Iraq records huge rise in birth defects, the Cost of War, Continued….

It played unwilling host to one of the bloodiest battles of the Iraq war. Fallujahs homes and businesses were left shattered; hundreds of Iraqi civilians were killed. Its residents changed the name of their “City of Mosques” to “the polluted city” after the United States launched two massive military campaigns eight years ago. Now, one month before the World Health Organisation reveals its view on the legacy of the two battles for the town, a new study reports a “staggering rise” in birth defects among Iraqi children conceived in the aftermath of the war.High rates of miscarriage, toxic levels of lead and mercury contamination and spiralling numbers of birth defects ranging from congenital heart defects to brain dysfunctions and malformed limbs have been recorded. Even more disturbingly, they appear to be occurring at an increasing rate in children born in Fallujah, about 40 miles west of Baghdad.

via Iraq records huge rise in birth defects – Health News – Health & Families – The Independent.

There is “compelling evidence” to link the increased numbers of defects and miscarriages to military assaults, says Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, one of the lead authors of the report and an environmental toxicologist at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health. Similar defects have been found among children born in Basra after British troops invaded, according to the new research.

US marines first bombarded Fallujah in April 2004 after four employees from the American security company Blackwater were killed, their bodies burned and dragged through the street, with two of the corpses left hanging from a bridge. Seven months later, the marines stormed the city for a second time, using some of the heaviest US air strikes deployed in Iraq. American forces later admitted that they had used white phosphorus shells, although they never admitted to using depleted uranium, which has been linked to high rates of cancer and birth defects.

The Iraq War happened.  Even when many in this country can’t remember how Wall Street destroyed the economy four years ago and are now poised to vote for a Wall Street Tycoon, err, “Job Creator, we also forget about the nearly decade long occupation of Iraq.   There’s going to be more to this story.  I’ll write about it from time to time, but if anyone wants to dedicate their lives to solving a real and horrid problem…this is a good one.

You can also continue to advocate against offensive, BASED-ON-UTTER-BULLSHIT WARS!!

The problems they cause tend to last for generations.  Generations.

If you’re wondering why I fight for peace so hard, this is reason N!.

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Liz Cheney…Proof that evil is a genetic trait?

Liz Cheney accuses Obama of abandoning non-existent country ‘Czechoslovakia’ | The Raw Story

Cheney concluded: “But there’s no question but that we’re weaker than we were when Barack Obama took office. And if he has four more years, we may well be unrecognizable.”

An Associated Press fact check last week determined that President Obama never apologized for the United States or expressed sympathy for the people who attacked the U.S. embassy in Libya.

“The claim that Obama repeatedly has apologized for the United States is not borne out by the facts, especially if his full quotes are viewed in context,” Washington Post fact checkers wrote in 2011. “Note to GOP speechwriters and campaign ad makers: The apology tour never happened.”

As for the claim that Obama “abandoned” Czechoslovakia, that country was dissolved in 1992 — over 16 years before he took office.

The sickest part is how she blames him for doing things he didn’t do to countries that don’t exist. I will say though…at the end of this episode Jake Tapper came out and said how objective he was because he doesn’t vote. It would violate his integrity. Quick question…doesn’t airing blatant lies without correction violate some ethical standards? Or is it only when you invite someone back who displays this behavior that it becomes an endorsement of said behavior?

John Hodgman nails it, repeatedly, with a huge hammer

Why Winners Should Vote for Obama – The Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mobileweb/john-hodgman/how-i-learned-to-be-a-winner_b_1834692.html?utm_hp_ref=entertainment&ir=Entertainment

After that I learned to appreciate Obama in a different way. I appreciated that he inhabited a world in which idealism — and ideology — could never by sheer force of will overcome objective reality, and the hard compromises, uneasy truces, and constant errors that must be made to live in that world. I especially felt better about this position when I learned that John McCain carried an indian feather around FOR LUCK. This was not how I wanted my country run. By myth and superstition and magic tokens.

This is similar to my own understanding, as I realized Obama could best be described as a “pragmatic realist with liberal aspirations“.

It just makes a whole more sense that trying to paint him as a radical.  Unfortunately for many on the left, that’s not good enough, and appears to be the same as Romney.  As Hodgman notes, that’s generally loser talk.

And make no mistake, the rational folks are losing this country…one little election at a time.

Those on the right who began wishing in 1980 to dismantle the Great Society, de-regulate and de-unionize business, and starve the beast of the federal government are, you may have noticed, very close to succeeding. I am not saying this to scare you; maybe you agree with them. But the point is that it happened because they endured the compromises, hypocrisies, and retreats needed to get the wins, and profoundly change policy in ways we barely noticed — the repeal of Glass-Steagall; the massive tax cuts; the empowerment of corporations as political donors. These things did not happen because conservatives who believed in them kicked Reagan out of office in 1984 for failing to outlaw abortion immediately. It happened because they won elections.

 

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

Iran, Oil, Israel, the NDAA, and the 2012 Election : A Primer

Let’s start this off with a curious conjunction of news articles as presented by the Google News algorithm.

That's why they do it

That's why they do it

And I also ran across this article over on Juan Cole’s site.

Will his New Sanctions on Iran Cost Obama the Presidency?

Posted on 01/03/2012 by Juan

A sharp drop in the value of the Iranian currency as a result of new American sanctions may sound like good news to hawks in the US. But actually this development may signal ways in which Americans will also be harmed, and Obama may have put a second term in jeopardy, cutting off his nose to spite his face.

An amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act signed by President Obama this past weekend will seek to slap third party sanctions on countries and enterprises that deal with Iran’s central bank. It will go into effect this summer. In effect, the law says that if you buy Iranian petroleum, you cannot do business with American financial institutions. Since the United States is still over a fifth of the world economy, and most institutions with capital need to deal with it, the hope of Congress is that Iran will be left without customers.

The measure, pushed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on behalf of the government of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, might well be a trap for Obama. In an election year, he could not refuse to endorse new sanctions against Iran (the Republican candidates in Iowa are practically running on promising that if elected they will launch a war on Iran; and they are lambasting the president as weak on this issue).

[full story]

There’s a couple of interesting things about this line of thinking and Cole explores the direct results on this in his post.

Those two factors, the likelihood of rising Asian demand for petroleum in 2012, and investor nervousness about how tensions with Iran will play out, will probably keep petroleum prices at historically high levels in 2012, and some analysts believe that there could be a return to the overheated pricing of 2008 before the crash.

It would be much better for the American economy if prices sank back down to the levels of only a few years ago, of $50 a barrel or less.

If the Congressional sanctions actually worked, and took Iran’s roughly 2.5 million barrels a day in exports off the world market, that would take out 80% of Iran’s export income and deeply hurt the regime. But it would also send world petroleum prices through the stratosphere, deeply harming Western economies already teetering on the edge.

The NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012) which has people all a-twitter about the AUMF made real, also includes the language that essentially declares economic warfare with Iran.  You know how all those little dollars say “Federal Reserve Note”…well…when it comes to being the one that redeems property, one tends to have some control over who gets to officially use it for business.   The NDAA (of FY 2012) essentially says that anyone who uses our money, can’t use it to buy their oil (or anything else they sell).

This was added to the NDAA by a flake.  Literally, Jeff Flake (R-AZ).

Washington, D.C., Dec 9, 2011 – Republican Congressman Jeff Flake, who represents Arizona’s Sixth District, today along with 22 House Members sent a letter to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R, CA) and Ranking Member Adam Smith (D, WA) urging them to retain during conference negotiations with the Senate provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would levy sanctions on the Iranian financial sector, including the Central Bank of Iran, in an effort to severely limit the funding sources available to the Iranian regime for use in developing nuclear weapons.

You will be unsurprised to find out that Flake was one of the 81 Congressmen (only 21%) who did, in fact, take an all expense paid weeklong [edit 9 day] vacation to calm and relaxing Israel during the summer break.

Don’t worry though, no taxpayer money was (directly) used to pay for this.  Lobbyists covered the whole thing.

Sponsor(s) – American Israel Education Foundation
Dates – August 18, 2001 – August 26, 2001 (9 days)
Location(s) – Israel 

Purpose – Educational mission
Notes – Spouse Cheryl Flake accompanied. Other costs not specified.

Travel Cost – $7,183.20
Lodging Cost – $2,023.70
Meal Cost – $1,391.30
Other Cost – $986.00
Total Cost – $11,584.20

Additional family members – Yes

[full data on the Flake]

And just so you get an idea of how much of a flake this Flake guy is…

Flake was first elected to what was then Arizona’s 1st congressional district in 2000, after Republican incumbent Matt Salmon stepped down in honor of a self-imposed term limit. The district was then renumbered to the 6th district as Arizona gained two Congressional seats due to the results of the 2000 census.

In his campaign in 2000, Flake had pledged to serve no more than three terms in Congress, leaving no later than January 2007, but in early 2005, shortly after being elected for a third time, Flake announced that he had changed his mind and would in fact run for re-election in 2006. “It was a mistake to limit my own terms,” Flake said.

[from the wiki]

So…long story short…get ready for much higher gas prices this summer and the Republicans constantly blaming Obama for it.   There’s a decent chance that the actual reason for the rise in prices will not be a constraint in supply, but instead an increase in middleman costs caused by the sanctions leading to a run-up in the price of oil…if not a full-on closing of the Straight of Hormuz by Iran (if the sanctions work too well  and they realize they are fucked either way.)

Whatever the reason, higher oil prices (even if only caused by the threat of increased hostilities…raising risks raises prices) will slow the already crawling economic recovery in the U.S., leaving it, most likely, continuing to sputter along like an old car running low on…well…gas.

What I find really funny here (funny in an ironic way), is that while Obama will be in actuality taking a political hit from the slowing economy from increased oil prices, he’s also going to continue to be hit for “throwing Israel under the bus” even while taking the economic hit that comes with directly targeting the money supply of Iran.

Pretty funny, if you think about it.

I still don’t think it’s going to be enough to convince more Americans to vote for Romney than Obama, however.

The election is going to be literally a Wall Street Tycoon vs a Community Organizer.

Ask your average Tea Party member which one of those they support (using those labels), and do it while they are community organizing for even greater lulz.

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.

This Week in the Police State…

First up…the Comitatas Posse is back in town, militarizing the homeland.

WASHINGTON — The Senate voted Tuesday to keep a controversial provision to let the military detain terrorism suspects on U.S. soil and hold them indefinitely without trial — prompting White House officials to reissue a veto threat.

The measure, part of the massive National Defense Authorization Act, was also opposed by civil libertarians on the left and right. But 16 Democrats and an independent joined with Republicans to defeat an amendment by Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) that would have killed the provision, voting it down with 61 against, and 37 for it.

“Congress is essentially authorizing the indefinite imprisonment of American citizens, without charge,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who offered another amendment — which has not yet gotten a vote — that she said would correct the problem. “We are not a nation that locks up its citizens without charge.”

Backers of military detention of Americans — a measure crafted by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) — came out swinging against Udall’s amendment on the Senate floor earlier Tuesday.

“The enemy is all over the world. Here at home. And when people take up arms against the United States and [are] captured within the United States, why should we not be able to use our military and intelligence community to question that person as to what they know about enemy activity?” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said.

“They should not be read their Miranda Rights. They should not be given a lawyer,” Graham said. “They should be held humanely in military custody and interrogated about why they joined al Qaeda and what they were going to do to all of us.”

[full story]

The White House has promised a veto, so we’ll see if that happens or not.

When it comes to partisan divide…this is a pretty bright line in the sand.

“It’s one of those things where … it’s bipartisan on both sides. Levin’s not on the same page as the White House. We’ve got our own internal differences; Paul and Kirk don’t agree with Graham,” said a senior GOP aide just before the vote. “Everybody’s trying to do the right thing. There’s just a difference of opinion.”

Even though Paul was joined only by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) on his side of the aisle, the issue was contentious at the Republicans’ weekly caucus lunch.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) emerged from the meeting — where former Vice President Dick Cheney was in attendance — saying his colleagues had “a spirited discussion” about Udall’s amendment, and predicted nearly all Republicans would oppose the amendment, as they did.

Nothing like having a war criminal tip the balance of debate.

On the corporate side of things, there is another strong push to give Corporate America control of the Internet (via DNS-blacklisting, a la China).   Sadly, some judges already think they have this authority.

As a whole bunch of folks have sent in a District Court judge in Nevada issued some rather stunning orders lately concerning websites that luxury brands company Chanel has argued “advertise, promote, offer for sale or sell” possibly counterfeit Chanel goods. The order is basically a more expansive private version of SOPA, in which the judge has let Chanel directly “seize” about 600 domains, as well as issued restraining orders and injunctions, including orders to Google, Bing, Yahoo, Facebook, Google+, and Twitter to “de-index and/or remove [the domain names] from any search results pages.”

[full story]

There has been a steady and consistent drumbeat from copyright holders to expand their protections in a more competitive environment.   Their history of hyperbole is legion, and all statements coming from their trade groups should be taken with several tons of salt.

 

Battlefield 3 : Unboxing, Downloading, and Hardcore Mode

RPN is officially up to spec when it comes to games.  It has been something of a struggle to keep up in the ever crushening economy, but as per, it’s worth it.  Proof of point is in the following two videos.  This is significant as to the level of “virtual reality” 12.4 GHZ of processing power tied together with 8GB of superfast memory (2 of it dedicated solely to drawing and physics) can create in real time (for under $1G, mind you, 27″  monitor included ).   Computers of similar abilities will cost about half this much in 18 months, and be called consoles once again.

But enough preamble, RPN Gaming is live once again.  Here’s the proof.

Normally I like to try and finish a game before doing a full review. In this case, if you think about war as hardcore mode.  Here’s my full Battlefield 3 experience.

NOTE: The above video is also a nod to the curious, and some may say “flippant” nature of the curious crossover of the content of this site…that is…international politics and video games.   While the events portrayed and the re-imagined in the gaming world are never to be confused as the real thing, they can often offer a visceral insight into the nature of certain real life events.

Hardcore mode…IRL there’s no turning it off.

SIDENOTE: For some damn reason EA makes you install Origin (their “Steam-alike”) in order to install and play Battlefield 3.  This is, IMHO, utter crap.  It crashed updating, and wouldn’t let me install from the DVD’s forcing a 5-hour download of  a game I bought at the store.  Not to mention that, as present, Origin is in freaking BETA.   For those not familiar with software code words, that means “it crashes a lot and for no apparent reason, use with caution.”  As that software is the foundation of the B3 experience…right now it sucks.

I Guess That Makes It Official, Game On [WARNING: REALITY]

If you are wondering what the crowd is a gathering around when the government thugs use a flashbang, it’s this man.

Two tours Iraq, check.  One tour Oakland...

If you are wondering what kind of low-life scum sucking socialistic parasite he is to be attending such a protest, first up, fuck you, second, here you go.

Oakland’s independent police review body will examine the clashes between riot officers and protesters that left an Iraq war veteran in a critical condition as Occupy protestors prepare to rally at the same spot for a third night of protests.

Police battled protesters following an Occupy Oakland march to demonstrate against the closing of two occupations in the city in the early hours of Tuesday morning. More than 100 people have been arrested in Oakland since police cleared a camp in Frank Ogawa plaza.

Scott Olsen, 24, suffered a fractured skull and brain swelling after he was allegedly hit in the head by a police projectile during the clashes on Tuesday. A spokesperson for Highland hospital in east Oakland confirmed he was critically ill after being admitted on Tuesday night.

[full story]

One thing I generally know is that when people have nothing left, or very little to risk other than their own skin in the game, they tend to push toward extreme solutions.  There is a race on now, and that race is whether or not our society can change fast enough to keep itself relevant to the vast majority of the people in our society.  It’s dang near an article of faith around here.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

To be clear, I don’t think OWS is, as of yet, a full-on revolutionary movement.  But there is a stark difference in what is going on here and what happened with the Tea Party.

It’s evident now that “Tea Party” is really just code for “Hardcore Republican”.  I call them “Fox News Republicans” and their ultimate act of defiance culminated in the 2010 elections.  This hugely revolutionary act was to elect a bunch of…wait for it…hardcore Republicans to the House, and give control of that chamber back to the folks who had it under Bush. (they failed in the Senate, because Senate districts, known as “states”, are harder to gerrymander and get nutjobs elected on straight party votes than house districts).

So any comparison between the two “movements” is shallow at best, and more likely the result of lazy “left-right” thinking than any real analysis.

There’s a book that one needs to read to understand why I’m being so melodramatic (I’m not) about the situation, and throwing out big words and bloody pictures.   It’s here.  A very quick read, in it you will find a section about this.. (from the ‘pedia).

 To be successful, these mass movements need the adherents to be willing to sacrifice themselves and others for the future goals. To do so, mass movements often glorify the past and devalue the present. Mass movements appeal to frustrated people who are dissatisfied with their current state, but are capable of a strong belief in the future. As well, mass movements appeal to people who want to escape a flawed self by creating an imaginary self and joining a collective whole. Some categories of people who may be attracted to mass movements include poor people, misfits, former soldiers, and people who feel thwarted in their endeavors.

To put it simply, you fucked with the wrong Marine.

I’m not sure if you folks are aware, but our President (the one who won a Nobel Peace Prize) is ending wars left and right.  He’s going to end the one in Afghanistan before the 2012 election, bank on it.  That’s a whole lot less soldiers being needed, a whole bunch of which are going to get shafted by a government now focused on cutting spending (on them).

That’s, as they use to say in that commercial, two great tastes that taste great together, a purpose…and an army.

OWS isn’t going away.  A good portion of the 99% are paying attention, and now there’s blood on the ground.    Our blood, on our ground.

So yea…like I said…game on.

 

Seems like a good week to end Wars

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama on Friday declared an end to the Iraq war, one of the longest and most divisive conflicts in U.S. history, announcing that all U.S. troops would be withdrawn from the country by year’s end.

Obama’s statement put an end to months of wrangling over whether the U.S. would maintain a force in Iraq beyond 2011.

“After nearly nine years,” the president, “America’s war in Iraq will be over.”

via Obama announces total Iraq troop withdrawal – seattlepi.com.

Wonder if this guy will ever get a prize for doing so much to bring peace and freedom to the parts of the world that long for it.

....aaaand done.

Guess whats next on the chopping block before tax cuts for the super-wealthy…

….this is going to be a long series, I would guess.  Once you put yourself on an unsustainable path (and without new revenue, we’re on one), it’s just a matter of time until everything gets the ax. 

First up…those guys that fought in that war we cut taxes on the wealthy to pay for (and then just borrowed a bunch of money from them to pay for it…at interest….Genius W. Bush…I’ll tell ya what…anyway…).

WASHINGTON – The military retirement system has long been considered untouchable – along with Social Security and Medicare. But in these days of soaring deficits, it seems everything is a potential target for budget cutters. A Pentagon-sponsored study says military pensions are no longer untouchable – they’re unaffordable.

CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports high-level, closely-held meetings are taking place at the Pentagon regarding a radical proposal to overhaul retirement for the nation’s 1.4 million service members – a bedrock guarantee of military service.

The proposal comes from an influential panel of military advisors called the Defense Business Board. Their plan, laid out in a 24-page presentation “Modernizing the Military Retirement System,” would eliminate the familiar system under which anyone who serves 20 years is eligible for retirement at half their salary. Instead, they’d get a 401k-style plan with government contributions.

They’d have to wait until normal retirement age. It would save $250 billion dollars over 20 years.

Douglas Holtz-Eakin,

I’m going to stop right there.  Douglas Holtz-Eakin is a douchebag, so if you want to read what douchey things he said, click on the link.  Note how he said this is more important than *ever* looking at a single cent in tax increases, because those are simply Un-American!!   However, screwing over our military is “very important” to look at.

The proposal leaves a lot of blanks to be filled in, including whether to exempt current service members so their plans won’t change.

CBS News spoke to some active duty troops who agreed costs must be cut – but worry the number of experienced soldiers will dwindle with no incentive to stay enlisted for 20 years.

RobotPirateNinja has also spoken to an active duty troop near retirement who this directly affects.  They agree that costs must be cut, but worry about the effects such action might have and to what degree contracts will be re-written. 

RPN also has a number of friends who this will directly affect, but hasn’t pestered them yet with questions.   While RPN does feel military spending is something that needs to be reduced as we go forward (AHEM!!!) , this talk of screwing over my friends makes me rather unobjective on this issue.   This is bullshit, and is the first in a looong line of bullshit to come.   

This is one of many ideas that will be “floated” in the media to see how strongly the public reacts.      Let’s see what our readers think…

Ed note: As I too, gear up for the 2012 election (if you haven’t guessed yet, I do a lot of  Presidential politics…I’ll be doing a LOT more…trust me), I’ve decided to cut off the talking points that the MSM puts out unless I’m planning on debunking them.

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.