger Ebert continues to do good stuff.

Franklin Graham makes up stuff about the President’s Dad to explain American’s ignorance re: Obama’s religion.   For some reason I think he’s doing it wrong.

We recently gave Israel $3,000,000,000 to buy $2,7500,000,000 worth of F-35s. This would be more of an actual issue if this story (and those like it) got more play.  That’s how the Military Industrial Complex works, BTW.  We borrow from China to give to Israel to buy from Us.   And a few people make out like bandits selling stuff to kill, well, bandits.  It does keep us at #1, I guess.

RIAA wants to force electronic manufacturers to include FM radios in all phones, ipods, etc.  Yes, it is that stupid, and yes, they actually are saying this is good for you.  I side with the concept of the free market on this one.

A beautiful blonde, the CIA and America’s lies about Iraq

http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/film/article7132341.ece

I hope that film can add its unique qualities to the journalistic record on this set of events, so that Americans can truly understand one of the most important, dramatic and personally intense intersections of principle and personalities in their own recent history — a history that is not behind us but that still comes home to us, wounded or maddened or accompanied by officials bearing a wrapped flag to loved ones, week after week after week.

Should be an interesting flick. The way the press attacked Wilson, while ignoring the data (or lack thereof) was shameful, and one of their worst failures in modern history.

UPDATE:  There is also an interesting aspect of the film, in that they actually get to explore what it was that Vallerie Plame was *doing* as CIA operative.  This isn’t something Plame can talk about, and hasn’t, and isn’t something the CIA will confirm or deny.  It is only in the creative world of cinematic reality that it can be explored.

And it should not be forgotten here, a man (well, a Scooter) got sentenced to prison for doing this.  Yes, I know, Bush commuted his sentence, but even Bush wouldn’t pardon the guy.  What they did was wrong, and it was done to silence critics and facts and sell a war of agression.

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).

Obama, Democrats, and GOP at odds over financial regs

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2010/04/obama-the-democats-and-gop-at-odds-over-financial-regs/1

Looks like it’s time for the next round of “Whats actually in the bill?”

UPDATE:  We’ll get to what’s in the bill later.  One other news story that fits into this agenda (and it ain’t an accident) is the recent news of the prosecution of Goldman Sachs.

Wall Street’s preeminent investment bank, Goldman Sachs, was charged Friday by the government with fraud in marketing exotic mortgage-backed securities before the financial crisis.

The Securities and Exchange Commission brought the civil charges in federal court in Manhattan with a lawsuit against Goldman and one of the bank’s vice presidents.

The charges relate to so-called collateralized debt obligations — complex securities tied to the performance of subprime mortgages — that Goldman created in 2007 near the end of the housing boom.

The value of the securities plunged in the mortgage meltdown that began later that year, helping to set off the global financial crisis.

This was Sach’s own version of “too big to fail”.  Since they had their hands in so many pies, it only made sense to bet against themselves, in the twisted logic of the money-makers-movers-and-shakers.

They are probably totally hosed here.  This is going to shut them up, and some others, about the new regulations.  Personally I’m for them (in a general sense).  I like the idea of a Consumer Protection Agency.  Many whistles were blown in the Fed’s direction as far back as 2000 about the shady crap, but it didn’t make it far enough up the chain.  Hence the CPA.

I also like more light on the derivatives and more complex weird products being sold.  Just like Enron (and under the same guy), Wall Street was making loads of cash by hiding all the risk (and loss).  More light makes that harder, and in the global age, after a global meltdown, international havens for sums that large are going to be hard to come by (in the long run).  Our recent move to go after the “Swiss Bank Account” b.s. is a good example of this.

The (R)’s are in a tough place, again.  Having to argue that Obama is owned by the banks (bailout) and a socialists against them (new regulations) while trying to stymie legislation wanted by the majority of the country and the majority of the government.  My guess would be misdirection as their strategy.

Let’s Talk about Socialism (and the sub-text Totalitarianism)

Let’s Talk about Socialism (and the sub-text Totalitarianism)

Wow, where to start with this one.  I’ve been reading a lot, as per, regarding what used to be a debate about much needed health care reform in this country.  That debate has since devolved into mad, crazy fear-mongering and nutjobbery about the creeping tide of communism/fascism/LOUD NOISES coming to our country.

A quick stat for you: here’s a nice graph of all the companies that Obama has nationalized…

OMG! The Horror!

It should also be noted that of the nationalized business assets, the leaders of each corporation went to Washington D.C. and *begged* to be nationalized.  In no case that anyone has seen has Obama, nor anyone in his administration been aggressive in this regard.  We’ve even begun to see a profit on some of the money we invested.

To compare and contrast, take a look at Hugo Chavez. You’ll also note that in the case of Chavez, and every other historical power monger, they have had no fear of loudly declaring their intentions.

Sadly, to those of the crazed and dazed right of this country, it is in fact Obama’s lack of saying he wants pull any of this crap that means he really wants to.  I know, I know, that doesn’t make any sense to sane and rational people, but that’s where we are at nowadays.

One of the major fears that opponents of health care reform (and more the point, foes of Democrats in general, as that who is really driving the “debate”) is the generalized fear of government that all Americans now seem to hold near and dear.

This fear tends to be illustrated by the mantra, “what has government ever done right?”

When I hear this, I’m always reminded of a wonderful scene from a movie about a guy who wasn’t quite Jesus.

The argument here, however, isn’t that government is the end-all, be-all solution to all problems.  No one, outside of the Hugo Chavez’s of the world is making such an argument.  The point here is simply that while often inefficient and frustrating, it’s nice to have clean water, and go the store and buy clean meat, and turn on the TV and have clean signals, and the list go on for a while.

Back to the greater point, what about totalitarianism?  This is the actual fear that many Americans have, that an all powerful government will watch their every move, torture them, re-educate them, and the destroy their economy.

The really funny thing about contemporary Republicans (not to be confused with conservatives, who have largely been left out in the cold by the extremists) is that when this was actually happening, and the government was conducting warrantless wiretaps, torturing people, and destroying the economy by borrowing a trillion dollars to conduct a war sold on lies, there come from the right a defeanening silence, if not outright cheers.

Indeed, many decided that torture was all right for their safety, and warrantless wiretaps were needed for their safety, and invading countries that didn’t attack us was necessary for their safety.   Back then (all the way back in 2008) the President needed to have all these powers and this vast leeway in order to protect the United States of America.

It was terribly frustrating to make the argument at that point that no, we really shouldn’t be starting a two-front war when the first front is stalled, and no, we really shouldn’t be torturing people, and no, borrowing money to blow stuff up was a bad idea, as anyone who stood up to this trend was quickly branded a Godless Treasonous Anti-American.   I would politely (well, relatively politely) point out that whatever powers were handed or conceded to Bush, would by proxy be handed to the next President, which at the time looked to be another Clinton.

This would generally generate a moment of pause, and then the nationalistic ferver would again take over and the “Love it or Leave it” chants would come louder.

Now the shoe is on the other foot, and finally many can see how poorly it fits their conception of our nation.

So rather than deal with it, and work to get these policies revoked, they’ve instead decided that NOW it is UnAmerican to pay their taxes, and NOW it is UnAmerican to have their kids in school.   I will give Dick Cheney a bit of credit though for consistency though, he still thinks torture is awesome.  His only problem is that the Obama Administration isn’t learning the tactic and is, gasp, actually looking to prosecute some of the folks that did it.

Where can we go from here is the question that probably bugs me most.  We have an entrenched class of  nattering nabobs who have convinced nearly half of the Republican party that our President isn’t even really an American.

What can you say to the deluded that brings them back down to reality?   What can you do when evidence placed directly in front of their faces in ignored?  How can you convince those convinced they are fighting the next Hitler/Mao/Stalin to take a deep breath, relax, and use their right to vote in the next election, and actually trust in the very fiber of our Democracy and trust in the Constitution they profess to love so much?

I certainly don’t know the best answer to these questions, but luckily I can accept comments and suggestions as to the right path.  I know there is one, somewhere.

Perhaps I believe so because somewhere along the way, as I was protesting against the war, and the torture, and listened to those absolutely sure Bush would stage an attack to secure a third term, and then found them to be horribly mistaken, somewhere along that way I learned to breathe, and I learned to relax,.  And I remembered to vote for what I thought was right.

I learned that change can come.  Now that change is here, and the fear it brings came right along with it.