Friday, July 18, 2014

another tragedy

Generally I don't write pieces here so close together, but when events are happening one on top of another, it's hard to resist a few words  about the second, which in many ways is a greater tragedy than the one before it. Both are situations and in places, which have the potential to draw the world into a conflagration the likes of which nobody should want to see and yet constantly we seem to step right to the edge of it.

Who wants these kinds of wars? I can't imagine anybody and yet some do profit from such events and ever since Hearst used jingoism to push the United States into its first foreign intervention, The Spanish-American War, it has been used again and again. 

So what happened in the Ukraine when a Malyasian commerical airliner was shot down with the loss of nearly 300 citizens, many of them those who make a positive difference in the world, scientists, students, family people and killed for probably a stupid gloating mistake?

Rachel Maddow had a good show last night on how many times this has happened. It's not common, but this isn't the first time either. Always the government who shot down a commercial airliner denied it; then like with the US in the Strait of Hormuz, eventually reparation was paid. It was a mistake. Likely this was a mistake, but when groups have these very big boy guns and they don't really have the technology or expertise to safely man them, this can be the result-- sometimes even when they do have it.

What I read is that the US probably already has proof via photographs of the missile being shot and who manned it. Experts say this is a region what we watch very heavily. Definitive proof has not been put out at least not when I wrote this. What might be their motivation to hold off? They are though saying they believe it was pro-Russian separtists who did it.

Now if Russian soldiers, not rebels, were manning that missile launcher, then does the blame belong to Russia? What can the world do about it if it should even be proven to be the case? Go into WWIII? Anybody seriously think that will happen? 

Once again whatever happened to that airliner, it will be a government entity behind it-- whether the Russian backed rebels, the Ukrainian government in some nitwitted and senseless attack (which makes the least sense of all), or Russia itself (again doesn't seem they would do that but Putin might not condemn those who did since he is backing them). 

The tragedy won't be caused by the ordinary people on the airliner or most of the people in any of those countries. It is the ordinary people though who pay time and again. Will we, as humans, ever get smart?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Middle East and wait, are we going there again???

 I have a friend who is informed regarding the Jewish perspective in her region regarding what is going on in Israel and Gaza. She and I tend to argue and not always taking dependable sides on each issue. Basically she says most of the American Jews she knows are not happy with what Israel is doing.

Then I came across the following on this 'war' and thought it made good sense-- if you read the actual words and don't jump to conclusions the words don't imply.
 "When did we get so "civilized" that we can't tolerate civilian casualties in war? The current coverage of the Israeli / Hamas conflict is just the latest example, just read an article crying out for "the sanctity of civilians". The last time I looked, civilian casualties were part of the price you pay when you get into this sort of thing.
"I don't want to debate the current conflict, but I'm sure the civilians in Dresden or London might have a few things to say about "the sanctity of civilians", or in Hiroshima, or in Paris, or many cities in mother Russia, or Vietnam, or ...... the list goes on and on.
"It seems now that one of the primary strategies in a wartime situation (as we've seen in Syria, Sadam's IRAQ during the war there, or in GAZA) is you embed your military assets in civilian areas (preferably next to a children's hospital if you can find one) so that any retaliation causes "human suffering" and the international press and UN officials can scream bloody murder about "the sanctity of civilians".
"Seems so strange to me, like these people really think that military action should take place in an isolated field somewhere, with each side lined up like the British infantry during the revolutionary war. I would suggest it would be more helpful if the press and the UN focused on identifying the truth about the conflicts and bring pressure on the "bad guys" (and yes, I know that's an oversimplification) and quit whining about the omelet makers breaking a few eggs. (and yes, I know that's a crass way of dealing with dying civilians)."         Smoke
I agree that we have somehow gotten the idea a war can be fought strategically with very narrow targets that protect civilians. It's unrealistic. Even in early European Wars, our own Revolutionary and Civil Wars in this country, war was fought amongst the people with collateral damage that no newspaper rushed to record. Later warfare began to be fought in newspapers and Jingoism led us into many a foreign war as feelings were manipulated. Today Americans have had a very unrealistic view of what war is. 

I doubt anybody in the US likes what they see happening in Israel between the Jews and Palestinians for humanitarian reasons if not the very real possibility it could drag other countries also into it. The issue though is what can we do about it from this distance and when it's their decision/their consequences and not ours?

This has been an ongoing undeclared war, but the most recent set of excesses began when the Israelis reacted to the murder of three of their young men, which sounds like a criminal enterprise gone wrong. It began with horror and escalated into the brutal and horrifying murder of a Palestinian youth. The horrors of seeing young people murdered, especially when they are innocent of any wrong, escalated when the whole thing turned back into a war or rockets and destruction. 

The latest example of 'collateral damage' four young boys running on a beach, trying to get somewhere safe right before they were killed by shrapnel from a nearby Israeli ship's shelling. It would be hard to imagine anyone, in Israel or anywhere, feeling good about seeing those photos and then having to wonder why!

It's obvious the Palestinians are paying the price for what Hamas is doing. Whether they fairly voted for Hamas to represent them can be debated but right now the war is between two political bodies-- Hamas and the Israeli government who are each using what weapons they have. The ones to pay the greatest price are the civilians; and in some cases, when one power is weaker, the plan can be to let the civilians pay that price to win what they consider to be the higher goals. It's how terrorism works

If I had a wonderful answer to it and a lot of other things that seem so terrible in today's world, I'd be offering it. I just know sometimes we have to wait to assess a situation. And for most people to read about what is happening there, like this piece-- [What it is like to live and die in Gaza] -- it is very sad and hard to even imagine how it has to be to be for those living in Gaza or Israel right now. :( It doesn't help when we over here offer our easy answers because we can't really imagine what it's like for them. Is there just something about a certain type of human that always takes us to these places?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

on the border

This is one of those topics, where I as a moderate, can find right and left mad at me. I consider myself to be a practical person, not an idealist. What I want to know from each is-- what's your solution for immigration beyond tomorrow. Long term not short term?

Yes, that story came from Fox, but read its facts before you toss it out. And then get practical for what do we do? As soon as I get practical, I make someone mad. 

Here is how I see it practically speaking. Three countries in Central America are facing drastic poverty and violence issues-- some of their violence is from the drug trade, for which the US bears some responsibility as a major user of illegal drugs. These countries seem to be going under in terms of government strength, and their people are frightened. They think the US has better answers (Some of them should visit Chicago to see how that works for them) and so they want to come here as you can imagine our immigrant ancestors did-- as everybody came here from somewhere else, including those who call themselves Native Americans. Evolution began in Africa, and outward from there spread mankind. That's a fact whether someone wishes to literally believe in a creation Bible story or not.

Today we are being asked to deal with an immigration crisis, while having a law in place that mandates cutting government programs through what they call Sequestration (with currently the exception of those mandated by law like SS, Medicare, Medicaid but which they get around by how they pay the doctors in the latter two) by a certain percentage each year to pay down the debt brought on by tax cuts and wars that were put on the tab.

An additional problem today is based on our own mythology, a lot of it based on how something is versus how we want it always to be. So the left, using the Statue of Liberty for evidence of our duty, says:

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Now exactly how to pay for this is left vague (ideology always is), as the Iraq war was, as the tax cuts for the richest. Those thinking the latter way also claim government should only fund a big military, fight wars and make things better for commerce, which right wing leaders spend their time trying to find ways to do-- which incidentally makes it richer for the politicians also through lobbyists and all the sweet programs out there to help them benefit on the side for doing their 'job.' 

In the meantime, we have to find practical solutions to a lot of problems which frankly I think, as a moderate, neither the right nor left are practical enough to do! Idealism might seem good, but it can be very destructive when it ignores realities for what is wished. Or as with the tax cut, what will happen that goes against commonsense but they do it anyway and then try to find some reason it didn't work-- besides the obvious.

I guess we thought we had a kind of moderate president in Obama except he seems to also be on the side of the rich because most politicians know which side their bread is buttered on. He is stymied with real solutions to the border by limitations on money, by ideology, and by his own inclination to be grandiose.

So here's what I want to know. If these Central American immigrants keep coming, if they don't have jobs and many are children, what's the plan? I'd like to hear that from the right and left. I live where I see immigrants regularly who I can pretty easily tell from where they came-- and how recently. If you live in migrant regions, you also know by physical characteristics. Previously though, many came to work. 

This is different. Many of these are children. They cannot work. The law in 2008 was evidently put in place to protect Central American children  from human traffickers. What's to protect them up here from those who lurk within church groups and charities and take advantage of the weak? The Pope recently said he thinks 2% of the priests are pedophiles. That might be accurate for charities and other religions.

So if they put unattended children into individual homes, already we were evidently short of foster homes, will they overlook standards to find more such homes in a hurry? If they build orphanages or set up retired buildings for such, anyone who knows history knows how that used to be, what's to make it better now?

My problem with idealism, such is on the State of Liberty from a poem, is it always sounds good, but it stops right there. Practical people have to make it work. Idealists never worry about that.

"Send them all back!"
"Keep them all here!"

Neither one goes into what comes next. It's up to the practical to sound hard-hearted, and make them both mad when they say--
"Then what? How do we make it better?" 

It doesn't sound as pretty does it? It doesn't have instant or easy answers, but it's where solutions will be found. 

I'm to the point that I get mad at the extremes on both ends of the political spectrum. A pox on both their houses. Wait, don't want to say that as that's the other fear with this rapid, uncontrolled influx of humans. Yeah, a genuine plague would do a lot to cut population except it might be those I love being cut; so no poxes on anybody's house!

Let's look for real answers and not just to the poverty in Central America and these people coming up, but to our own country's. It will take voting in practical people, willing sometimes to use tough medicine, not platitudes. They won't be idealists, who should stick to writing poems :).

Sunday, July 13, 2014

interesting premise

This was an interesting article and premise. It makes sense to me after seeing what Tea Partiers do at Town Hall meetings, how they will vote for one of their own even if it means a Democrat wins. They are fundamentalists. That I always knew but that it has the dynamics of a cult explains the Clyde Bundy craziness when the reality is this guy was trying to avoid paying lease fees by declaring himself not owing to the 'pharisees' but instead should go to his god-- local government under his control.

It explains something else I have argued and why it didn't work. I said Occupy had to go political if it hoped to make a real difference. It could not stay on the streets and get anything really done. But it never did. Why? Because it didn't have the fervor of religion behind it is one possibility.

When you hear someone like Ted Cruz speaking with religious zeal or you listen to a Dinesh D'Souza as he argues intellectually why Obama has destroyed our country but it can be taken back (taken back by whom you might ask... somebody knows by whom and they are backing D'Souza, I'd bet), with guys like these two, what you see and hear are either religious zealots or charlatans, snake oil salesmen. Take your pick which.

Hearing Limbaugh again last week, it's easier to see him as a charlatan. Sure he goes for the slick answers and ignores many facts on anything he's ranting about, but he barely sounds as though he believes it. He is making millions off saying it but does he believe it? I am not sure. He sure knows who keeps him on the air.

Ted Cruz though, he is a born messiah and as radical as those who lead the Caliph type cults in the Middle East. He seems to totally believe it. Likewise D'Souza . He puts together a string of facts for his books, makes them sound very intellectual and gets best sellers-- often by the right wing buying up a lot of them to start and get them ratings. True believers follow because he gives intellectual credence to what they already want to believe. Cruz provides the emotional depth as he uses the oration of an evangelist which he really comes across as being-- evangelism for a new America where Christian believers make the rules.

Do facts matter to any of these purveyors of this new religion (which often encompasses foreign wars necessary to keep unity among those believers)? Of course, but they have to be carefully chosen and used. When I was in churches, they called it the satan sandwich which suits it well, whether you believe in a real Satan or not-- string together two truths and in the middle is a lie. The lie is believed because of what surrounds it.

Americans need to be very aware that two truths in a statement with a lie doesn't make the lie have any value or even connection to the supposed conclusion. A few classes in basic logic would help.

Facts: Advanced civilizations have run on oil. Canada has oil shale that can produce oil. A pipeline can be built. Jobs can be created. Liberals don't like things that damage the environment. All can be true or false but totally unconnected to each other. To draw conclusions from two facts, they have to be related.

Ted Cruz having the ability to speak like an orator of religious powers does not mean he's spouting religion. It does not mean he's lying. It does not mean he is bad. To figure out where he fits, you have to read his words without the emotions. See what his agenda is not where his passion lies or how he emotionally inspires the listener (this is also true for Obama who is no small shakes on oratory himself).

When someone like Glenn Beck wants to do charitable work for immigrant children, the Tea Party base jumps all over him. The fact that he's always done such work is ignored by the right and left who are just looking for something to use-- looking for what they want to believe already. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

got to do something...

I wrote what amounted to a rant in answer to someone in one of my blogs who was finding fault with Obama for being a weak leader over Syria and for not immediately okaying the Keystone Pipeline. I figured with all that work, I should put my answer here with a little adjustment. I see a lot I could be ranting about, but it seems to not do much good. Still once in awhile it's good to vent. This was more or less my answer to his complaints about Obama.

You just do not like him and that makes you find fault. So what you'd like is for him to do something and stick to it? What if the first thing the repubs wanted him to do was support the guy who now looks like he wants to be the next bin Laden! McCain couldn't wait to get over there and lend his support to the 'freedom fighters'. Give him arms, they said. And now it seems obvious with what he's done in Iraq that this guy is trying to inspire a global jihad as he's named himself the Caliph (which is very significant to Muslims and Arabs).

That is why I don't trust Republicans to vote sensibly. They like someone stubborn like GW who does something even when it's wrong. A leader who rules with nuance makes them upset. Nobody knows what to do with Syria but some would do something anyway. Oh and how would you pay for that new war? You guys also do not like taxes and that's how we got this huge debt now which you don't want but your solution on that is make the poor pay with less benefits and take away public education and health care. So you pay for wars on the back of the weak and you wage them with no idea what you are doing which is what everybody with a knowledge of history said about Iraq including the first Bush. It will break apart but no, would not listen. Then like to whine when it's a lifetime problem which it is and will be.

And on the oil, the extra jobs only last as long as the pipeline takes to build across the country. It would go to Texas refineries, maybe build a new one and then be shipped to South America. China will get its oil one way or another, and I bet we are shipping them some of our excess now as the global oil market sends it to where it is close enough.

When that oil pipeline leaks someday, due to a big quake such as has happened before in some of that region (or even brought on by all our fracking), and ruins the Ogallala aquifer, you will find out what that does to your bread basket and Texas, but Republicans who vote for the same idiots over and over never seem to learn about long term versus short term. They want cheap and quick answers when life doesn't provide them in a LOT of situations. They vote for leaders promising pie in the sky and then get mad when it didn't happen. Most likely that will mean Romney again next time because all the rest of the possibilities are wackos-- which becomes obvious if you bother to listen to them on the stump. What the right wants is a Republican president, who will end legal abortion (repubs are doing it in a lot of states now), get a constitutional amendment to end gay marriage, spy more than happens now, cut taxes again with that cockamamie idea that it will bring in more revenue, be back to fighting wars every which direction and then whine when the debt rockets.

I like Obama. I won't say he's always doing right. I am not thrilled at his not pushing to end this migrational flood by asking for a change in the law that exempted Central Americans under 18 from regular deportation proceedings (and seeing photos of some of those 'kids' what we are letting in are young men who could easily be gang affiliated and make our problem with that worse than it was). His problem for dealing with that though are fundamentalist lefties who want to open the floodgates and let in everybody who wants to come with no more idea of how to pay for that than repubs do with the endless wars they favor.

AND if we had armed this guy in Syria, the one who was such a hero to the right, we'd be seeing just what we are now with our guns used also (now he's just taking them away from the Iraqis who we were told would fight to defend their own country). This Caliph will be a bin Laden if he doesn't get killed by Obama's drones-- which I bet is the goal about now. And some nutty American leader armed bin Laden originally. but heaven forbid that a President would not do anything. Got to do something to satisfy that right wing base! grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr 

Update: I decided to spruce up this blog a bit and may do more. One addition is more topical blogs. If you have one you like, one that you feel gives a thoughtful look at today's problems, partisan issues, as well as just a good read, give me the link so I can see if it seems a good fit here. I had several I would have liked to add but they did not have interactive links yet. First Look Media though is acquiring Matt Taibbi, whose journalism I like a lot; so it'll be here if it gets a link that works. Most of what I have added, I was reading. Well, I could not bring myself to add Drudge here but I do check it regularly. It's though more of a compilation than an opinion site-- well other than everything he has there is a drudge opinion...

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Who's got your back?

Are elections all about the money? Can that be changed by ordinary citizens and how they vote? Read this, do some research on these guys, and then figure out if you want them or any billionaire, right or left wing, running your government. IF a billionaire is trying to do this, at least look at whether they have theirs or your interests in mind. It is possible to be benevolent and wealthy. Have you ever looked though at what these guys are trying to do to our system? If you haven't, it's time you did.

Robert Reich-- how to break the Kochs

Reich is on a roll and made another good point with this article.

One might say what does it matter when Hillary is paid $200,000 for a speech or a Supreme Court Justice gets a cushy vacation, but when that happens, whose side will these people be on? Why are those big bucks paid out? And how much do most Americans know about any of it? 

Thursday, June 05, 2014

It's really not about the guy...

On the latest right wing attempt to find a reason to impeach Obama, he, like Clinton earlier, seems eager to help them. It wasn't that he made a mistake with Bergdorf. I'll discuss that more below but read this first.

From what I understand of the rules of war. When the war is over, the enemy combatants must be released. POW are prisoners of war. Unless these men have been relabeled as terrorists, they were soldiers. Now if some in Gitmo are actually terrorists, that might be dealt with otherwise, but the ones I read about sounded like military leaders of the Taliban. Yes, we don't like them. We also didn't like the Japanese or Vietnamese while we were fighting them but did we keep their soldiers and leaders prisoners after the wars ended?

Are we wanting to abide by the rules of civilized warfare, or do we have a right wing element who only want to condemn Obama whatever he does? Are Americans that easily led that they will fall into whatever the latest jingoism says by someone like Lindsey Graham who is about as disgusting as a leader as any I can imagine.

If the right gets the Senate, look for impeachment and Obama seems eager to help them do it. He did the right thing by the trade. Say what you want but the way I read it, rescue by force in Pakistan given the situation was not possible. Leaving behind the guy who may have become unhinged was also not acceptable. The trade-off was of those who should be released when we quit fighting there.

BUT I don't think highly of what Obama did with a Rose Garden show to try and get political hay from this whole thing. I think that was totally stupid. He knew the guy's disappearance had been suspect as to what was going on; but if you read the above article, why don't we all wait and see what's been going on. He tried to escape twice from the Taliban. We should just wait and see-- while we recognize that war breaks many people even those who think they could handle it. 

The ones who are condemning this are the ones who have blocked more spending for the veterans. They are on both sides of every issue depending on what they think they can use. Most of all it's about whatever they can use to go after the unacceptable Democratic, black President.