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Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Our thought process is as follows: terrorism is a threat, and it justifies waging war anywhere on earth where there are terrorists. As we all know, however, it's impossible to kill every last terrorist. Thus the war on terrorism rolls on. Even if we leave Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, it'll continue.And he's also right when he says Obama has not done enough to bring the country back to a rational place in our so-called 'War on Terror' or to define a victory.
Give the hawks their due: terrorism is an ongoing threat to the United States. In fact, it's likely to pose a bigger threat with every year that passes, insofar as technological advances are permitting people with meager resources to obtain ever deadlier weapons. Heaven forbid they get a nuke or a killer virus. What the hawks fail to recognize, however, is that perpetual war poses a bigger threat to the citizenry of a superpower than does terrorism. Already it is helping to bankrupt us financially, undermining our civil liberties, corroding our values, triggering abusive prosecutions, empowering the executive branch in ways that are anathema to the system of checks and balances implemented by the Founders, and causing us to degrade one another.
You can follow Conor on Twitter @conor64
"Watch what she has done," says the Republican close to Romney. "Has she contacted one major donor across the country about putting together an organization? Has she talked to one member of the Republican National Committee about working for a campaign, or one governor, or one former governor about working for a campaign? The answer is no."The point of York's article is that all the serious Republicans 'in the know' believe this is just another stunt by Sarah to grab the attention she craves. But if anyone could make a presidential run on a half-assed campaign, it's Palin.
Campaigns are filled with routine work. For example, on Thursday, the Pawlenty team sent out a message headlined, "Governor Pawlenty Unveils Florida Finance Team." It's not newsy, but it's the kind of thing presidential campaigns have to do. Palin's not doing it. There are no Palin campaign organizations in early primary and caucus states, or anywhere else, for that matter.
I've always maintained that Sarah doesn't want to be president, but she doesn't want anyone else to be president either. She wants to be the most important person in America without any actual responsibilities.
Saturday, May 28, 2011
In a 2008 speech to the Israeli Knesset Olmert said, "We must give up Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem and return to the core of the territory that is the State of Israel prior to 1967, with minor corrections dictated by the reality created since then." Sound familiar?
Netanyahu wants to pick a fight with the US, not just its strongest ally, but it's only ally. Zakaria,
Netanyahu’s references to the “indefensible” borders of 1967 reveal him to be mired in a world that has gone away. The chief threat to Israel today is not from a Palestinian army. Israel has the region’s strongest economy and military, complete with an arsenal of nuclear weapons. The chief threats to Israel are from new technologies — rockets, biological weapons — and demography. Its physical existence is less in doubt than its democratic existence as it continues to rule millions of Palestinians in serf-like conditions — entitled to neither a vote nor a country.
The path to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been clear for 20 years. Israel would cede most of the land it conquered in the 1967 war to a Palestinian state, keeping the major settlement blocks. In return, it would get a series of measures designed to protect its security. That’s why the process is called land for peace. The problem is that Netanyahu has never believed in land for peace. His strategy has been to put up obstacles, create confusion and wait it out. But one day there will be peace, along the lines that people have talked about for 20 years. And Netanyahu will be remembered only as a person before the person who made peace, a comma in history.
Friday, May 27, 2011
And that scene at 20th and Iowa Ave--which I'm approaching right now--in that area there were about 400 to 500 homes, and 99 percent of that neighborhood was flattened. There were no walls standing, and all I could hear was gas spewing from all the broken gas lines. I had a fire on top of the hill behind me. Homes and buildings were on fire, engulfed in flames within seconds of the tornado. And then all I heard--it sounds like thousands but it may have only been 50 people or 20 people--all I heard were screams and moans of terror. "Help me, help me!" just blood curdling screams from all over the neighborhood, and I was the first person to take my vehicle and drive over the debris, and I went as far up Iowa Street as far as I could towards the heart of the tornado. I got within about 50 yards of the first houses, and then when I walked down Iowa Street, the first thing I saw in the middle of the street--the debris was about two to three feet, two to four feet deep everywhere--I saw bodies in people's front yards. People got blown out of their houses, dead and alive. That's what I witnessed.For three and half hours Jeff was alone on Iowa street digging people out of the rubble that was once a home. For three and half hours there were no ambulances, EMTs or firetrucks anywhere to be had. The first-responder system in Joplin was completely overwhelmed by the devastation. Finally, out of frustration, Jeff went to Facebook reporting the number of injured and killed and pleading to anyone listening that he needed at least 100 ambulances for just his location.
As Jeff was digging out two elderly women who were both confined to wheel chairs,
Right behind, them, I turned around and found a black dog. I'm about to cry--[muffled sobs] It was really bad. [speaking through the sobs] There was a black dog behind me. It looked like it wasn't injured, the dog looked fine. It kept barking. Because I have animals, I love animals, I know what's going on. He just kept backing and he was standing on top of rubble, and there was an elderly gentleman about three feet under the rubble. His owner was about three feet under the rubble, and the dog's telling me, "Help me, there's somebody here." He's barking, so I go over there. This is house after house. This is what I witnessed down Iowa Street. So I started uncovering him, and the guy was alive, not critically injured with three feet of rubble on him. Again, a 75 year-old gentleman.As a community, how do you plan for such catastrophic events? Joplin is not exactly in the back woods. I'm a little surprised that ambulances and fire fighters under mutual aid pacts weren't pouring in.
125 firefighters from St Louis City and Country and surrounding areas, including an eight member search and rescue team from the City of St Louis and 26 St Louis County police officers headed to Joplin in the immediate aftermath.
Israel, the largest recipient in the world of American foreign aid, never has, and never will act against its own interests to further any interest of the US. This is not to say that the US doesn't have an interest in Israel's survival as a state, but our support has to be limited by our own interests and the interests of peace in the Middle East.
Matt Yglesias takes on the issue of our relationship with Israel in his American Progress column:Friends Without Benefits.
According to Netanyahu, it's in the vital interest of Israel to annex 100 percent of Jerusalem to the Jewish state, including neighborhoods that are inhabited nearly exclusively by Palestinians. Netanyahu also thinks it's vital for Israel to prevent any hypothetical future Republic of Palestine to have a military. But that's not to say he thinks there should be no military on Palestinian soil; he just wants to make sure it's an Israeli military stationed in the Jordan River Valley. For good measure, he added that "in Judea and Samaria [that is, the West Bank], the Jewish people are not foreign occupiers."You can read the whole column here.
This is not an agenda that takes the interests of the region's Arab population seriously. Which makes sense, in a way. Israel is a democracy, as Netanyahu was at pains to note, and its prime minister is accountable to an Israeli electorate. The current Israeli priority is to enforce the interests of Israelis rather than promote fairness for Arabs. But when America positions itself as Israel's best friend, this signals to Palestinians and hundreds of millions of Arabs and Muslims around the world that we, too, don't take the interests of the Palestinian people seriously. One can debate how big an impact this has on our policies throughout the greater Middle East, but it clearly doesn't help.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
I think it's more likely Palin is upset by recent political obits and is simply angling for more of the sycophantic attention she craves. By the way, Palin the Movie comes to Iowa in June.
Palin's grievance driven agenda of cultural resentments is perfect for the Tea Party crowd but is a big turn-off to independent voters and even mainstream Republican voters who have bigger concerns than taking revenge on all those who Sarah believes have been mean to her.
Also, I'm not so sure that Palin has "nearly unrivaled fundraising potential" as the AP story asserts.
Yes, Palin is a highly sought after and highly paid speaker and has made a real fortune these last 2 years, but that's not the same as raising big money for a campaign. Sure, her many fans will give her lots of small donation support which is not critical (just ask Obama), but for a serious run for POTUS you need big dollar institutional supporters and I don't see Palin scoring in this department. In fact, I think institutional GOP will freeze her out for fear of suffering an embarrassing defeat.
Someone recently observed that while no Dem will ever turn Alabama or Mississippi blue, Palin guarantees that Ohio goes blue.
And finally, if Sarah runs and suffers an embarrassing loss, she's done in a really big way. And Sarah is far too thin skinned to allow this to happen.
My 2 cents. And I said Illinois would never elect someone named Barack Obama to the senate.
UPDATE: The NYTimes has basically the same story.
IF General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won’t go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed.Today, Romney told the NYTimes that the credit for saving the auto industry is all his, and if only the POTUS would have adopted his plan earlier the tragedy that has befallen the nation over the auto bailout could have been avoided.
The douchebaggery of Mitt Romney is truly breathtaking. It's as if he began this week saying 'Newt may have been the biggest douchebag last week, but this week that title is all mine.'
This man is truly shameless.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
The GOP for the second consecutive presidential election cycle has been flailing about* for a consensus candidate who the thinking republicans can support but who will also be acceptable to the kooks.
They were in the same predicament in 2008 with the thinking GOP not wanting McCain who they have longed believed is an unstable nut, and the lunatic base who mostly liked McCain but really none of the others. (The thinkers have always loved Romney but the kook will never bit) Early in 08 there started to be a drum beat for Fred Thompson who suddenly became the panacea for all the party's problems. Only Fred Thompson turned out to be one of the laziest men on Earth who allowed himself to be so flattered by the attention that he thought he could stay home and wait for word that the nomination was his.
This year, with the party kooks holding even more power than before, the GOP is again searching for the Great White Hope to deliver them from minority status to running the country into the ground once more. This is where Mitch Daniels comes in. By all accounts a nice man and talented politician and policy wonk who was just re-elected governor of Indiana. Except that Mitch has a family issue with his first wife for the second time. In 2000, Mitch's wife left him and abandoned her children (the youngest at that time was 8) to run off with a California doctor who she later married and then divorced to return to Mitch and the kids in 2007. Understandable, Mitch did not want to open his family up the scrutiny that would come from the keeper of American family values -- The serial divorcing GOP -- so he has gracefully said 'thanks but no thanks'.
So the media and some conservative pundits have again started bringing up Texas Gov Rick Perry who it seems is an even bigger dim-wit than the last Texas Governor to run for president. Now a poll that has just come out tested Perry's popularity and it seems that even GOP voters have lost their taste for dim-witted Texas cowboys running the White House.
Perry polled near the back of the field among a slate of possible GOP contenders, coming in at just 4%, tying him with former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty. Sarah Palin came out on top at 12%, while Newt Gingrich trailed at 11%, and Mike Huckabee -- who announced last week that he wouldn't run -- and Ron Paul tied at 10%. Mitt Romney and Michelle Bachmann both garnered 7% of the vote, and Donald Truhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifmp earned 6%.Even Texans who once famously loved their latest dim-witted cowboy governor have turned on him with only 41% approving of his job as governor. Texas, which budgets in 2 year cycles has followed the national trend and gone from boom to bust.
To be fair to Perry, he has steadfastly maintained that he is not interested in running for POTUS at this time.
So with Perry out, who will be the next Great White Hope for the GOP?
* Before we Democrats gloat too much about the thin GOP bench of presidential candidates, who do we have waiting in the wings? After Tim Kaine, I've got no one. Anybody?
UPDATE (5-27-2011): Perry may run after all.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Just as no man is an island, no country can be either. On its present course Israel is on its way to becoming a pariah state, a status in which it cannot indefinitely or even perhaps long survive. Neither the fact that Israel faces a profound cultural animosity among the region's Arab populations nor the bad faith that often greets its actions nor even the anti-Semitism that is sometimes beneath the animus changes this essential fact. The make-up of the 21st century world is simply not compatible with a perpetual military occupation of another people, especially one that crosses a boundary of ethnicity and religion. Only the willfully oblivious can't see that.Josh is doing some excellent writing on the Israeli/American relationship and the path to peace.
On Jan. 16,...a team of senior military officers from the U.S. Central Command... arrived at the Pentagon to brief Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The team had been dispatched by CENTCOM commander Gen. David Petraeus to underline his growing worries at the lack of progress in resolving the issue. The 33-slide, 45-minute PowerPoint briefing stunned Mullen. The briefers reported that there was a growing perception among Arab leaders that the U.S. was incapable of standing up to Israel, that CENTCOM's mostly Arab constituency was losing faith in American promises, that Israeli intransigence on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was jeopardizing U.S. standing in the region....Frustrated, Petraeus requested that special envoy George Mitchell ("too old and too slow")be replaced and the West Bank and Gaza be removed from European Command and placed under Petraeus's purview in Central Command.
The January Mullen briefing was unprecedented. No previous CENTCOM commander had ever expressed himself on what is essentially a political issue; which is why the briefers were careful to tell Mullen that their conclusions followed from a December 2009 tour of the region where, on Petraeus's instructions, they spoke to senior Arab leaders. "Everywhere they went, the message was pretty humbling," a Pentagon officer familiar with the briefing says. "America was not only viewed as weak, but its military posture in the region was eroding."
The Netanyahu government has responded by using their Republican agents (and some Democrats as well) in Congress to undermine the President and American military in service of Israel.
Republican leaders of Congress have been all to happy to oblige.
Last November following the Midterm elections Eric Cantor met one-on-one with Natanyahu in New York and assured the Israeli Prime Minister that the new Republican majority would work against U.S government in service of Israel. Following the Netanyahu meeting, Cantor's office released a statement that was blunt,"Eric stressed that the new Republican majority will serve as a check on the Administration and what has been, up until this point, one party rule in Washington,..."
JTA's Ron Kampeas was stunned by the Cantor statement,
I can't remember an opposition leader telling a foreign leader, in a personal meeting, that he would side, as a policy, with that leader against the president. Certainly, in statements on one specific issue or another -- building in Jerusalem, or somesuch -- lawmakers have taken the sides of other nations. But to have-a-face to face and say, in general, we will take your side against the White House -- that sounds to me extraordinary.'Extraordinary' is one word.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
"Until Michael Jordan came along, no one better personified the coolness of ferocious competition"
I always said when watching Michael Jordan play that we were watching true greatness that our grandchildren would be talking about. We were watching Babe Ruth. And as great as Jordan was, he couldn't hold a candle to Gibby when it came to competitiveness.
It began, in the grand tradition of ill-considered ideas, with a group of boys and a bottle of booze—the most common of circumstances in the least common of places. The boys were gathered in their clubhouse—broken sofas, graffitied walls—near the end of the only road in the only village on the Pacific island of Atafu. Atafu is one of three atolls that make up the nation of Tokelau (which is not, technically, a nation but a territory of New Zealand). The total amount of land on Atafu is 1.4 square miles. Population: 524.
The nearest atoll, equally tiny, is fifty-seven miles to the south, well beyond the range of visibility. The closest significant land mass is Samoa, a twenty-eight-hour ferry ride away. There is no landing strip on Tokelau. There are also no dogs, prisons, lawyers, pavement, or soil—the land is mostly bits of broken coral. The highest elevation is fifteen feet. Coconuts and fish are the traditional diet, though the ferry, which comes once every two weeks, brings so much junk food these days that obesity and diabetes have become significant problems. From any point on Atafu's shoreline, nothing can be seen but water, all the way to the horizon.
Friday, May 20, 2011
Seriously, how does our side ever loose an election?
Sunday, May 15, 2011
David Frum wonders,
Can he believe that?I fear Frum over-estimates the politically incompetent Democrats ability to fight back.
If so, it’s disturbing to think that Republicans may have signed up for the fight of a generation, without understanding how much is at stake – or how fierce the resistance is likely to be from those who, yes, will feel the very real plain implied by cutting out of the deficit the “trillions” mentioned by Boehner in that same speech, without any of the tax offsets the speech explicitly ruled out.
Thursday, May 12, 2011
That leaves a lot of demand for a fire-breather, and it isn't being met. Rick Santorum or Herman Cain might catch fire, I suppose. But it sure looks wide open for Michelle Bachmann. If she can just keep a lid on her crazy side, she has enough high-profile support to avoid the kind of marginalization that Trump endured when the party elite ganged up on him. (Rush Limbaugh likes her, for instance.) Bachmann raises a ton of money, has a close relationship with Sarah Palin -- who still commands significant loyalty within the party but appears unlikely to run -- and has a real chance to win in Iowa.While Iowa leans blue, I've always been told the conservatives in Iowa tend to the right-wing, and based upon this information, I've always thought Bachmann has a real chance to win Iowa, and South Carolina too. I just don't see it in New Hampshire, although they have more than their share of crazies.
Saturday, May 07, 2011
The bounce President Obama received following the killing of Bin Laden won't last nearly as long as that enjoyed by George The Greater in 1991.
But what will last for Obama is the gravitas he gains from the successful mission. In making the daring decision (ask Jimmy Carter about the cost of a mission that ends in flames if you don't believe it was a daring decision) to send in commandos over bombing, Obama destroyed the favorite GOP narrative of him has a weak and indecisive leader on the world stage endlessly debating himself as the terrorist win.
In an instant Obama became a serious and decisive Commander-in-chief prepared to take bold moves to safeguard America. GOP candidates -- former Governors and Congressman -- will look small in comparison when issues of foreign policy are debated in the coming campaign.
And this is very significant. Since the cold war, the GOP has enjoyed success in presidential politics portraying Democrats as weak leaders not capable of protecting the American people. Republicans fare much worse when the nation is focused on domestic issues. If you don't agree with me, consider this: Since the Berlin Wall fell and the cold war ended, Republicans have only won one presidential election -- 2004 when George W. Bush won re-election by the smallest margin of any incumbent president in U.S. history (Gore received 543895 more votes than Bush in 2000).
If GOP contenders can't gain traction with voters painting Obama as a weak leader that endangers Americans, what do they have to talk about?
When the nation is focused on economic and domestic issues, Republicans have a much harder time. And Congressional Republicans haven't done their 2012 presidential hopefuls any favors making the elimination of Medicare to fund tax cuts for the wealthiest their central economic agenda.
Make no mistake, Obama is vulnerable and beatable in this economy, with high gas prices and high unemployment. But when the campaign is in full swing, Obama's popularity will be measured against his GOP opponents, and when you look at the election in those terms, you have to like Obama's odds.
Foreign Policy has an excellent photo essay on America's active duty canines. The Army alone has 2800. SEAL Team 6 had a dog with them on the Bin Laden raid.
"When you're going on a mission," Dowling says, "a raid or a patrol, insurgents are sneaky -- they like to hide stuff from you. But a dog can smell them. .... [Think about] Saddam Hussein ... what if Osama had been [hiding] in a hole in the ground? A dog could find that. A dog could alert them to where he's hiding because of the incredible scent capabilities. ... You can only see what you can see. You can't see what you don't see. A dog can see it through his nose."
When not sniffing out explosives or hiding insurgents, these dogs serve a secondary role. There is no better therapy to come down from an adrenalin rush after a nerve-wracking, heart-pounding mission, than to be greeted by a devoted dog.
And these dogs are very devoted.
When Private First Class Colton Rusk was shot after his unit came under Taliban sniper fire during a routine patrol in Afghanistan, Rusk's bomb-sniffing dog, Eli, crawled on top of his body, attacking anyone -- including Rusk's fellow Marines -- who tried to come near him. Rusk did not survive the assault, but Eli was granted early retirement so he could live with Rusk's family.
Friday, May 06, 2011
UPDATE: DeMint now claims he was mislead in 2007, and now knows of the horrors of the individual mandate.
Thursday, May 05, 2011
The profile the Navy uses in search of SEAL candidates might surprise you,
The profile is very specific. The men most likely to succeed as SEALs, according to a 2010 Gallup study commissioned by the Navy, are at least 5-foot-8 and 162 pounds, eschew Big Four sports for pastimes like water polo, snowboarding, and lacrosse, and hail from "New England, the northern Plains, or the West Coast." Their average age is 22 to 25.The men on the Bin Laden mission would have been in their 30s and even early 40s, as it takes years of training and proving yourself to advance to the elitist of the elite. It's an interesting article.
The arguments against were clear: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton consulted with allies in the Middle East and reported back that none thought the release of the photos would be in their interests. She and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates also worried that the images would provoke anti-American violence at embassies, consulates, and military bases overseas. The Muslim world might look askance at a desecrated dead body, even if it was Osama bin Laden's.This jibs with sense of the situation. Al Qaeda knows perfectly well he's dead so who are we trying to convince? Those arguing for the release of the photos seem to be offering a solution for a problem that does not exist. Nothing good would come from the releasing those photos.
Accounting for the morbid curiosity of human beings, there is little appetite, outside the media and some political elites, for the photos.
Reporters are obligated to ask, and even demand, as much information as possible. It is the job of responsible government to know when to say 'no'.