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Itching for Another World War

July 24, 2014


A hundred years ago: the shots that triggered a World War

A hundred years ago: the shots that triggered a World War

A hundred years ago this month, the Austro-Hungarian Empire began bombarding the capital of its diminutive archenemy, Serbia. The ancient Hapsburg regime, headed by the grandfatherly, impressively side-whiskered Emperor Franz Josef, had been looking for an excuse to pummel Serbia into submission, and the assassination of heir-apparent Franz Ferdinand by an impetuous young Serb was just the ticket. (The late archduke was widely disliked at home, but no matter.) Austria issued Serbia an ultimatum; the Serbs quibbled with a few of the terms, and that was enough to ignite the fireworks.

Austria’s bombardment of Belgrade set off a chain reaction that quickly spread throughout Europe and around the globe. Today we call the resulting conflagration World War I, and it wasn’t pretty even by the ugly standards of big-time warfare. The millions who died over the next four years couldn’t have cared less about Archduke Franz Ferdinand or the petty territorial squabbles of Balkan states, but their leaders apparently did. And so the bodies piled up. That’s the nature of classic warfare: rulers squabble, commoners die.

Fast-forward exactly a century, and it looks as if the world is itching for another cleansing round of mass bloodshed. How else to explain the tireless and infuriating tit-for-tat of hostilities between Israel and Hamas? Or the reckless brinksmanship of Russia’s involvement in Ukraine’s civil war? Or the wanton conquest of eastern Syria and northern Iraq by the eerily named militant Islamist group ISIS? (It’s as if the ancient goddess has returned to spread death and destruction across the Middle East and beyond.)

For now, let’s focus on Israel and its implacable adversaries. Both sides have been going at it with alarming gusto, and of course both sides claim to be victims. Hamas militants have been firing away at Israel mindlessly and persistently, like mosquitoes tormenting a sweaty horse, giving Israel a perfect excuse to fire back. Israel, no longer the plucky underdog of its early decades, has been spilling mostly-innocent Arab blood in the Gaza Strip, an Arab-occupied, Hamas-dominated patch of real estate the size of Philadelphia.

So who’s to blame? The obvious answer, at least from The New Moderate’s perspective, is both sides.

Hamas, like all Islamic terror groups, is guilty of refusing to accept the validity of Israeli statehood. What will it take for these Muslim militants to stop begrudging the Jewish people, dispersed and oppressed for nearly two thousand years, a New Jersey-sized slice of turf occupying roughly half their ancestral homeland, with a little extra desert thrown in for good measure? Where were the Jewish survivors of Nazi depredations supposed to establish a modern state for their people – Antarctica? The Jews earned their right to Israel through a combination of land purchases, grit and perseverance, and they’ve successfully defended it three times against staggering odds. The people we call Palestinians are simply Arabs who lived in an artificial state created from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire. After the establishment of Israel in 1948, they were free to stay put or find a new home within a vast Arab dominion that stretches from Morocco to the Iranian border. Israelis have only Israel. This much is certain: if terror groups like Hamas stopped putting Israel in their crosshairs, the bloodshed in the so-called Holy Land would stop tomorrow.

Hardly an existential threat to the Arab world: Israel (in red) barely registers on a map of the Arab world (in green)

Hardly an existential threat to the Arab world: Israel (red) barely registers on a map of Arabic-speaking nations (green)

And what about Israel, now widely vilified (especially on the multiculti left) as a world-class imperialist oppressor of indigenous peoples? First of all, Israel must plead guilty to creating a caste system that relegated its resident Arabs to second-class status. Yes, Israel was founded as a Jewish state, and you can’t blame Israel’s Jews for wanting to keep it that way. But Israel can be shockingly, almost gleefully ruthless in lashing back at its enemies; that ruthlessness has been amply displayed during the ongoing blockade and siege of Gaza. You’d think a civilized people who endured centuries of persecution at the hands of ethnic majorities would show a little more sensitivity toward the minorities in their midst – at least toward the civilians who suffer most from Israeli overkill. I’ll never forget the chilling words of an extremist rabbi who declared that “a million Arabs aren’t worth one Jewish fingernail.”

Ah, those irritating extremists – always ready to snatch war from the jaws of peace. For a while, back in the 1990s (which look increasingly like the world’s last relatively happy decade), Israel and the PLO were laying the groundwork for a permanent two-state solution. But then Hamas took the reins in Gaza and used that teeming hellhole as a staging ground for random rocket attacks on Israel. At the same time, arch-nationalist Israeli leaders like Sharon and Netanyahu emboldened Jewish settlers to plant themselves on West Bank real estate that Israeli moderates had set aside for a future Palestinian entity.

Israel doesn't exactly build good will by bombing civilian targets in Gaza

Israel doesn’t exactly build good will by bombing civilian targets in Gaza

Extremists are often entertaining to watch, and they have a happy knack for energizing the push and pull of ideological debates. They’re not entirely without their merits. But once they land in the driver’s seat, watch out: they become the everlasting bane of political life. For whatever reason (stubbornness, obtuseness, or the surefire sex appeal of defiant certainty), extremists simply refuse to examine any issue, even fleetingly, from the other guy’s perspective. Maybe they’re afraid they’ll see too many bewildering shades of gray. Or they’d lose their mojo, or their fringe-element street cred. After all, sensible moderates don’t attract legions of followers in our time; just ask Bob Dole or George Bush the Elder. We’d rather follow a leader who stirs the blood.

Extremists in positions of power have been stirring the blood for centuries, but they faded from view after World War II. Today the ghost of Robespierre must be hooting with joy at the spectacle of politically empowered fanatics spreading their poisons around the planet once again. There’s been nothing like it since the glory days of Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin.

Putin in Russia. ISIS in modern Mesopotamia. Boko Haram in West Africa. Mugabe in Zimbabwe. The Kim dynasty of North Korea. The Taliban. Al Qaeda. And of course, those ever-dependable feuding cousins in the land of Abraham, Jesus and Armageddon.

You have to wonder how much longer civilization can withstand such willful, widespread madness before something rips and we all go hurtling into another firestorm to rival the First World War. Fanatics love to court war. Tit for tat is their modus operandi, and each gesture escalates the hostilities like one of those precision-choreographed Laurel and Hardy altercations: an insult followed by a kick in the shin, followed by a squashed hat, followed by a pie in the face, followed by a well-aimed missile.

It used to be that leaders squabbled and commoners died; that was governing principle behind World War I a century ago, as it was for most warfare since the time of the pharaohs. With a minimum of persuasion, squabbling monarchs could depend upon the raging hormones of their young men to rouse the lust for battle.

But war today has gone populist. Tribalism is triumphant. Ordinary people, fanaticized by hateful and divisive rhetoric, would gladly murder their neighbors without any encouragement from the top. Arab or Jew, Sunni or Shiite, Russian or Ukrainian, and yes, Republican or Democrat – they answer now to the primal human need for creating a common enemy, and they itch collectively for combat.


Rick Bayan is founder-editor of The New Moderate.

417 Comments leave one →
  1. July 24, 2014 7:17 am

    As you imply, it is within our human nature to either kill each other or self destruct. Specifically, on Israel and Hamas, there is no solution. Israel cannot accept a Palestinian state in the West Bank unless it is 100 percent de militarized. Who will enforce that – like Germany and the Rhineland before WW2. Gaza is OMG, there is no description for Gaza except for 2 million people ready to take over Israel.

    As a history fanatic, Russia actually was the instigator of WW1. If they hadn’t mobilized in support of Serbia and they had no treaty reason to do that. Austria Hungary had every right to demand action from Serbia. Since Serbian intelligence masterminded the assassination. Germany got unfairly blamed by the victors for waging “aggressive war” and the Allies turned themselves into the victims. France wanted Alsace Lorraine back, sooner or later.

    • July 25, 2014 5:28 pm

      Mark: Interesting comments. I tend to agree with you about Israel and Hamas: no solution in sight. It would require more compromises than either side is willing to make.

      As for World War I, yes, Russia encouraged the pan-Slavic movement that was brewing in the Balkans and Eastern Europe. I’d have to do some more reading, but I thought Gavrilo Princip acted on his own (even though he belonged to the Serbian underground movement). So I thought Austria overreacted by blaming an entire country for the actions of a college student.

      • July 25, 2014 5:36 pm

        the 6 assassins were sponsored by a Colonel in Serbian Military intelligence. I joke at work that Israel must be moved to Australia, the only long term solution. I spent a lot of time in Israel, Egypt, Turkey, and UAE, the emotions rule.

  2. July 24, 2014 8:04 am

    Nicely done, if not a bit simplistic (sorry buddy). I would draw this one distinction. I really don’t think any normal citizen in most countries is “itching” for a WW. I believe these long-term feuds are localized and as you have pointed out, some have been going on for a centuries (can we doubt that large swaths of Islam is hell bent on subjugating others to worship “allah?”

    That is one fine “religion” I tell you.

    That said, the so-called leaders of many of these countries do seem to be itching for a fight. Putin? I actually don’t think he wants to fight, just provoke others. The US? Certain members of Congress (McCain is insane on this issue) want a fight., always.

    The US State Dept has seemed to do everything it can to de-stabilize any situation while at the same time, sending that asshole Kerry all over in the name of peace. It is clear to me that in a world at peace, “diplomats” have little to do and are not highly valued. When tensions are high, they get to fly all over and give news conferences. Twits.

    Such hypocrisy. It is widely known that this administration supports upset, war, and in many cases, terror, as long as the terror is directed at the “right target.” It is also ironic that as the POTUS openly supports Muslim terror, he also uses drones to kill Muslim terrorists and no one says a world in the media about this.

    Oh, and how can forget the UN, those worthless twerps in NYC. Why are they there, exactly?

    I could go on but the point is that it is the so-called leadership of many countries that want war, not the poor souls who pay the price. When wars break out, the “important people” get to play their parts and are in their glory.

    Oh, and for the record, I would side with Israel every day of the week when it comes to Hamas and Gaza. Hamas, ISIS, the Muslim Brotherhood, they are all part of the same network and they would take out Israel in a heartbeat and dance on the grave sites.

    • July 25, 2014 6:12 pm

      JB: ISIS is probably the only group that would openly court a new world war, and of course they’re insane. As you pointed out, the other squabbles are mostly local. (But the squabble between Austria and Serbia seemed local, too, and look what happened.) I probably overdramatized the world war angle because of all the unrest breaking out just in time for the 100th anniversary of WW1. It seemed eerie.

      • July 25, 2014 7:44 pm

        the difference is at WW1 era Every country was tied together by Treaty, except the UK. Russia attacks AH then Germany had to defend AH. It was crazy. Bismarck did a great job on keeping the peace but it fell apart.

    • July 26, 2014 3:50 pm

      The Muslim Brotherhood had very strong ties to the Nazi’s
      Much of the fighting in Boznia/Serbia was old grudges such as those dating to the Muslim Brotherhood SS units rampaging through the region. They were among the most vicious of SS divisions.

  3. July 24, 2014 10:03 am

    Rick, Great to see The New Moderate re-charged with vigorous and often informative commentary. I understand your viewpoint on the alarming geopolitical standing of Israel in the Middle East and Northern Africa (gosh that map reminds me of the the red/blue distribution of political affiliation in the US). One can sympathize with Israel’s obsession to stridently arm itself, ( I read that Israel is the fifth or sixth most powerfully militarized nation on the globe), but it’s also a nuclear power (200+ warheads) which is and has been largely financed by the US, as well as cybertechnology for surveillance and warfare. With nuclear pre-eminence in the region, Israel poses a very real threat to the Middle East and ultimately to Europe and the Far East. Israel’s longstanding goal is to expand its sovereignty through Palestine, and possibly to parts of Jordan and Lebanon, in effect, to create a Greater Israel. And it portrays a belligerent foreign policy that dispenses with any constructive diplomacy that could lead to a lasting peace.

    In regard to sincere diplomacy, I commend Russia’s Putin for his sane, inclusive efforts to offset US intentions to bomb Syria’s Assad into compliance, and his restraint from intensifying the Separatist-Ukrainian nonsense into regional all-out warfare with Russian military presence. His tactic is to hope for a truce in the saddening Ukraine crisis, and a federalization of Ukraine into separate self-governing districts which could align politically with the EU and NATO and/or with the Russian Federation. But I don’t believe this serves the interests of the US/EU which expects Ukraine to join the EU and be subject to the ravaging of what remains of the Ukraine’s economy.

    • July 25, 2014 6:18 pm

      Andy: I’m guessing that the only reason Israel would want to expand its boundaries would be to flush terrorists from those areas. (Of course, then the terrorists would simply resettle outside the new boundaries.) I don’t think Israel has any territorial ambitions for greater “lebensraum.”

  4. July 24, 2014 10:53 am

    I do not know how you can equate the two sides in the Israel vs. Hamas fight. How are Arabs in Israel “second-class”? They participate in the Parliament and even the High Court has had Arab members. There is freedom of religion — each religion runs its own affairs without interference — and Arabic is an official language as well as Hebrew. There are only two ways in which the law favors Jews: automatic citizenship for all Jews (which I do not see how this affects Arabs who were already there in 1948, and which is a logical consequence of Israel’s status as a refuge for Jews who are elsewhere persecuted), and the fact that Arabs do not serve in the Israeli army, which in the current situation, seems logical as there is reason to doubt their loyalty. What would you have the Israeli side do to erase their share of the blame?

    • July 24, 2014 11:05 am

      Well said Bruce and dead on.

      Hamas are terrorists, pure and simple. Sadly, the left has decided they are the oppressed and you know how the left love that.

    • July 24, 2014 2:44 pm


      Why does Israel feel it has to lay claim to the Palestine peninsula through continued settlements, the so called Occupied Territories. Where are the Palestinians supposed to go? maybe emigrate to the US? Israel has resumed hostilities in Gaza because it’s trying to totally disarm Hamas. Problem is that Hamas confiscates residential areas to house their defense weaponry and communications network. The IDF is forced to attack these areas to destroy Hamas’ armaments. Civilian casualties are largely unavoidable in this unfortunate scenario. It is quite sad that the notion of “ethnic cleansing” has arisen from various quarters and I’d hope this isn’t the intent of the Israeli military strategy.

      • July 24, 2014 2:50 pm

        Why do you consider “Palestinians” as a distinct people? They never considered themselves as such prior to 1948; they were Syrians or the like. So the answer to “Where are the Palestinians supposed to go?” is “There is no such thing as a Palestinian. If you mean ‘Where are the Arabs of former “Palestine” to go?’ I say any of the other countries Rick colored green on that map.”

      • July 24, 2014 2:56 pm

        So, what is Israel to do? Should they simply be content to have rockets fired into their cities, their children abducted and killed, their school bus and shops blown up by suicide bombers? Or, should they just capitulate and move out of Dodge?

    • July 25, 2014 6:26 pm

      Bruce: It surprised me to learn that Israeli Arabs are now included in the government. (I checked, and you’re right.) Yes, Arabs are theoretically equal, as are American blacks, but from what I’ve read there’s still subtle prejudice against them, and the communities seem to be separated by a kind of de facto segregation. And of course the Arabs in the occupied territories have even lesser status. I sympathize with the original Zionist goal of a state with a Jewish identity, just as France has a French identity and Denmark has a Danish identity. Shifting demographics could change all that.

      • July 25, 2014 7:42 pm

        I have not been to Israel in a long time and yes Israeli Arabs are equal and vote and get elected to the Knesset and in reality living separate lives. But you can almost say that about blacks and whites in the USA from what I see.

      • July 25, 2014 8:56 pm

        I don’t understand the black vs white argument in the US.


      • July 26, 2014 12:57 am

        Surely there is prejudice against Arabs in Israel; there is even prejudice within the Jewish community — Jews of European origin disdain those of Middle Eastern origin. But there is prejudice in the USA too, and not just white/black. Some of it is even institutionalized. All Christians get their major religious holiday (Christmas) as a legal holiday, and most get the day off from work automatically. When was working, I got Christmas off, even though I would have gladly worked that day, as it meant nothing to me, but taking one of my own religious holidays off would have required me to use up a vacation day. The prejudice against non-Christians is real, and even some branches of Christianity see it — I remember in 2012, talking to a woman who would not vote for Mitt Romney because of his Mormon faith, though politically she was much closer to him than to Barack Obama. So are you saying that Israel should outdo the USA is conquering prejudice among its people? That’s an awfully large demand. So I wonder if you still want to place blame on both sides for Israel’s fight with Hamas?

      • July 26, 2014 8:20 am

        Ah, the prejudice conversation. Gee, I am sorry that you had to take Christmas day off. That is pretty terrible indeed. I recommend therapy to help you get over that trauma.

        Seriously, there are preferences and choices (I won’t vote for him, he is a Mormon). Fine, we are human and we make funny decisions. That is our right, as humans. to be flawed. I hate football and don’t watch it. Sue me. I am fine about Mormons and did vote for Mitt. I would do it again.

        That said, when we see ISIS give Christians a “choice” to convert, pay a tax, leave or be killed, I think we have moved into a certain level of bad behavior that trumps having to take a day off on Christmas.

        I think you would call this a matter of degree?

    • July 26, 2014 4:09 pm

      IT looks increasingly like any settlement of the Palestinian issue is going to require unilateral action by the Israeli’s.

      There are real possibilities there. While a negotiated settlement would be prefered.
      Unlateral action risks having a hostile group inside or outside your borders.

      But Israel has atleast two unilateral options.

      1). unilaterally define its own borders as it wishes and release the palestinian teritories completely.

      There are lots of negatives to that. But immagine that Israel had done so in 1998 or 1979.
      Would we now be passed whatever mess that might have caused ?

      Are european nations that have looked unfavorably on Israel going to do more than rant for a year or two if Israel defines unilaterally borders they are unhappy with ?

      So what if Israel ends up next to an armed Palestine ?
      Whether the Palestinians recognize Israel or not, the rest of the world would expect them to focus on the needs of their own people, not settling grudges with Israel.

      The rocket attacks by Hamas would be viewed as acts of war. If necesccary Israel could do as it currently is, and repeatedly invade until the Palestinians figured out how to accept reality and live in peace.

      2). Annex the West Bank and Gaza. Grant palestinians citizenship in Israel, become a single country. That was rejected in the past because it was assumed that Palestinian birth rates would result in an eventual majority palestinian country.
      That has proven false.

      A single nation of Palestinians and Jews needs not fight about borders. Settlements become a matter of land use and land rights and purely an internal matter.

      There are lots of negative associated with either approach.
      Neither is a panacea.

      But I think either is superior to repeating the mess of the moment in 2024, 2034, ….

      Is there anyone who beleives that so long as the palestinians have any choice in the matter that they are going to get their own act together?

      It is my guess that at the moment the Palestinians see what has happened in Libya, Egypt, Iraq, Syria and think that somehow they can duplicate the success of those insurgent groups.

      They fail to perceive that they are up against a very powerful modern pluralistic state that has the broad support of its people, not an unstable dictatorship.

      Nothing would likely serve Israel better than an actual violent uprising.
      Separating the actually violent and killing or capturing them from the majority of the Palestinian population, once again sending the message that violence only begets violence.

    • Swami permalink
      August 3, 2014 12:24 pm

      The Israeli force deployed against Hamas actually includes non-Jews in significant positions. The commander of the Golani Brigade is a Druze, which is a spin-off of Shi’ism.

      • August 3, 2014 4:09 pm

        Swami, I didn’t know that specifically. but I did know that the Druze were an exception to the general rule that Arabs aren’t in the Israeli army.

  5. Ron P permalink
    July 24, 2014 3:46 pm

    JB, “So what is Israel to do?” Exactly what they are doing. Hamas was elected in 2006 to govern Gaza and most anyone knew that Hamas was an extremist party when they were elected. You get what you ask for!

    There is only one way to win a war. That is a full scale offensive to neutralize the enemy. If you want to play nice and surgically bomb your enemy, then they will live another day to attack you in the future. That is why the tunnels are there and that is why the missiles are there.

    I feel bad that there are Palestinian children dying in bomb attacks, but is one Palestinian childs life worth more than a Jewish childs life that may die from missile attacks that are occurring daily? When the arabs decide that the jews are there to stay and decide that they can live in peace, then peace will happen. If they don’t then the will continue to die at the hands of a stronger military.

    My only desire would be for those that think Israel is wrong in what they are doing to live in Israel or any other country and have their location a target for hundreds of missiles fired at them or have one of their sons murdered at the hands of extremist in there country. Then lets see what their reaction would be,

    • July 24, 2014 3:57 pm

      Well said, Ron. If the Arabs are concerned about their women and children, perhaps they should store munitions in their homes and use them as human shields?

    • July 25, 2014 6:29 pm

      Ron: I totally agree with you… good, well-reasoned comments.

  6. July 24, 2014 3:51 pm

    The ancient descendants of the Jews and Arabs occupied the same portion of land more or less as they do now. The state of Israel created in 1948 is supposed to be an open and sovereign sanctuary for Jews dispersed throughout the world. I believe much of the hostilities between these two cultures have religious underpinnings. Judaism and Islam both espouse strict conformity to their forms and displays of worship, and are mutually exclusive of any commonality of tradition or practices. This have evolved into a deepening intolerance of each other’s culture and societies. Israel has become the clear oppressor over the last several decades with the containment and harsh deprivations it has foisted upon the Palestinians. 1.2 million Palestinians against a modern nuclear nation of how many? Hamas has a force of 43,000 defenders; Israel has 200+ nuclear warheads and the ability to blackmail Palestine any time it wishes. We talking apples and oranges here? So you ask, “what is Israel to do?” With the financial and military support of the US over the last almost 70 years, the answer is “not much”

    • July 24, 2014 4:01 pm

      You speak nonsense here Andy. Clearly, Hamas is a terrorist organization, not an army. That is not my opinion, but that of the State Dept.

      Clearly, it is Hama that tosses bombs endlessly at Israel. That is a fact, not fiction.

      Clearly, Hamas uses civilians to shield their terrorist activities and most clearly, it is Hamas that has said that it is devoted to the destruction of the state of Israel. All the rest is simply liberal handwringing.

      Move to Israel for a bit and send us back a report.

      • July 26, 2014 4:13 pm

        While I agree with you. I am not sure it matters.
        Hamas has zero intention of accepting Israel’s existance.

        What is the difference between their threat to Israel as an army or as a terrorist group ? What is the difference between defeating them as an army or as a terrorist group ?

        Hamas must accept peace with Israel or be destroyed, regardless how they are labeled.

    • July 24, 2014 6:15 pm

      Hamas does not want to stop fighting, that is very clear. They see world opinion moving to their favor, so they could care less how many civilians are killed in the process. The more dead, the more they paint Israel as the bad guys.

      The world press is helping along, especially the BBC, which is basically working for Hamas at this point.

      • Priscilla permalink
        July 24, 2014 11:12 pm

        Yes, exactly, JB. Let’s face it. If this were a straight-up war, Israel would simply blow the living shit out of Gaza and declare victory. There is simply no question that the Palestinians have nothing to gain from a “real war” fought by “war rules” (scare quotes intentional).

        The whole idea that Israel should have to follow rules of engagement while fighting an enemy that blows up school buses, shopping malls and outdoor cafes is a joke. Hamas wears no uniform, and recognizes no Geneva Accords. These people – and I use the term loosely – are not warriors, they are terrorists, elected in Gaza by desperate people who have been marinated and baked in Jew-hatred ….people who live lives of incredible poverty and suffering, as their terrorist overlords rake in billions while using the poor dupes who elected them as human shields.

    • Roby L permalink
      July 25, 2014 10:10 am

      JB do you realize that you have gone so far to the right on the Ukraine issue that you have reached the zone of the far left rhetoric, as represented here by Andy Tonti? (though not obviously regarding Israeli politics).

      • July 25, 2014 10:19 am

        I don’t see this as a right or left issue. The record is clear on the US involvement in Ukraine. Moreover, it has not stopped. I am NOT defending Putin in any way. That said, I don’t trust our state dept. anymore than I trust Putin. If he did everything that he is accused of, he wouldn’t have time to go to the head.

        They are all cut from the same cloth, lying and angling for whatever the hell motivates them.

        I really want a POTUS who understands the need to have a foreign policy that is clear and direct, one that we normal humans can actually understand.

        I know they have the “big brains” and all, but I say, hogwash to that. How hard can this be?

      • July 26, 2014 4:15 pm

        JB is starting to sound like a uh, um, uh ….. Libertarian.

      • July 26, 2014 4:38 pm

        I live most comfortably in that domain. That said, not all the time.

        Did you catch PJ O’Rourke’s piece the other on libertarians. It was hilarious.

      • Ron P permalink
        July 26, 2014 11:09 pm

        asmith..JB is only beginning to sound like a Libertarian to you based on this one issue. There are many things that conservative differ with Libertarians, so JB is far from a Libertarian.

      • July 27, 2014 8:23 am

        sounds like we need another new posting Libertarian, Liberal, Conservative, et al. Who and what are they/we.

      • Ron P permalink
        July 27, 2014 12:19 pm

        Mark, ow about a simplkistic definition:

        Liberals want government to have limited authority over your private life and behavior. Liberals want government to have more authority over peoples’ wealth and earnings and more regulation of businesses.

        Conservatives want government to have more authority over morality and more regulation of your behavior. Conservatives want government to have less authority over peoples’ financial matters and prefer less regulation of business.

        Libertarians believe that government should have limited authority over your private life and behavior and limited government authority over peoples’ financial matters and prefer less regulation of business.

        When you read the definition of a Libertarian, you will find that personal issues like abortion is a personal decision and not one to be infringed upon by the governmment. That is why those that call Rand Paul a Libertarian are wrong. Rand Paul is nothing but another conservative Republican, but with differing views from main stream GOPer’s on the Patriot Act, same sex marriages and a few other issues supported by the right. He is much the same as Christie as they both have a different view on what government should involve. Only Paul is on the conservative side of issues and Christie is on the more liberal side of issues, but both part of the Republican Party.

        And with JB’s views on abortion that he has mentioned many times and he and I have debated many times, he follows more closely the Rand Paul line of the party.

      • July 27, 2014 1:12 pm

        Here is some exceptions and I think there will be more. Liberals want to control behavior just as much as any other “philosophy” we have.

        For example: Liberals want to make you buy health insurance and tell you what coverage you MUST buy. If you don’t buy it, liberals are fine about penalizing you. They will also call you names (racists, homophobe, xenophobe) if you disagree with their choices for you.

        Liberals want to smoke dope but don’t want you to buy a “big gulp” with sugar in it.
        Liberals want control guns and they want to control what kind of car you drive, energy you use and how much of it. Liberals want to control “fast food” joints, and to raise wages of those who work there, even if they themselves won’t go there.

        Liberals eat only salads apparently.

        Liberals drink wine, not beer. Beer is for rednecks, unless it is made at a brewpub, then liberals like beer. Liberals are foodies and proud of it.

        Liberals don’t like capital punishment and assume the justice system is biased against any out group as they define it. Liberals don’t like religion and think it is a silly form of behavior for any rational human being. Liberals like science, unless science tells us that GM foods are OK. Then, liberals bash science.

        Liberals believe that other groups are selfish, liberals are never selfish. Some liberals were in the peace corp., some only talked about it warmly.

        Liberals drive hybrids and often heat their swimming pools. Liberals see no issue here.

        Liberals believe in affirmative action and reparations, as long as everyone pays. Liberals think illegal aliens have “rights” to citizenship because they are here or their relatives are.

        Liberals believe in diversity, as long as their own schools are fine and dandy and all are included, except of course, conservatives.

        Liberals see capitalism as inherently evil but have figured out that no other system seems to produce an economy worth having. Liberals like a free press, as along as they dominate it.

        Liberals like abortion (sorry choice) and they see the fetus as woman’s body part, kind of like a kidney or even less, a gall bladder.

        Liberals love women, unless they are conservative. Then, liberals attack women as much as any man. Liberals also love Islam, and understand that ISIS is just a few bad apples.

        Liberals love the common man, as long as they live in Iowa and can be flown over. Liberals are for equality, as long as their children can go to Harvard of Penn. Perhaps Amherst College first and then on to the Ivy.

        And lastly, Liberals hate George W Bush and pretend to think Barak Obama is the bomb.

        Shall I go on?

        Please tell me if I am wrong.

      • July 27, 2014 3:03 pm

        I agree that many progressives are unaware that their behavior is exactly the same as the people they criticize and they don’t perceive it within themselves. The progressives believe they are more logical, rational, and intellectual.

      • July 27, 2014 3:05 pm

        Another very interesting character is Ralph Nader. A mixture of liberal and libertarian. Like me.

    • Roby L permalink
      July 25, 2014 10:26 am

      Great, 200 nukes, useful in dissuading Iran from doing anything stupid, not much use in Gaza, eh? Basically nuclear weapons are irrelevant in Gaza. I have some sympathy with the plight of the ordinary Palestinians, and see faults with some Israel policies, (no I do not believe that 1.2 million people can just move somewhere else) but really, what are they supposed to do about Hamas and the rockets. They have one choice only and they are taking it. Its not a black and white situation but in the end you have to support one side more than the other, at least as far as the actual war phase goes. A truce would be great but where are the grounds for a lasting peace? This will go on for 100 years.

  7. July 24, 2014 4:03 pm

    PS-I have never seen a Jewish organization commit the daily atrocities committed daily in the name of “allah.” Perhaps if that crap stopped, the “religion” would have some credibility. As it stand now, it does not.

    • July 26, 2014 4:18 pm

      Look up the Irgun, and The King David Hotel bombing and the Deir Yassin massacre

  8. July 24, 2014 8:21 pm

    Just wondering if you have ever read the book “Generations” by Strauss & Howe. According to them, we should be coming up on another major conflict in the next 10-15 years. Seems we are right on schedule.

  9. July 24, 2014 9:13 pm

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  10. Anonymous permalink
    July 25, 2014 12:03 am

    So it appears that no one has responded or even alluded to the reality that israel holds 200+nuclear warheads. Nuclear!! yes it can be considered as just another justification for israel’s self-defense, but an accidental or provoked response at this level would do major harm to the entire region, and then out to the Far East. Would the US be comfortable with a Cuba with nuclear capability?

    I so agree that Hamas is a terrorist group that takes advantage of the extremely crowded conditions in gaza to disguise their weaponry. But israel has amassed a superiir military advantage and, if you’ve ever seen the carnage and destruction wreaked on Gaza, you might temper your outrage at all the rockets fires at israel, which lack sufficient range and power to produce any serious damage

    • July 25, 2014 5:58 am

      Who is Israel going to “accidentally” nuke ?

      Does anyone really expect the Israeli’s to Nuke Gaza ?

      The number of nuclear powers in the world has slowly and steadily been increasing since Los Almos.

      Yet 70 years after Trinity nuclear weapons have only been used twice in anger – both times by the US. No other nation has ever used a nuclear weapon against an enemy.

      The Pakistani’s and Indians have had Nukes for decades, border skirmishes there periodically flare into small hot wars. Yet neither side has resorted to Nukes.

      Nuclear North Korea scares the crap out of me – yet in the more than a decade they have had nukes they have never used them.

      Nuclear Iran is not a particularly warm thought. But what reason do we have to beleive Iran would be the first nation since Nagasaki to use nukes ?

    • July 25, 2014 6:05 am

      Hamas rockets have resulted in several Israeli deaths.
      They disrupt life, and the economy.
      There are an enormous number of rockets in Gaza – though most are as you note crude and with limited range, a few have been launched with sufficient range to strike most of Israel.

      There is no rule of proportionality in the defense of a state.

      The security of the citizens within a state is one of the few universally agreed on legitimate roles of a state. Any state that can not protect its citizens from external violence will not last long.

      The Gaza Death toll is now about 800 – out of 2million.
      Civilian Causlties from the recent ISIS adventures in Iraq are about 6000 and rising.
      ISIS is threatening to behead christians in Mosul who do not convert to Islam.
      Fortunately there are few christians left in Mosul – or any other Arab nations.

      • July 25, 2014 8:04 am

        Hey, you are not permitted to criticize ISIS, as they are muslims and that is not permitted since BHO took office. Remember, in spite of the number of simply barbaric acts of muslim terrorists all over the globe, the media continues to support the notion that islam is a religion of peace.

        Right. Those muslims rioting in Paris and London calling for death to the Jews are a fine example of a “religion in practice.”

        So, please temper your comments about islam, as the hate speech police are always watching.

    • July 25, 2014 7:53 am

      The current missiles hurled at the Israelis may not wreak mass carnage (yet) but they kill and main. Given that Hamas has openly declared the end of the Jewish state is their goal, why all this hand wringing when Bibi moves in to disarm those who murder his citizens?

      Isn’t that his top job?

    • Priscilla permalink
      July 25, 2014 8:57 am

      The fact that Israel has possessed nukes all of this time and has NOT used them should be your answer, Anon. It is difficult to imagine a more provocative enemy than one who attacks your civilians indiscriminately, teaches its children that you are a race of apes and pigs, and openly calls for your total destruction (not defeat, mind you, destruction).

      If and when that destruction is complete, who do you think will be next?

  11. mortye permalink
    July 25, 2014 12:18 am

    What about the West’s involvement in creating the mess in Ukraine?

    • July 25, 2014 6:18 am

      The US state department actively encouraged the overthrow of the previous Ukrainian government, which has destablized the country.

      The prior government was pro-russian. The majority of Ukrainians are not. But some regions of Ukraine are either heavily russian or heavily pro russian.
      Those are the areas where there is conflict now.

      The US governments history of ineptitude in foreign affairs is beyond beleif.

      Our efforts to pick winners, install friendly governments, our complicity in assassinations and coups has wreaked havoc in nations across the world

      We would be wise to read and reread George Washington’s advice in his Farewell address.

      We do not know what we are doing in the internal affairs of other nations.
      We can publicly excoriate whatever bad behavior we wish, but everything from our foreign aide through our intrigues has been nearly universally destructive.

      The Ugly american was written more than 50 years ago, was non-fiction thinly disguised as fiction, but the story has not changed.

      • July 25, 2014 8:08 am

        I agree completely. One wonders how these “diplomats” and “intelligence officers” keep their jobs. Not 8 hours after the airliners was shot down, these ass clowns in “US intelligence” declared that it was shot down by a Russian missile. How exactly, did they figure this out I might ask?

        These of course, were the same ass clowns that told us that Benghazi was a result of angry muslims gone crazy over a US video.

        Seriously, do these people have no shame? Innocents die all over the world as these knot heads hop on another plane to another “state” dinner and terribly important

        It is all utter and complete bullshit.

      • July 25, 2014 5:37 pm

        I do agree that since there is NO accountability the intelligence geniuses keep their jobs and so do the State Department hacks. Hillary is a genius for retiring last year. Her most brilliant move ever.

      • July 26, 2014 4:43 pm

        My guess is that the fact that it was 6.5miles up when it was shot down was a big clue. This was done by a fairly sophisticated anti-aircraft missle not a stinger or some other man portable low skills unit.
        This missle came from a nation with a very capable military industrial complex. There are only a handful of countries producing weapons that can shoot down airliners at 33K ft. This was not some Hamas missle.

        A barely asked question is who was operating it ?

        Historically when Russia has provided weapons such as these they also provide trained soldiers to operate them. In vietnam and Korea US forces often found themselves facing Russian pilots or SAM operators.

        While not impossible, it is unlikely that Russia provided a weapon system like this and a manual to the insurgents and said – have fun.

        The probability is that this was done by a russian weapon operated by russian soldiers.

  12. July 25, 2014 5:33 am

    Adding my own .02 to the Israel/Palestinian tirade.

    Israel’s formation is tainted by its own acts of terrorism.

    There are 1.6m Arabs within Israel – i.e. not Gaza/West Bank.
    They have been there since before 1948, there are currently 12 Arab members of the Knesset.

    Israel has multiple unilateral options for dealing with West Bank and Gaza that become increasingly feasible the more recalcitrant the Palestinians are.

    Israel has contemplated unilaterally declaring a two state solution. The reasons for negotiating with the Palestinians are future peace and relations with the rest of the world.

    It is unlikely that any other nations of the world will do more than mild political ranting for a few years should Israel disgorge itself of the West Bank and Gaza using borders of its own choosing and essentially tell the Palestinians they are on their own.

    Alternately the option of a single state incorporating Gaza and the West Bank is becoming increasingly plausible. That was not contemplated for a long time because the higher birth rate of Palestinians would purportedly eventually lead to their political dominance.
    Arabs within Israel including Gaza and the West Bank are outnumbered by Jews by almost a million and Arab birth rates have fallen while Jewish birth rates have risen. An Arab majority is no longer likely.

    While neither of these “solutions” are perfect, either may prove better for Israeli Jews than the status quo.

    Israel has made innumerable mistakes in its handling of Palestinians, but these pale in comparision to those of the Palestinians. Palestinians actually supported Sadam Husseins invasion of Kuwait.
    Ultimately it is not possible for a state to contain a large violent group such as the Palestinians without making mistakes.

    I do not expect the Israelis to unilaterali impose either a two state or one state solution,
    but the possiblity increases with increased Palestinian violence.

    The current insurection in Gaza is insane. Gaza is an economic disaster only made worse everytime active fighting resumes. In the current conflict Israel has garnered quite support from most of Europe. Even Egypt is quietly siding with Israel in the current conflict.

  13. July 25, 2014 5:49 am

    Violence anywhere is to be decried and ethnic and sectarian violence – particularly in the mideast and northern Africa has significantly increased since the collapse of the USSR.

    But worldwide violence is and has been declining for a long time. The 21st century is on average half as violent as the 20th. Despite what we read on the news not only is overall violence about half that of the 20th century but in each catagory, rape, war, murder, family violence racism – rates of violence worldwide are half of the 20th century.

    Real War much less world war is unlikely, possibly even impossible.
    Conflicts such as Russian beligerance within some states in the former USSR will likely continue – though Russia is paying an incredibly high economic price.

    Politicians fixate on sanctions, but long before politicians can determine those things businesses have already withdrawn enormous amounts of capitol and Russia is likely in recession already. Despite decades of solid growth since the Fall of the USSR and barely hiccupping in the 2008 global recession.

    Fewer people do business with belligerent nations.

    The world our children will inherit from us will be fraught with risk and danger, far from perfect, but in most every way it will be a better world than our parents left to us.

    • July 25, 2014 7:59 am

      War will always be with us, in some form, as it is good business. It keeps the diplomats in business and they in turn, make sure, conflicts continue (Ukraine being a great example).
      This in turn, keeps generals busy and the armaments business in full vigor.

      We poor stoops pay the bill and provide the (mostly) young men to go off and die. This wil change, however, as the Feminazi’s insist that women must also die in similar numbers to their male fellow soldiers.

      Gee, what could be wrong with this? We are on our way to social justice, no?

      • July 26, 2014 5:05 pm

        While I do nto think we are through with war yet, we are getting there.

        After Iraq and Afghanistan what is it going to take to commit serious US ground forces anywhere. I am not saying that is impossible, just highly unlikely.

        We are moving slowly towards a more libertarian foreign policy.
        We will resist actual acts of war against ourselves and our alies,
        but we will fight internal conflicts with rhetoric and maybe by providing weapons.

        I expect over time, we will see less and less weapons.

        Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, …. are complete messes.

        But it is increasingly obvious that we have no clue how to fix them.

        Russia is less civilized – though it is learning. Putin had a growing economy until he started meddling in Ukraine. Forget sanctions, nearly 100B in foreign investment has fled Russia. No one want to invest in a war zone.
        Russia is now teetering on recession – if not already in one.

        I am pressed to see what they may have gained that was worth that.

        Where do you see a hot war that draws us or any other developed nations in erupting in the future ?

        The mideast may prove unstable for many years. One group of Muslims killing each other.

        We can watch and cry, but we can not fix what they must do for themselves.

        When have we successfully transformed tyrants to democracy through force of arms ?

        We have meddled in other nations for decades seeking to install favorable governments. We have tried myriads of means, invasion, war assasination, coups, …. I can not think of any long term success.

        Nations must bring freedom to themselves, it can not be imposed.
        Intervention just threatens to draw us in to conflicts that are not ours.

        Look at Iraq and Afghanistan. No matter how noble you may think our efforts, there are graves of our soldiers throughout the country, and nothing to show. WE have the maimed at a VA that could careless.
        For what were they killed and injured ?

        Beyond our own we have killed hundreds of thousands. For what did they die ?

        Osama Bin Laden wanted only one thing from the US – he wanted our military out of muslim nations. He may be sleeping with the fishes, but we are leaving.

  14. July 25, 2014 7:50 am

    I love women from NJ. No BS, just straight up solid thinking. We agree totally, Ms. Priscilla.

    • Priscilla permalink
      July 25, 2014 9:33 am

      Thanks, JB.

      (correcting myself….I meant to say Geneva Conventions, not Accords).

      Throughout history, the terms of war have been set by the aggressors, and the only way to peace has been victory over them. The Palestinians have never accepted a diplomatic end to hostilities or surrendered to Israel. They simply continue to be the aggressors and wait for Iran to finish the job when that time comes.

      I am at a loss to understand why some people don’t see that.

      • July 25, 2014 10:15 am

        The progressives have a way of seeing what they want to see. I think this is called blindness.

  15. July 25, 2014 8:58 am

    I agree with your comment on our foreign diplomacy (policy) (if it can be called that), jbas. Remember that our foreign diplomats are basically mouthpieces for whatever regurgitant drops out of the White House and State Dept. The remain fairly much consistent with the Washington Consensus, which is to mislead by misinforming the public about our real reasons, which are wiping out democracy in the Ukraine, and replacing it with a fascistic and autocratic government to be absorbed by the EU as another hollowed out vassal.

    • Roby L permalink
      July 25, 2014 9:31 am

      Ah, who says left and right can’t find common ground? Every culture, religion subculture, country, or person are free to live in their own version of reality and these days that is more true every day.

      I have yet to see any plausible explanation of why it was ever in US interests to overthrow Yanukovych in some alleged clandestine operation. This situation is the result of a clumsy courtship between Ukraine and two suitors both of whom seem to have been oblivious to the cards the other held. The US came in much later, when Russian actions became incompatible with any kind of democratic values.

      The idea that we are “wiping out democracy in the Ukraine, and replacing it with a fascistic and autocratic government to be absorbed by the EU as another hollowed out vassal” is quite a piece of writing and I am sure would be approved by the same propaganda machine that has been putting out the idea that the MH-17 was full of dead bodies and the masked men in Crimea with the latest Russian equipment were irregular civilian volunteers. Its one thing that an entire culture has to swallow the nonsense of Putin’s propaganda, but for someone presumably from the western world it really takes, excuse my French, oh, well, I can’t say it. Lets just say that your tinfoil hat is a bit tight Mr. Tonti.

      • July 25, 2014 10:14 am

        I will push back on you a bit here. It is quite clear from the recording released by the BBC that our “diplomats” were involved directly in the overthrow of Ukraine’s President. They openly discussed who they would like to replace him with, and the leading candidates were those who were EU friendly.

        That the US actually participated in this is simply appalling to me as one who pays the salaries of these asswipes.

    • July 25, 2014 10:11 am

      I think you nailed it. The EU will happen no matter what the citizens of Europe actually want or need. That the UK has stayed out so long is puzzling but encouraging.

    • July 26, 2014 5:21 pm

      I think you greatly overestimate the intentions of the WhiteHouse and state department.

      Mind you I do not disagree that they are dangerous and disruptive.
      But I do not think they are nearly so organized or well planned.

      My hostility to government is no secret.

      But the evils of government are not confined to organized Tryanny conspiring from the top.

      So what if the IRS viewpoint targeting was entirely orchestrated by Lois Lerner ?
      Does that somehow make it good ?

      As even Obama has noted the federal government is far too large to be controlled.
      But that does not prevent the abuse of the power of government power by those within it, large or small.

      If you are the victim does it matter whether the tyrant is in the whitehouse or a secretary at a local municipality who make you wait or lose your applications, or excercise whatever little petty power she has over others ?

      What does it matter if the results are of incompetence rather than malice or arrogance ?

      Ukraine was unstable before we started meddling. All this might have happened much the same way anyway. But the efforts of our local representatives to advance their careers and gain some small victory over the Russians have contributed to a mess. To people dying. To unnecessary conflict.

      We can not solve the problems of other peoples or nations.

      The “powers that be” small and large do not accept that because it disempowers them.

      We must always remember when government seeks power to solve a problem for us, that when done they are not giving the power back. Worse still giving them power rarely solves our problems.

      As Lord Acton noted
      Power corrupts.

  16. Roby L permalink
    July 25, 2014 10:31 am

    Could you please point me to a link of evidence about our diplomats being substantially involved prior to things melting down? I mean really involved, real money power, military support anything substantial? Involved is not a very powerful word it could mean anything. According to the Russians we did it, this is our revolution. I thing that is crap, propaganda crap.

    • July 25, 2014 11:13 am

      The report (and the recording that it was based on) was broadcast on the BBC world-wide via NPR. That was a while ago but the gist was that the state dept officials were talking about the coming coup (before it happened) and had all of the details of when and where it was going to take place.

      They were actually talking about a succession plan and who the new President should be. They ruled out Vitali Klichzko (sp) the current heavyweight boxing champion of the world. They wanted someone who was pro-EU all the way and they chatted about how to “influence” the decision.

      I do not recall any discussion of weapons etc. and one would hope that even this ditz from the state dept was bright enough to not chat about that OVER A CELL PHONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      I will see if I can dig up more online and post it later.
      As I said later, I trust our current state dept about as far as I could heave them.

      • July 25, 2014 11:23 am

        Touche, JB.. touche

      • July 25, 2014 11:25 am

        Everyone in a while, I do get one right. Also, listening the BBC takes much effort, so I am happy to have something to show for it.

      • Roby L permalink
        July 25, 2014 12:38 pm

        I’ll be stunned if you can provide a BBC or NPR link with the allegations that you state. I searched for it and all I find is the drivel of the far left such as this:

        and even this propaganda drivel does not contain the claim you mention.

        Now I am remembering what I often have had the luxury to forget of late. I hate the *&^%$ far left just as much as I hate the *&$#? far right and they are very similar on certain topics. Both more resemble a mental illness than a respectable ideology. Ask either to tell you how they would govern and you will hear a Real set of fables and lies. Imperfect as what we have is, its a paradise by comparison to what Andy Tonti is selling.

        The usual method of both is to start with some reasonable ideas and then to quickly veer of into conspiracy theories.

        There are many accurate criticisms that can be made of the US and the West in general and we have lost a great deal of moral authority through actions such as the invasions of Panama and the Falkland islands. That is the reasonable jumping off point from which real nonsense follows.

      • July 25, 2014 12:50 pm

        Well, Roby, it looks like you are calling me a liar. I heard, what I heard. Whether I can fetch anything from the BBC website on this, I don’t know, but I will check it out. That was a while ago, so it may not be there.

        Anyway, why do you find it hard to believe that our State Dept. would be involved in something like this? This is their classic MO?

      • July 26, 2014 5:26 pm

        I heard pretty much the same. Though not on BBC.

        Whatever was going to happen in the Ukraine it was not our business to be shaping it. We are clearly incompetent at that.

        Petty State officials were seeking career enhancement, and we were seeking to rub Putins nose in it.

        How well did that work out ?

        Just because Putin is a tyrant does not mean we should play the same game.

      • July 26, 2014 9:19 pm

        I totally agree with you last statement.

  17. July 25, 2014 11:16 am

    Here is a link: I am not sure about the EU comment as I did not remember that in the BBC report.

  18. July 25, 2014 11:59 am

    Roby, allow me to copy and paste a segment from your previous entry. My response follows.

    “This situation is the result of a clumsy courtship between Ukraine and two suitors both of whom seem to have been oblivious to the cards the other held. The US came in much later, when Russian actions became incompatible with any kind of democratic values.”

    The US has attempted at least a few times to overthrow the Ukie government. The Orange Revolution comes to mind from a few years back, 2008!! This current intervention was to stir up dissension following Crimea’s vote to join Russia. The US State Dept with its lead commander (Obama) purposely set up a false flag in the Maidan confrontation using right-wing extremists/anarchists with overt Nazi allegiance to attack Ukrainian citizens and police.
    A violent, bloody offensive followed leading to the toppling of the elected Ukraine govt, and replacing it with an extremist right-wing coterie heavily financed by the (quiz-guess who?)
    White House and Congress. This governing (if thats the correct term) body is extracting all economic resources from the people and institutions, massacuring the citizens, destroying much of the intrastructure, and open for assimilation into the EU for funneling all assets/revenue of the nation into Western banks and creditors. Russia has denounced all this and is calling upon the UN to impose sanctions possibly armed intervention. Russian troops are deployed at the border with Ukraine to protect Russia from the insurgents expanding the war zone. The 2 suitors you allude to in your text are the US and the EU/NATO. Their intent is not a courtship but rather regime change to a government aligned with and obedient to the West.

    • July 25, 2014 12:48 pm

      Regime change! Now, where have I heard that one before.

      Well said.

    • Roby L permalink
      July 25, 2014 12:51 pm

      There is not a single statement in the above that you can support with facts that really support exactly what you said and not something else that very vaguely resembles it if one is credulous and so hates the US that they are predisposed to believe Russian propaganda. The US has been involved openly in Ukraine and is opposed to Russian foreign policy in the region (for damn good reasons.) That is the extent of the coincidence between reality and your ideas.

      I’m no more going to debate this drivel than I am going to debate with say, climate skeptics. You all live in completely different universes with your own sets of facts.

      Your worldview is as welcome to me as scientology. Good luck to you in your life and may you live a hundred years and be healthy and never see one of your political ideas come true.

      • July 25, 2014 12:56 pm

        Ah, calm down there buddy. It is not hard at all to believe that our state dept. is in this up to their armpits. Have you not read the news of late or read any history books on how state and the CIA operates?

        Really, I am not making Putin out to be a good guy (he’s not) but this kind of meddling rarely turns out well for the little people who get killed as pawns for these so called diplomats.

      • Roby L permalink
        July 25, 2014 1:11 pm

        My comment was directed at Andy, not you JB. God only knows where it was was posted though.

        However, regarding your BBC link above, as I thought would turn out, that story is both old news and does not live up to the billing you gave it in any way. US state dept people discussing political players in Ukraine is NOT the same as engineering a revolution to install them! Not even close. There is nothing that I could see in there about the US knowing all the details about the coup before it happened. That sounds a hell of a lot more like counterpunch than anything from the BBC. Good grief, did I wake up in some alternate universe with a counterpunch version of JB? I had some issues with the old JB politics but this new one is straining my mind.

      • July 26, 2014 5:33 pm

        Can exactly what was said be supported – no. But is the general story true and proveable – yes.

        Ukraine is split between pro western and pro russian groups.
        Ultimately they must work it out themselves or split.

        Dividing every nation on earth into tiny peices based on ethnic, cultural, racial or other lines is ultimately idiocy.
        But it is not our role (or russias) to decide that for the ukrainians.

        In this instance it appears we pushed action when waiting was the best hope of slowly resolving these conflicts.

        The result increasingly looks like two or more countries.

        Maybe that is how we should solve our divides in the US ?
        Let the red and blue states go there separate ways ?

        Time will resolve the issues we are fighting over.
        Likely the same was true in the Ukraine.

        What is more clearly certain is that the Coup is leading to dividing the country.

  19. July 25, 2014 12:53 pm

    This is how diplomats talk. Love it:

    US officials refused to confirm or deny the tape’s authenticity, but state department spokeswoman Jan Psaki said: “I didn’t say it was inauthentic.”


  20. Roby L permalink
    July 25, 2014 1:00 pm

    Counterpunch links now, Oh my god we will make a good ISO member of you yet! Seriously what passes for journalism at counterpunch is not quite the same as the BBC.

    JB old buddy, you are so angry with Obama and anything connected to him that you have completely lost it. Reboot somehow.

    • July 25, 2014 2:14 pm

      I gave you the link to the BBC site. What else would you like?

      This anger at the state dept is not tied to Obama per se (yeah, I hate him). But, the state dept. has been an instigator and meddler LONG before Obama was born. Wherever these career diplomats go, trouble seems to follow.

      • Roby L permalink
        July 25, 2014 2:42 pm

        I’d like you to reread it and note that it does not say anything remotely like what you billed it as saying., Duh, US state department officials discussed Ukrainian political figures, Duh, they had an opinion and favorites. You cannot connect the dots to the idea that they engineered a revolution to install them, knew exaclty how it was going to happen and when. That is Counterpunch territory.

        God, How I hate the far left, I guess that I don’t actually hate them as much as I hate the far right but they are more irritating because they start from nice ideas and then ruin them by being so blind and utterly stupid.

      • July 25, 2014 2:46 pm

        The BBC article only reflects on the leaked information. I think it would be naïve to assume that the state dept. was innocently sitting by just expressing opinions on who should take over as President. You can assume that if you like but I would suggest it would take a wanton disregard of past state dept. actions.

        I am sure they no had hand in the overthrow in Libya or Egypt for that matter.


  21. Roby L permalink
    July 25, 2014 1:28 pm

    I am perfectly willing to accept that the CIA does stupid and rotten things. Imagining them being up to Salvadore Allende era type dirty tricks and any actual proof that they are doing them in Ukraine are two Utterly Different Things. This situation in Ukraine is not in US interests. We did not need to destabilize eastern Europe and I find it hard to believe that we did and have seen no really credible evidence of it. I am not going to imagine evidence, I will have to actually see it before I will believe we were behind the Ukrainian revolution.

    For God’s sake is it actually that hard to believe that people there just got fed up and rebelled while the west cheered and provided diplomatic cover? John McCain is a free person and can do what he wants but he is not the US government.

    As to the little people paying for the bigger wheels turning, its the first place today I can agree with you JB (gotta make it clear who I am addressing here I guess). I wish that this had not happened in Ukraine, if I had a button to push to return the Ukrainian situation back, say two years, and have a peaceful compromise occur instead of this revolution I would push it in a second. But actual people got fed up, shed blood, and chased Yanukovych out. and all in all I support the right of Ukrainians not to live under Putin’s thumb. I have a far different view of Putin’s morals, actions, and motivations that Andy does and I have lived in Putin’s country and heard the man speak.

    • July 26, 2014 5:36 pm

      Unless the US is willing to commit blood and treasure, why should we be advising other nations when we are not going to save them from the consequences of our advice.

  22. July 25, 2014 2:14 pm


    You stated in your above commentary that quote ” We did not need to destabilize eastern Europe and I find it hard to believe that we did and have seen no really credible evidence of it.” unquote.

    The US and NATO have been building up troops and rocket weaponry along the borders of the Eastern European countries that border Russia, and has nuclear warheads positioned toward Moscow. In addition, US has military installations in most if not all NATO countries. Is that credible enough evidence?? Can you propose a sensible reason why this continuous military buildup has been occurring?

    The West has been propagandizing that Russia alone is the culprit behind all this crisis in the Ukraine, The West has been doing most of the propagandizing, from the President to Secretary of State, Congress, NATO members Britain, Germany, and France, Western media, to name some. Russia has been largely on the defensive. From several sources I’ve read that the US is also contemplating financial warfare by floating information that major Russian banks are involved in money laundering and lending violations. This kind of information can cause investors to keep away from Russian finance, and other investors to cancel their financial arrangements with the banks. So the US and its mouthpieces are doing things that could and would destabilize the economies of Eastern Europe and Russia.
    Yes, we don’t get firsthand news about Russia’s intentions and activities on the world stage but several online news outlets have been establsihed (with no Western biases) that deliver
    news and politics about Russia, the Middle East, Israel, etc. These outlets are mainly not for profit and publicly funded, and the delivery of non-manipulated news is often coupled with live on-site video coverage, and commentary from both stakeholders in the situation. If all the news and information you get is only from many sources, but one side, you tend to develop an incomplete and potentially inaccurate assessment of current events and updates.

    • Roby L permalink
      July 25, 2014 2:35 pm

      I read the Russian news daily, In Russian. Ukrianian news as well, in Russian and English. I do not read Ukrainian, but my wife does. She is neutral in this, but is Russian born in Ukraine. Somehow, I think you are going to come out ahead in a question of who is reading enough news. (RT by the way is not a neutral party just in case you think so.) But If you care to do a little digging you will have no trouble at all finding the facts about how Putin has brought nearly all Russian media outlets under his control first TV then print and online. Don’t let that interfere your high opinion of his actions though. Somehow, I think your brain will not be wired to accept this situation in a factual way.

      If you yourself cannot provide the reason that the west has been reinforcing NATO ties in places like NATO then now amount of my explaining things to you is going to fix things.

      • July 25, 2014 2:43 pm

        I for one don’t assume that Putin is a good guy and is being straight with us. Then again, not everything bad that happens is likely of his making and not everything that comes out of his mouth must be a lie.

        My point is that I am sure we have a ton of that on both sides of this dispute. The US media seems to take everything out of the “state dept’ and US Intelligence as gospel. I won’t insult anyone by pointing out how often these people have been dead wrong. lying, or both.

        Benghazi, anyone, anyone?

    • Priscilla permalink
      July 25, 2014 3:22 pm

      The idea that Russia is the victim of US and Western aggression in eastern Europe is laughable.

      Putin is a bad guy, but no evil genius. Much of his recent “success” is due to our fecklessness, not his masterful chess playing.

      But at least he’s playing chess.

      • July 25, 2014 5:20 pm

        It is not a question of good and bad. HE is playing the same game Russia has played since 1600. Control of the Balkans, Ukraine, the Baltic States. Make Poland nervous. Germany – Friend or Foe. It depends. The USA has no historical interest in their neighborhood.

      • Ron P permalink
        July 25, 2014 5:38 pm

        I have to say this has been one of the most interesting discussions in a long time. Rick hit a home run on this one. Can’t wait until the attention turns to Israel after Russia comments subside.

        Mark, the USA has had an historical interest in the neighborhood when you consider WW1 and WW2. It was in our interest for the Berlin wall to fall. It was in our interest for Poland to become a democratic country. It is now in our interest to see the Baltics and that area become less under the influence of Russia than they are, along with Ukraine. The decisions made now, just like the decisions that reagan made about the Societ Union, will have alot of impact on what happens with the increased influence Russia has on the area in the future.

        What we can not do is ignore that area, but we also can not be the policeman. We need to make decisions today that will allow countries to move to democracy or to Russian influence as they wish. This will help to avoid much greater involvement in the years to come. How we do that is anyones guess, and that seems to be what our state department has been doing for some time. Guessing. We have to understand that the EU are wimps that will not take a stand on any issue that may impact their personal comfort.

        If the US stood by and did nothing and russia decided they wanted control of all of Europe, I wonder just how much the rest of the EU would defend themselves.

      • July 25, 2014 5:40 pm

        My very bright friend Ed Sketch would say- Focus on China, that is the future. No problem with anything else up there written.

      • Priscilla permalink
        July 25, 2014 11:27 pm

        Oh, yes it is a question of good and bad. Putin is a thug, a bad guy. You can make the argument that we are bad guys too, but, for the most part you would be wrong. Your friend Ed may be right, but that does not make him a good guy.

    • July 26, 2014 5:37 pm

      Our misdeeds do not excuse Russias – and visa versa.

  23. Roby L permalink
    July 25, 2014 5:56 pm

    “The USA has no historical interest in their neighborhood.”

    I’m beginning to feel like an old guy and we have had an interest in Russia’s affairs all my life. Mark Twain famously was also interested. So, your sentence only seems to exist as an easy target to knock down. There is obviously a history.

    WWII can be seen from one point of view as a battle between Hitler and Stalin, two megalomaniac psychopaths on grand scales willing to kill tens of millions to bring their nation and its (evil) ideas about government into fruition. Hitler died in his bunker, Stalin lived on and perpetuated his system, his ideas. Forty percent of Russians still admire Stalin, but they worry about the so-called fascists in Ukraine. Fascists because some of their grandfathers, presented with a choice of two evils, gambled on the one that began with the letter H instead of the S-evil. Talk about two bad choices.

    It matters that we contain Russia, what with Russia having many weapons, a historical chip on its shoulder, and being controlled completely, as usual, by one man with absolutely no checks and balances in the Russian system. No matter who will be in power in the US the goal will be to prevent USSR vers.II.

    Looking at events like the Panama invasion it also matters that someone or something constrain us. The USA and Russia are the two countries that have brought about the most bloodshed post WWII. I favor our system greatly but still would be happy to see another cop on the beat and have our leaders learn that our moral authority is not a thing to be squandered away in places like Iraq and Panama.

    As of now, I seem to have lost my argument with Ron P, Priscilla, and JB. The European countries, and most notably Germany, did Not respond to MH-17 with tougher sanctions. As of today I would say advantage Putin. Its tempting to say, Oh well, its their problem. Really its everyone’s problem, it is wishful thinking that USSR vers. II is just a European issue. No more than Germany in 1939 was just a European issue. We will see what the next year brings, any ideas on how to deal with Putin from Europe or not. IF not we cannot just say, tough luck Europe. Are we seeing the seeds planted that will curse our children’s lives? It feels like that.

    • July 25, 2014 7:39 pm

      Russia is losing the demographic war. 140 million and shrinking. For me, it’s Islam and China but whose to say.

    • Priscilla permalink
      July 25, 2014 10:34 pm

      Roby, You have not lost your argument with me. I agree with you on Russia and Putin. I’ve been saying all along that we need to rally the Europeans (I’ve been saying “lead” them, actually, but maybe that is why everyone disagrees with me….”rally” seem more cheerleader-ish and less risky). I have called our foreign policy “feckless” because it is (Merriam-Webster: feckless- 1. : weak, ineffective.) That is not to say that we can’t change. But it is highly unlikely to happen under this administration.

      And, I totally understand the disdain that JB and Ron have for our European allies. I have it too. But I also understand that we have done nothing to give them reason to stand with us and against Russia. They can fence-sit comfortably, so they will.

      I also feel as if the world is whistling in a very cold and nightmarish wind.

    • Ron P permalink
      July 25, 2014 11:43 pm

      Roby, I would not say you have lost the arguement with me concerning Ukraine and Russia.What we may disagree on is the manner in which we take part. I have said that we need (ed) to support Ukraine with assistance more than food for the troops. I have said we needed to give them military assistance, but not manpower. Maybe behind the scenes manpower like someone in a command center operating a drone or intelligence manpower to give their troops information on where they need to go. I have also said if Poland had not asked that the missiles not be placed in Poland, that those should be there. Too many Pols resisted and their government backed off the defensive system. I have no problem supporting anyone with military hardware and support that does not include American lives. Bush sealed my thinking on that with the ill conceived war in Iraq that destabilized the area and left it with the mess it is in today. Giving hardware support also creates jobs in America, so indirectly that is good for the economy.

      Where I disagree with many concerning Ukraine is the MH flight being downed and economic sanctions. I have said we can work with our friends, but these two issues are the EU issues. If we can not get the large number of countries in the EU to support sanctions, then what good can anything we do accomplish. France is selling military hardware to Russia. The UK has a huge interest in the financial institutions with Russia. Germany gets the majority of its energy from Russia. Heaven only knows what Italy gets. How can we bring all these divergent interests together and convince all the EU countries with many personal issues to support one or more sanctions. I offer the EU has to come together themselves and decide no one country has more interest than another in the actions taken. And when actions are taken they all need to agree. That will never happen, so the US will look like a weak leader when the impossible was undertaken to begin with. The best we can do, IMHO, is work through the UN to bring all the interested parties together so they can decide what is in their best interest. And we all know how fruitful actions of the UN happen to be. I offer that the EU will be as effective with this issue as we would be if we brought 50 governors together to come up with a plan to fix the immigration problem.

      So we may agree or not. Or it may be the degree of involvement that we may not agree on.

      • Ron P permalink
        July 25, 2014 11:51 pm

        Roby..clarification. concerning above post. Iraq..We sent manpower. That I do not support. As for Ukraine, Russian separatist, MH flight, sanctions, etc, they are separate in my mind. We can still support the Ukrainian government in its fight with the rebels and not be the leader in the issues concerning the downing of the plane and imposing sanctions on Russia.

      • July 26, 2014 8:01 am

        Not to throw a damper on this “support Ukraine’s government” line but this is not a duly elected government. These clowns staged a coup and tried to kill the elected President, who fled in a copter at midnight.

        So, I am not sure how our state dept. and POTUS would justify its claim that this regime is legit.

        Moreover, Crimea held a referendum and decide they wanted out.

        To me, it seems that when elections don’t go our way, we are all about supporting the losers, if it suits our purposes.

        Such relative morality.

        Apparently, as long as you against the guys we are currently against, you are OK by us
        Refer to Syria, Egypt, Libya, et. al.

        Now, I am not a fan of Putin, nor of Hassad. However, one can see clearly why many in the rest of the world might wonder why we meddle so.

        Now, about that southern border ……..

      • Priscilla permalink
        July 26, 2014 12:11 am

        Ron, Forget about the UN. Useless POS.

        But, yes, hammer Russia on MH17,,,at least as much as Israel gets hammered for defending itself, Bring the full weight of public opinion, at least in the West, down on the side of Ukraine.

        Not that difficult, if the will is there…..

      • July 26, 2014 8:13 am

        Not to argue but you assume that Russia brought down that plane. Actually, it would not have been in their best interests for them to do so nor to even give the Rebels the guns to do it.

        When you think about it, the “winner” has been Ukraine’s government.

        Moreover, the Rebels actually have been cooperating with the investigation, which is something you only can hear about on the BBC. The US press has already convicted Putin of this crime.(he may in fact, be guilty but we don’t know that).

        Now. to be clear, I have no knowledge of who shot down the plane and in the end, it doesn’t matter. They are all dead and the mischief goes on as usual. I bet no one in the state department cared, save those who were concerned about how it made them look.

      • Priscilla permalink
        July 26, 2014 8:23 am

        JB, I pretty much agree with the position that PM Harper of Canada lays out in today’s OpEd

        “Although we may refer to militants in eastern Ukraine as “pro-Russian separatists,” we are not confused by who, and what, they really are: an extension of the Russian state. They derive their material, political and logistical support from the Putin regime, and their criminal aggression and recklessness reflect the values of their Russian benefactors.”

      • July 26, 2014 8:38 am

        I will disagree with the statement but have no direct information with which to confront it. I doubt Harper has either, nor does he need it. That is the party line of the “west.”

        That said, it could be true. The question I would have for Harper is this: who backed the guys that ousted the last Ukraine President? Was that just a popular uprising or did the EU or US have any hand in that?

        Just asking? As you can see, I don’t trust either side and history might tell us what actually happened, eventually.

        These guys lie so much, they can’t actually recall the truth.

      • Roby L permalink
        July 26, 2014 9:26 am

        I lost a narrower argument Ron, I thought that the Western governments would do something fairly large on Tuesday. You three doubted. You guys were correct. I hope that Germany has a long term plan to contain Putin that is not immediately obvious.

      • July 26, 2014 9:30 am

        Suggest you read the article I posted just a few minutes ago. Putin just signed a deal with the BRICs to sell natural gas. He is NOT hurting at this point, no matter what the western media says,

        Shoot, even Malaysia has “withheld judgment” about who shot down the plane until all the evidence is gathered.

        Again, I am NOT defending Putin, just showing how narrow the response to him has been.

        Meanwhile, on our Southern Border, the invasion continues and the press sleep on.

        Apparently, this is not an issue of concern of the left?

      • Ron P permalink
        July 26, 2014 12:44 pm

        Roby, I am not sure just how many countries are in the EU or closely aligned with the EU. Maybe 30 or so. And each country has its own interests. Many have their own language. Very different than the US. I would say getting most of these countries to come up with a plan for almost anything that they all would support would be worse than herding cats. That is why I doubted anything would happen and why I say the USA should stay out of the actions the EU takes.

        JB makes some interesting arguements as to why we should not support the Ukrainian government, now or in the past. I may change my thoughts after learning more about the Ukrainian government, but currectly I would have supported something greater than MRE’s for Ukraine months ago and that may have kept the MH flight from being shot down. But no one will ever know, just speculating.

      • Priscilla permalink
        July 26, 2014 10:10 am

        JB, you’re not exactly defending Putin, but you are giving him the benefit of the doubt over, say the Prime Minister of Canada, when evaluating whether or not Russia is sending militants and weapons into Ukraine, or blaming those militants for the shoot-down of a civilian plane. I assume that no one WANTED to shoot the plane down, but someone did, and with a BUK missile. Ok, ok. Things are not always what they seem. But sometimes they are.

  24. July 25, 2014 7:40 pm

    And we cannot control everything besides who will pay for it?

    • Priscilla permalink
      July 25, 2014 11:22 pm

      Oh, someone will, Mark.

    • Ron P permalink
      July 26, 2014 12:03 am

      Mark, maybe if our government required a detailed budget for each progam, a plan of action for each program and a report of its effectiveness, including a review of duplicate programs we would have the money to support friends around the world when they need help and not put the tab on our grand kids debt.

      Right now I hear how much the VA wants, how much B,O, wants for immigration control and other request by federal agencies. I see no plan as to how the money will be spent and how the effectiveness of those expendiitures will be monitored. “Lets just throw some money at the probem and see what helps”.

      States send millions to the feds for the transportation departments support of highways. Does 100% of that money go to highways? NO. Where does it go? They want more to continue road projects. Where did the other billions go before we give them more. Bullet trains in California from Fresno to Bakersfield that will cost more than a few billion to complete. And anyone who knows california knows that starts in the middle of nowhere and ends at the outer edge or nowhere.

      So we would pay. Its just which generation!

      • July 26, 2014 8:09 am

        We are paying now and always have. The questions are: how much, who pays, and what do we get for it?

        Regarding the Southern Border invasion, I hear liberals cry about our “moral obligation” to take in whoever shows up. After all, it is “for the children” and we need to live up to our “Christian ideals.”

        When it suits their fancy, libs pull out all the stops and the hypocrisy never stops. There have been 53 Million babies aborted in the US since Roe vs Wade was passed. I don’t hear the libs making any noise about that little issue. Children are shot and killed in our inner cities every day of the year and do you see any liberal demand this be addressed?

        Moreover, the libs have led the attack on Christian values in the US since the 60s. Who are the first to be derided in this country? Southern Christians and their “outdated morality and sense of family values!”

        So, can we have it both ways, dear liberals? Apparently, you think so.

        And, we are 17.5T in debt and climbing.

        This POTUS is just the worst of all time.

        This is why I am against any tax increase of any kind.

        When you are spending on everything, you stand for nothing.

        Priorities matter.

      • July 26, 2014 8:19 am

        Ron, et al. I have 34 years in the Government. The VA, Social Security Computer fiasco are just tips of the iceberg. While Progressives lash out at DoD spending, the whole system is completely whacked out. Start a new topic on that one.

      • July 26, 2014 8:21 am

        Indeed. I worked in the Post Office when I was in college. Changed my life and my life view.
        Once you see the belly of the beast, you can’t get it out of your mind.

      • July 26, 2014 9:54 am

        My progressive friends on other Media believe somehow the Oligarchs created this dysfunctional government on purpose as part of a grand conspiracy. Robert Reich implies that too on his blog. I say no, it’s the Government you created since 1933. And they don’t get it.

      • July 26, 2014 10:02 am

        Robert Reich might be the dumbest man ever to come out of Harvard, and that is saying something!

      • July 26, 2014 11:04 am

        that maybe true but he sure is popular with the uber progressives.

      • July 26, 2014 11:31 am

        They love that little twerp. I chalk it up to his consistency I parroting the party line. Never an original nor cross thought will ever come from his lips.

      • Ron P permalink
        July 26, 2014 1:01 pm

        Mark, maybe we can get rick to write another article before the end of August on the subject of government spending. Better yet, he could just post “Give me your ideas on cutting the debt and deficit”.

        Right now the comments about Ukraine and Israel don’t need to be interrupted by another sore subject.

      • July 26, 2014 8:22 am

        please fire away on Government spending questions on a new post.

  25. July 25, 2014 8:52 pm

    Well, Rick, to be fair to you, although I doubt anyone really wants a WW, it clearly could happen by way of random error or mistake. That is why I hold diplomats in such disdain. They assume WAY to much.

    • Priscilla permalink
      July 25, 2014 11:17 pm

      Remember not so long ago (less than a year?) Obama was furiously backpedalling from his Syrian “red line.” And when I say “furiously backpedalling, ” I mean he said “Whatever…never mind.”

      Random error or mistake actually seems more likely than not……

      • July 26, 2014 7:55 am

        Yes. Talk about the bigotry of low expectations, this guy is the poster child for why Affirmative Action actually hurts the one’s they purport to love.

  26. Anonymous permalink
    July 26, 2014 12:13 am

    matters that we contain Russia, what with Russia having many weapons, a historical chip on its shoulder, and being controlled completely, as usual, by one man with absolutely no checks and balances in the Russian system. No matter who will be in power in the US the goal will be to prevent USSR vers.II.

    Allow me to offer a comparison to your above description of current Russian political situation. I’m referring of course to the current US executive and legislative dilemma. Here we have one man, the POTUS, making unilateral decisions to conduct unmanned drone warfare anywhere and at anytime in the world!! To double down on the expansion and refinement of our national surveillance state, and lets not leave out our sturdy, loyal European allies in this effort. Right now there is no organized opposition to the reactionary behavior of our Congress and President (checks and balances, anyone?) and basically all march in lockstep to the expansion of capitalist predation
    throughout most of the Third World. Yes we will try hard to prevent a re-emergence of a USSR, because that is the worldview we have held of Russia since the end of WWll, despite significant changes in the political, economic, and cultural status of much of the world. Did you notice any similarities between your assessment of Russia and theUS? Let me know.

    • July 26, 2014 8:15 am

      Well said. This POTUS acts like a disinterested despot, flitting from one party to another, dropping in to give a speech, make somebody else wrong, deny knowledge, and then, off to vacation again.

      Nice gig if you can get it.

      • Roby L permalink
        July 26, 2014 9:37 am

        For the second day in a row I wake up in an alternate universe where our reliably very conservative JB is on the same page with a far lefty hollering about reactionaries in the US government and the capitalist rape of the world. While Anonymous (Andy) believes that Obama and our congress are reactionary (which means far right, JB believes that they are lefties, and yet somehow these utterly opposite worldviews are high fiving each other with only hatred of Obama in common. JB, you are so angry that you can’t see straight. I don’t want to think of where your blood pressure must be.

      • July 26, 2014 9:50 am

        if you think of the Uber left and the Uber Right as the same thing, then your blood pressure can drop.

      • July 26, 2014 9:56 am

        My blood pressure is actually a bit low but thanks for asking. I think I have been pretty clear about this. I don’t trust much of anything to do with world governments. To me, they are clearly out to take care of themselves and the level of “morality” you see in their behaviors are pretty appalling indeed. It is all about keeping your job and the next election.

        I don’t see that as a leftist view, but a realistic view based on my reading of history and current events. Let’s face it, most of our pols have feet of clay and I don’t think I am alone in that thinking. Show me some shining examples of courage and leadership in the US Government at this point in time. I would love to be proven wrong.

        Now, the issue I have is with our current POTUS and this feckless Congress that has surrendered all manner of its authority. The US Constitution clearly does not envision an Imperial POTUS and cedes much authority to Congress. Since these guys must all be dealing with a base case of white guilt (see Shelby Steele) I guess the Constitution matters not as long as no one calls the POTUS incompetent.

        So, I am WAY less concerned about Ukraine and Vlad Putin. Sorry if that offends anyone’s sense of “morality” but WHO CARES?

        There are people fighting the world. I would re-direct out attention to our own southern border, which has become the joke of the century.

        I know that I will be labeled a racist and a xenophobe and that is fine with me. I am way past the point in my life where I care about being labeled anything save naïve or stupid (both of which I am decidedly not).

        BTW-Please don’t call me an conservative. As you can see, these labels simply obscure rather than clarify.

        All that said, I have enjoyed this conversation, which has skirted most of the personal animus that might have occurred.

  27. July 26, 2014 7:53 am

    I am pretty much on the same page as you P. I simply don’t trust this state dept and POTUS to generate anything much that is not in their own narrow special interests. That usually does not include the welfare of the normal citizens of any country.

    “Let them eat cake!”

  28. July 26, 2014 8:56 am

    Meanwhile our version of Putin gets ready to turn the country into Honduras:

    Seems like Obama is daring Congress to impeach him. What a total moron this guy is.

  29. Roby L permalink
    July 26, 2014 9:18 am

    “Here we have one man, the POTUS, making unilateral decisions to conduct unmanned drone warfare anywhere and at anytime in the world!! …Did you notice any similarities between your assessment of Russia and the US? Let me know.”

    I am very willing to criticize US policies, there are many that are disgusting. But I am not willing to do it in a stupid and oblivious manner. When you compare the US to Russia and when one even praises Putin’s actions, as you did previously, I just decide right off that if you are an intelligent person in the first place then your far-left ideology has completely strangled your ability to observe and reason when it comes to politics. The far left will always exist in the US as a tiny group but it will never have any success at all because, as a long existing political subculture there are ingrained intellectual habits, bad ones, that make it impossible for far lefties to persuade or even really talk to people who are not far lefties.

    When I first got involved in Russia back in 2000, it was at a moment when it seemed poised to make a great leap forward and become a democracy and leave the authoritarian governments that it had for its entire history behind. Unfortunately, openness and political freedom coincided with the fall of the communist economy and complete economic misery. At the height of that misery Yeltsin died and Putin entered the stage and rather quickly ended political freedom in Russia, which the Russians accepted because he brought stability and the economy, which could not have sunk further, began to recover. There is a great deal in Russia and from Russia that I love deeply. Putin has twisted Russia into the Belarusian model of a dictatorship and a cult of personality. The media and the courts in Russia do nothing that Putin does not wish. You seem utterly oblivious to that. Is that a good way to persuade anyone of anything?

    You wish to discuss the ills of America, but are so polluted with your far left ideology that you can’t just do the smart thing and discuss the drones in their own right, no, you have to prove that you are oblivious to both the realities in the US and in Russia first with your ignorant comparison. Unfortunately, the only important thing to US far lefties is that they hate America with such a passion that they cannot see straight or make any objective analysis of anything. So, naturally, a tremendous fail as a political force is the result, despite having at least some reasonable criticisms of the US as a starting point.

  30. Roby L permalink
    July 26, 2014 9:45 am

    Now, as to those drones as their own subject, they are deplorable, but what is the better solution, do you (Andy) have a realistic one? The Taliban in Afghanistan and Al Qaeda declared war on the US and brought down the twin towers (unless you believe, as many lefties do, that W did it). That changed a lot. We are at war with radical Islam, they declared it. Would it be better if it were helicopter gunships than drones? That would increase US casualties and it is not the job of the US president to increase US casualties. The drones are not a one man show, that is an idiotic statement, they could be stopped by the courts, by congress, or by elections. The fact that they have not been stopped in any of those ways is due to the grim reality of Al Queda, the Taliban and their holy war on the West. The far left answer is probably unilateral disarmament in the belief that it would lead to peace. That is a mistake, the vast majority of Americans believe that it is a mistake, and so we are at war and have drones to reduce US casualties. The civilian casualties are deplorable but not intentional, unlike those inflicted on our civilians by Radical Islam.

    You have read Something about Radical Islam have you, for example how they treat women? Honestly, if I were a woman in the tribal regions of Afghanistan or Pakistan I think I might wish for a quick death somehow rather than life as an abused animal. NPR featured a charming story on a woman buried up to her neck in the sand and stoned to death by her children (they were forced to do it) for alleged adultery. The number of young women stoned to death by their own families (thousands per year) in Pakistan made the news recently. The NYT featured a story of the lives of women in the Pakistan tribal regions, they are confined after marriage to a walled off tiny part of a hut where they see no one except their husband and exist only to have sex and babies. That is the culture that declared war on us that we fight, including with drones. A regrettable state of affairs but definitely not the actions of a single unaccountable man. So, those “similarities” you see are a consequence of your own ideological cult, any intelligent person will quickly be able to point out the vast differences. Fail.

    • July 26, 2014 10:01 am

      Yet, the NY Times and NPR will run stories about how Islam is a “religion of peace” and how we all need to respect other cultures and values. Give me a break. The “religion” has ALWAYS been about subjugation and violence. I am not making this up, one can read about the history of Islam since its inception. A cult, is a cult, no matter how many times they stick their ass up in the wind to pray facing mecca.

      Really, I listen to NPR all the time. Those folks have a curious set of morals and values. And, they don’t get it, they think they are being quite erudite and “sensitive.”

      PS-Roby, please never type the word “fail” again. That one action will make me think less of you, much less.

      • Roby L permalink
        July 26, 2014 10:09 am

        You always think I am addressing you. Its Andy I was responding to. Please to not tell me what words I should say, (You Libertarian!) I am rather obstinate, like you! (your repeated Hitler comparisons to Obama certainly made me think much less, yes, but you will be you and I look for the good as well.)

  31. Roby L permalink
    July 26, 2014 10:27 am

    Well, I diagnose that I have fallen into obsession here. With a large number of both obligations and pleasures piling up, please, someone, shoot me if I post again today. Time to turn off the computer and get out of this chair. Good luck all!

  32. July 26, 2014 11:29 am

    I wouldn’t know the PM of Canada if he walked through my front door. I doubt he has any direct knowledge of this affair, only what the “intelligence” community gave him. You know, the same guys who tied the Benghazi murders to a home made video. Seriously, I don’t think these guys are doing the world intelligence a whole lot of good, do you?

    Again, there is plenty of time to assign blame and I for one, can wait. Apparently, the pols have already decided, less than 24 hours after the plane went down.

    Remaining skeptical based on vested interests.

    PS-If there is ALWAYS an enemy, these clowns will always have jobs.

    • Priscilla permalink
      July 26, 2014 3:26 pm

      We’ll have to agree to disagree on Putin, my friend. I think he is a thug and not to be trusted…regardless of whether the Ukrainians are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ guys, I think we should oppose the kind of aggression and violence that he is using to destabilize that country. And his denials sound to me an awful lot like “Do you believe me or your lying eyes?”

      But, you would find a lot to like in Mr. Harper, I think. Even if you disagree with his editorial urging sanctions on Russia, he offers clear moral and political reasons why Putin needs to be reined in. He has done a pretty impressive job of pulling Canada out of a huge deficit spending hole and has cut taxes repeatedly – individual and corporate – while doing it. Needless to say, he is hated by left wing Canadians and the media……but I think you’d get along if he walked through your front door 😉

      • July 26, 2014 4:35 pm

        If Harper is hated by the left wing, he is my kind of guy. Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting that Harper is lying. I wouldn’t know that. If Obama said it, the odds are it is an outright lie.

        But I am sure that Canadian intelligence is likely about as competent and moral as ours. So, I simply think that specific to the airliner, I will wait and see what the Dutch and other authorities say after the investigation.

        I will say that if the Russian rebels downed the airliner, they are acting a bit strange in the way they are cooperating with the investigation. Way too cooperative in my book. Hence, I think they likely did not do the shooting. Who did remains to be seen.

        Lastly, it would not surprise me one bit if Ukraine shot the plane down. The plane going down has clearly helped them more than any other party so far. Hence, my skeptical nature tells me that they could done it.

        “Always look to see who gains the most from something bad happening.” That is what my Uncle Bill (a detective) used to tell me.

        And yes, Putin is a thug. However, that does not mean he is behind every evil deed in this drama. The Ukraine regime might also be labeled such, given how the “got into office.”

      • July 27, 2014 12:42 pm

        JB, I am not quite sufficiently jaded to believe that Ukraine (not rebels) did this. Though on occasion such things have happened.

        For the most part I think we are all in near universal agreement.

        Overall it does not matter. Why is it our governments job to sort this out ?

        This is a mess. There appear to be no good guys. It is not in our interests, power or responsibility to do more than condemn bad behavior

        The difference between McCain who would arm the Ukrainians and those who would stay out of this are small.

        No one appears to be saying we should send US soldiers to fight in the Ukraine.

      • July 27, 2014 1:14 pm

        I agree. We don’t have a dog in this fight, the EU does. I seriously doubt that Vlad wants a throw down with the US Military, no matter how much of wimp Obama is.

  33. July 27, 2014 12:31 pm

    Of course Putin is a thug who needs reigned in.

    But that begs the question of how. Or even whether it is in our role or power as a government to do so.

    That something is true, needs to be done does not make it the job of the US government to do so.

    Something is being done the estimates of capitol flight from Russia this year so far vary from 75 to 200B. This has had a severe negative economic impact on Russia – possibly returning them to a recession. Further though compared to things like the US economy these numbers may look small, the impact of capitol movements on GDP is about 10 times the actual numbers. Capitol is investment.

    This is all VOLUNTARY capitol flight – no sanctions involved. This is investors saying a beligerant – “thuggish” russia is not where they wish to invest.

    This is mostly independent of imports and exports which have also been effected.

    No boots on the ground, no blood, none of our national treasure committed.

  34. July 27, 2014 12:34 pm

    Putin’s mostly subsequent thuggish behavior in Ukraine does not justify our PRIOR meddling.

    Trying to claim otherwise is like trying to justify the various coups we arranged across the world – because evil powers ultimately benefited from them.

    We need to behave in accord with our own values regardless of the misbehavior of others.

  35. July 27, 2014 1:15 pm

    JB, though I share some of your disdain for our bumbler in chief, for the most part he is more innept than devious.

    I think that ATF/DOJ deliberately amped up fast and furious, in the expactation that some violent event would trigger a backlash on guns.
    They did not anticipate the actual killing of US law enforcement and that the reaction would turn against government rather than against guns.

    I think the handling of the uprisings in Benghazi and the terrorist involvement surprised the administration. They handled it inneptly. But immediately grasped that serious damage to Pres. Obama’s anti-terror reputation weeks before a presidential election could be politically catastrophic. Frankly if the truth had been accepted prior to the election Obama would have lost. The “some internet movie” did it meme was grasping at straws, but it only needed to hold up for a few weeks – which with the help of a relatively friendly press it did.

    I do not think that the IRS scandal extends to the president. Maybe to the whitehouse.
    But I think Lerner was placed at the IRS to cause trouble. I think that the administration handling has once again been innept.

    Does it matter how far up the ladder this goes ?

    Of course there is something there. What we absolutely know for a fact already requires serious consequences at IRS and people to lose their jobs and/or go to jail.

    The IRS nor any other government agency must not ever target anyone in anyway based on political viewpoint. The left rants about the McCarthy hearings – how is this different ?

    Are you now or were you ever a Tea Party member ?

    If this does not lead to the whitehouse and the president – so be it.
    But everyone responsible should go to jail, and everyone merely aware of it that did nto report it should be permanently barred from government service. From the cincinati office up as far as this leads.

    Separately the President used his bully pulpit to urge his supporters to go after his enemies by whatever means necessary. when IRS employees take him at his word, he bears responsibility.

    I think it is clear that the US participated in a Coup in the Ukraine.
    While I think that might have been inevitable. Absent our goading the results might have been less polarizing and given Putin less of an opening.

    Regardless, Telling Putin to but out of something we participated in seems hypocritical.
    Ukraine is divided between those tied more strongly to Russia and those tied more strongly to the EU. The desires of both are legitimate. Partitioning the country as is happening is a bad result, doing so violently is worse.

    A big legal battle is brewing over the federal exchanges. IRS subsidies to those in those exchanges are improper according to the plain language of the law.
    The left is howling. This is a “typo”, the law could not possibly have intended such a ludicrous outcome. The arguments of opponents that it did are nonsense.
    Yet as we gain more knowledge it appears the law as written was exactly as intended.
    Eliminating subsidies from federal exchanges was a tactic to blackmail states into forming exchanges. That failed, progressives did not intend that to fail and leave millions without subsidies, so now they want the courts to rewrite the law and history.

    We measure people by their acts. We measure laws by their words. We do not judge intentions only god sees into our hearts and souls, the courts have no role their.

    I do not think Pres. Obama plans for the outcomes he gets. But they are still the uintended consequences of his own actions.

    It is irrelevant whether this is all some unlikely organized plot from the top, or merely a demonstration that our government is far too large, inept, clumsy with unintended consequences dwarfing expected results.

    It is irrelevant whether the failure is of malice or incompetence.
    It is irrelevant whether it originates at the top or is merely the action of individual government employees acting on their own.

    Power corrupts. Corruption is more than trading votes for money. It can be as little as a clerk at a government office forcing you to wait for an extra hour because they did not like your attitude.

    Our government is thoroughly corrupt. Not in the sense that bribery is endemic, but in the sense that government is no longer civil service, but our civil masters.

    • July 27, 2014 1:32 pm

      I pretty much agree with everything you have said.

      I would say that it is pretty evident to me that Eric Holder should go to jail for multiple counts of obstruction of justice. He is even worse at his job than his boss.

  36. Roby L permalink
    July 27, 2014 1:40 pm

    Well, I think you nailed liberals fair and square JB, and I am allegedly some sort of liberal. I could quibble about a few points but overall, you hit the target square on.

    Now, do so well JB with a caustic but funny and accurate description of conservatives and I will be Really impressed.

    • July 27, 2014 1:43 pm

      Thanks, I will try. To be fair, I don’t really know all that many conservatives and I don’t watch them either (for example Rush Limbaugh).

      Give me some time to think it over. I mostly hang out with more libertarian types.

      I could work on the John McCain types, but that would be cruel to anyone with a senility diagnosis.

  37. Roby L permalink
    July 27, 2014 1:55 pm

    Actually let me add a few. Liberals have very moral and pure ideas about how businesses should treat employees Until they run their own business.

    Liberals are smarter than everyone else, but think that a big hike in the minimum wage will actually be a great thing for workers in the US.

    Liberals HATE the far left but rarely admit that Micheal Moore is a marxist ideologue.

    Liberals are all for evolution and believe it is a 100% solid mechanism, but have no actual idea about how it really works or what the weak points are in its theories.

    Liberals believe in Global warming but they think we can cure it by driving small cars.

  38. July 27, 2014 2:00 pm

    Wonderful job, Roby. I think this could be an entire thread, no?:

  39. Roby L permalink
    July 27, 2014 2:09 pm

    I could write an equally sincere bit about the things that are good about liberals. And I could do the same for conservatives, write the good and the bad. There are good and bad points for each political persuasion, other than the far left and right, which are both just overwhelmingly bad.

  40. Priscilla permalink
    July 28, 2014 8:04 am

    So, the libertarian answer to Putin is to divide Ukraine, Dave? No international response, no “stop killing people and taking their stuff?”

    And, by response, I do not mean military. I mean building a strong international coalition that condemns of Russian aggression, institutes meaningful economic sanctions, revocation of visas, seizure of assets , etc.

    Something big, as Roby said.

    It sounds to me as if the libertarian view is to blame the US in equal part for the destabilization of the region. So, since we are as bad as Putin, just let’s butt out? I’m not trying to be obtuse here (there is the possibility that I am obtuse, but not for trying!) – but what I’m reading in your comments is moral equivalency (“we are bad, Putin is only a little worse”) and isolationism.

    • July 28, 2014 8:53 am


      I doubt the current administration has the desire, ability, or credibility to build any kind of “coalition” around Ukraine or for that matter, anything. Obama simply is playing golf and the November elections. He is too busy to care about Vlad and clearly not in his league either.

      Kerry is as inept as Clinton, so this dog is not going to hunt.

      What we SHOULD do versus what we CAN do is something to be considered. Moreover, everything that is done there requires resources that we simply must devote to other areas (IMHO). For example, to me, the invasion from the South (generated by Democrats BTW) is simply priority one.

      You know me, a xenophobe, but if I wanted to live in Honduras, I would move there. Does that make me sound cruel and heartless? So be it.

      • Roby L permalink
        July 28, 2014 9:33 am

        Skepticism is a good thing, cynicism in a reasonable dose is also good, but these can be taken too far. I’m not going to break my head trying to change the Libertarian attitude towards US foreign policy, as we have seen its actually not easy to distinguish it from the far left attitude. You (JB) are welcome to believe that all the diplomats and foreing policy people from the western world are corrupt, incompetent, and immoral, but that is frankly just silly and that opinion will have zero effect on the world, where a more nuanced one might. Things go wrong because the problems are so difficult and not every problem has a solution, metastasized liver cancer and war being two examples among many. Just speaking the names of all the US players with contempt is not a solution to anything. I promise you there are thousands of people in the western diplomatic corps who would burn you (or me) to the ground in a game of chess. By the time you have called everyone incompetent you have simply lost all your credibility.

        Ron P has done a good job of describing why this matter is so difficult.

        If the nations of Western Europe are now scrambling to truly end their dependence on Russian energy, especially gas, and if within 20 years Ukraine has become as prosperous and democratic as Poland, while Crimea rots under Russian hands, then Putin will have lost the end game badly. Its a slow process. None of us are going to see the end to it very likely.

      • July 28, 2014 10:20 am

        Well, this is a matter of perspective, I guess. I can’t say for certain how immoral or clueless the sum total of diplomats are. I look at results and candidly, I doubt you can defend the results of this administration. If you want to, well have at it.

        I will say this. The problems are so “complex” is just a dodge in my opinion. If I am paid to meddle, I will be a meddler. I am paid to leave things alone for a bit, I will do that.

        This administration has de-stabilized everything they have touched in the past 6 yrs. If you want to deny that, well have at it. In other words, where are the diplomatic victories? Egypt, Libya, North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Gaza, Ukraine. I could go on, but that would be piling on, no?

        Now, you can chat all you want about how smart diplomats are at “chess!” However, we are not paying them to play chess are we? I think we pay them to tamp down conflict. How they do in that arena is what matters, not what college they attended or how high their IQ is.

        I don’t think it is being “cynical” to look around the world right now and give the UN and nation’s diplomats a failing grade. However, you want to defend them, by all means, you can.

        It is still a semi-free country.

      • Ron P permalink
        July 28, 2014 11:53 am

        JB..I suspect you may not agree with this statement and we can debate that in the future. You make the comment that many areas of the world have been de-stabilized over the past 6 years due to our inept government.

        I offer that many of these countries would not be in the mess they are in had Bush left Hussian in power in Iraq and confined him as we had for 10 years prior to the second Iraq invasion. Iran is one of the countries that is funding and supporting much of the unrest in the middle east. When Hussian was in power, they had to focus on their neighbor as they were enemies. Now they are allied to support their form of Islam and trying to destabilize the rest of the middle east to spread their influence to gain control of the region. once they gain that, they have more control of the world energy and the west has less control on their nuclear endeavors. “You cut off our nukes, we cut off your gas!”

        I could be 100% off target, but what I see now are some governments destabilzed by a desire for more democracy, but when that comes, the general public is unwilling to fight for that democracy, leaving a vacuum that is being filled by radicals that are willing to die for what they beleive in. The few short years of a more democratic form of government in Iraq led to some in the region seeing those benefits, thus causing leaders in the region to be overthrown and removed from office. The weak support for new democratic governments opened up the countries for a different strong man. “Radical Islam”

      • July 28, 2014 1:41 pm

        You may be right on the issue of Iraq. I guess we will never know. Clearly, dislodging certain “tyrants” has not proven to particularly fruitful in the mid-east, certainly in the short run. That said, the buck stops with Obama (as long as is drawing the paycheck) and I hardly would write him a job reference at this point in his tenure.

      • Ron P permalink
        July 28, 2014 5:08 pm

        JB..if I were running a business, even a small diner in a one stop light town and any politician from Washington came in and asked for a job, I would be reluctant to hire them. Thus, I would be relectant to write any one of them a job reference as I would not want any of my friends to get stuck with them.

      • July 28, 2014 5:50 pm


    • Roby L permalink
      July 28, 2014 9:57 am

      Priscilla, whenever I argue with people face to face about this, mostly Russians, they always raise the issue right away of bad US behavior. I always give them that point, we shot down an Iranian passenger liner with 300 casualties we invaded Panama over next to nothing and left hundreds of civilians dead, and on and on. It is the strength of our system the we US citizens know these things and can act on that knowledge that places us far ahead of the Authoritarian governments of the world that are based lying with every breath and no input from citizens on policy. I treasure my right to be angry about our obvious mistakes. The US acts in places all over the world in our world cop role and we make some awful mistakes. Russia acts most of all at its borders for purely selfish motives. Ukraine is most of all about the threat to Putin of having an actual democracy on his border built on his own Slavic culture. I don’t have to mitigate my criticisms of US policy in order to be appalled by Putin. I find that this is a powerful argument when I debate this with Russians, they expect me to deny my government’s faults as they are programmed to do, instead I just take the carpet out from under them by admitting them and showing them the strength of being able to criticize my own country. Self criticism is a strength not a weakness as Putin’s worldview believes.

      Innocent people are obviously just as dead when they are killed a democracy as when killed by an authoritarian government, but it matters to the future which model triumphs.

      • July 28, 2014 10:23 am

        As you have pointed out, killing people in the pursuit of democracy is not exactly a great bargain. Moreover, when I talk with foreign nationals, they don’t buy it in the slightest. To them, the US IS pursuing its selfish interests, just like Russia.

        I am not saying that is actually true, but perception is reality to most folks, so however we are proceeding is not working. Again, we are back to the diplomats.

    • Ron P permalink
      July 28, 2014 12:23 pm

      Priscilla, since I idenfy closely with the positions of the Libertarian party, I would like to make a comment or two.

      First non-intervention is not isolationism. We can support a position where the US is involved with actions taken in Ukraine, but do we need to be the leader in all of those actions. If Russia is trying to eliminate a democratic form of government in Ukraine, why is it not as important to Germany, France and Italy to insure that form of government prospers as it is for the US. It would seem to me they should be more concerned about their eastern neighbor than the US is since they had to be bailed out of a dictator form of government by the US not so long ago. Many are still alive today that were party to that war.

      As JB so cleary states, Obama and Kerry are inept in foreign policy. I am going to crack the door and ask what were the odds of succeeding in any foreign policy dispute that has occurred. (Leave Benghazi out as that is not a “dispute” in my mind, it is a result of something much larger began in the early 2000’s). What are the odds that some positive outcome would happen if the US did lead on Ukraine?

      I offer the odds are small given the diverse interest of the EU and how anything we do would impact their comfort. Just like the US, politicians are elected in the EU countries. Just like the US, politicians are elected based on the popularity, not ability. So if those politicians make decisions that make living comforts in the EU less desirable for a few months then their popularity declines, they loose their jobs and their careers go down the drain.

      We lead, the EU rejects our ideas, Kerry is inept and Obama is viewed as a weak leader around the world.

      The odds of the US getting Hamas and Israel to a cease fire is better than our odds of getting the EU to do anything and those odds are not good either.

  41. Roby L permalink
    July 28, 2014 11:56 am

    JB, you have had a caustic view of simply every western party you have mentioned. You had at the Canadians the other day, fact free, just based on your instinct it seems. “But I am sure that Canadian intelligence is likely about as competent and moral as ours.” I could find other comments to cut and paste but that is the gist of your opinion on western diplomacy. As well, faced with having no kind of factual evidence of any substantial US involvement in Ukraine you fell back on your opinion that our intelligence people are always screwing things up so why would anyone expect it to be different in Ukraine. Much as you love to pour acid on anything involved with Obama your comments on foreign policy seem to be directed at the US and the West in general going far back. OK, so in your opinion Western foreign policy and diplomatic people are all incompetent. Its a silly opinion but I can live with you and other libertarians having it and sharing it with the far lefties. Its not having any influence on my world.

    Foreign policy problems really are hard and have only bad and worse solutions, your opinion nothwithstanding. Study just one foreign policy issue in great depth and then report back on the clearly winning and easily implementable diplomatic solution. The conflicting interests of dozens of nations and their citizens are involved in every major problem and you think that finding answers is just a matter of some simple foreign policy that anyone could understand? Please. You are playing checkers with grandpa where hyper chess with grandmasters is the game. The simple answer that Libertarians and far lefties are aching for is basically US isolationism or something close to it. Isolationism was a strong influence at two periods in the 20th century, with disastrous results. I’ll take the present devil over that one, it was a larger failure than anything you have listed.

    • July 28, 2014 1:48 pm

      You don’t need to insult me because you disagree with me. I have my opinions based on my life experience, and you have yours.

      The results are there for all to see. If you want to chalk it up to it “being hard” you are free to do so. I see if differently. I have seen a lifetime of foreign meddling (remember Viet Nam?) and so far, not much in the way of conflict resolution to show for it Perhaps it isn’t possible? Who knows, but we can count up the number of dead soldiers, can’t we? Is it worth it?

      I don’t know. Perhaps we can ask the survivors of those dead soldiers what they think?

      As for being called “isolationist” its just another name, like racist, xenophobe, etc. It is a great way to deal with points of view that one does not like.

      Let’s be fair. I pay the salaries of the “diplomats, intelligence officers, and law makers'” of the US. I am more than disappointed with what I see and since this is still a semi-free country, I feel free to criticize.

      If you are happy with them, I am happy for you.

    • Roby L permalink
      July 28, 2014 2:17 pm

      JB, I do not mean to insult you at all. If you are going to take isolationist as an insult, then I think you are trying pretty hard to be insulted. Ron did a good job of explaining his position on that issue, you have not, other than to disagree with everything we or the west do and insult the people who do it directly. Since I am not them, I am not insulted, but its not making you very credible either. The perpetual nasty words you throw at our State dept etc. people have at least the same effect on me that my use of the, I thought, rather innocuous word “fail”, has on you. Which is not meant as an insult, really.

      On music we can agree, on foreign policy, I admire that you do sincerely consider morality in foreign policy but other than that we are living in two different universes on this one and I am sure that is fine with both of us.

  42. Roby L permalink
    July 28, 2014 12:09 pm

    Ron, no room to reply above so I go to the bottom.

    Your idea on this is very reasonable and spot on. In fact, when I took a class on the middle east in college 30 years ago taught by a brilliant man, a former US diplomat, one of the main points that came out was that Israel was greatly helped by the fact that every strong arab leader would habitually go to war with other arab countries to be known as the leader of the arab world, going back at least to Nasser. Hussein was no exception, and we took him out, greatly complicating things including Israel’s situation. You have given a very strong reason for history to regard that (Iraq) war as a huge mistake and I think you are right on about it, as well as your take on the arab spring. Its a complicated mess with no obvious solution. Its going to work itself out slowly and the consequences are not likely to be good for the Western world.

  43. Roby L permalink
    July 28, 2014 5:22 pm

    I guess Ron that I would like to know how you see the differences between non-intervention and isolationism. My quickie online definition of isolationism is: “a policy of remaining apart from the affairs or interests of other groups, especially the political affairs of other countries.” Is it really possible to be a part of the political affairs and not intervene? In what way would one not intervene participate only through trade? Even then not intervening would be tough. Non intervention is the policy that the Chinese have favored, to the point of letting North Korea make life very difficult for the Chinese.

    I do not think that non-intervention really has much of a difference from isolationism in foreign policy, but I would be interested to hear your take on what a non-interventionist US foreign policy would look like and what kind of world you believe would result from it.

    • July 28, 2014 5:54 pm

      I can think of any number of countries that do not “intervene” in way that the US does and they seem to do fine.

      Switzerland, all the Scandinavian countries. Australia, Canada. Japan, as well.

      This is not to suggest that they don’t participate in the world stage, but they don’t take the lead in any way like the US.

      I never suggested the US has no role overseas, simply that we seem to be the busybody of the world and it hasn’t appeared to help all that much.

      How many soldiers did we lose in Vietnam before we lost Vietnam? I think it was 55,000. That is a lot of fathers and husbands who did not make it home.

    • Priscilla permalink
      July 28, 2014 9:02 pm

      Well, the short answer to Roby’s question is “no, it is not possible to be involved in political affairs and not intervene.” If you are Switzerland, maybe.

      Isolationism is essentially seclusion and non-participation. Non-intervention is a policy of staying neutral in a specific situation or area of the world and/or declaring that we will stay out of another country’s affairs because it does not involve us.

      I think that we can set policies of non-intervention in specific and short term scenarios – and we’d probably be wise to do that more often – but strict non-intervention as an overall policy is pretty much the same as isolationism. For the US, it’s not a real world solution to anything, no matter how much we wish it to be.

      • July 28, 2014 9:50 pm

        I think the answer is that we can, and should (IMHO) be WAY more selective in where we “intervene.” Most times, it appears we cause as much harm as good.

      • Ron P permalink
        July 28, 2014 11:17 pm

        How right you are. Just look at what happened with the proposed cease fire made by Kerry. USA not in good standing with that one.

        About time for the UN to step forward and do its job. That’s what it is there for, but is useless now.

      • Priscilla permalink
        July 28, 2014 10:08 pm

        I don’t disagree, JB. I remember when Bush ran against nation building in 2000…. I wish he had stayed that way. On the other hand, it’s important to remember how differently we saw things in the years right after 9-11.

        I just finished reading Victor David Hanson’s latest column. I really like his historian’s perspective on events. This was the takeaway quote for me:

        “Our generation’s version of the bad memories of the 1918 Meuse-Argonne Offensive is Iraq and Afghanistan. Like our grandparents of the 1930s, we feel that the dead lost abroad in the most recent wars were not worth it — and so ignore the gathering war clouds on the present horizon, as if ignoring them means they must disappear.”

      • Ron P permalink
        July 28, 2014 11:25 pm

        Priscilla, we can avoid pending wars that may impact us directly by doing the same thing Reagan did. A strong military and policies that reflect strength.

        But in todays environment, how can we be the leader in all the regional wars taking place? Is it not time that the regional powers take the lead? Not that I support Kerry,but how much can one state department be spread and make a positive outcome in each conflict?

      • July 29, 2014 7:50 am

        I do like Victor’s work. That said, there is an expression that goes something like “some folks are always fighting the last war over again.” I think it is dangerous to always see WW2 staring us in the face and react. Yet, there are lessons we can take from WW2.

        For example, as Hitler moved on, France and the UK sat on their ass and did nothing. Worse, in France’s case, they spend the years between WWs drilling pacifism into their children. No wonder they put up no defense when the Nazi’s arrived. They had already given up.

        I think warfare has progressed a bit since WW2. I hope our thinking can keep pace.

      • Priscilla permalink
        July 28, 2014 11:40 pm

        We cannot and should not be the leader in all of the regional wars. John Kerry either doesn’t get that at all, or cannot distinguish between a regional conflict and one that has international ramifications. But then, Kerry is a moron.

    • Ron P permalink
      July 28, 2014 11:02 pm

      Roby, I guess where I see a difference between isolationism and nonintervention is isolationism is the complete withdrawel of a nation from the affairs of other nations, whereas nonintervention is the avoidance of military involvement with other countries.

      We can not isolate ourselves with what is happening around the world. We can be non-terventionalist in affairs of other nations. That is my position on the Ukraine issue up to a point.

      While true non intervention may require a complete absence of anything in the way of military support, I have said that there are levels of military support I would be infavor of based on the information I have right now. What it does not include is boots on the ground. And I do not think we should intervene into the flight downing. That is an European country issue and we can support their sanctions,but I think we should not be outfront where we look bad when the EU will not go along.

      • Priscilla permalink
        July 28, 2014 11:14 pm

        Ron, I think I agree with you here. My question would be – do you think that the EU would be more proactive if they trusted that the US would back them up? Because I think that this whole “leading from behind” crap is part of what discourages our allies from stepping up. We do look bad when they don’t go along….but, often, they don’t go along, because they are not certain of our support.

      • Ron P permalink
        July 28, 2014 11:36 pm

        Priscilla, yes I think this leading from behind has had a negative impact. But again I question the resolve of the Europeans when it comes to “comfort”. I don’t think the current policy has one thing to do with their reluctance to do anything with Russia and the shooting down of that plane. They have demonstrated a backbone few times in history other than when they had dictators.

        And again I think that terminology may have been the wrong words to use. That’s where I question just how many conflicts can we be the leader in solutions.

        And when we are as inept (Cease fire proposal 7/27) as we are,aybe being “behind is where we belong.

      • July 29, 2014 7:54 am

        I think it is actually pretty straightforward. When the EU creates a military (or its largest states do) then people like Putin will respect them. The EU is either going to be a real entity or just a smaller version of the UN.

        If the EU knows that we will always be their “big brother” and come in and kick the bullies butts, then they will continue to take the path of least cost, to them.

        More is the pity if we allow them to do that. We have an invasion taking place right now that we are not dealing with in the slightest.

        Anyone speak Spanish here?

      • Ron P permalink
        July 29, 2014 1:41 pm

        JB..I made the same comment in a former post concerning the EU creating a military and reliance on the US. To reiterate, the US spends over $2100 per citizen on military spending. Israel is next at just over $1800. The US spends that much since we are the worlds policeman. Israel spends that much since they are constantly protecting themselves from radicals.

        France, on the other hand spends, $977. The UK spends $940, Italy spends $593 and Germany $558. (2009 figures from Stockholm Intenational Peace Research Institute). They spend this much since the rely on the US for protection.

        I agree, until they step up they will expect the US to be “big brother”. It’s time, like you said, for them to step up and defend themselves.

      • Priscilla permalink
        July 28, 2014 11:46 pm

        That ceasefire proposal was a horror. As I read somewhere, the Israeli cabinet has never voted unanimously that the sun rises in the east…but Kerry united them against a US proposal. But, “behind” is not where we belong…..unfortunately, it is where we are.

  44. July 29, 2014 7:57 am

    One only has to stroll the streets of Paris, sit and talk with Parisians (when they are willing to talk to Yanks) and you can tell that the French are not going to take on stand on anything that costs them any discomforts.

    They are willing to sit in the coffee house and criticize everyone else. No one can meet their standards, so all are fair game.

    Same as it ever was. If they want Putin to stay out of the Ukraine, perhaps they can put their money where their mouths are, always flapping.

    • Roby L permalink
      July 29, 2014 1:27 pm

      Imagine it was followed by the headline, “Obama accepts Israel’s offer, all US aid to cease forever tomorrow. US position in the middle east becomes much lighter and less expensive.” Tongue and cheek, but you get the idea.

      Sorry, I am not going to join the Obama and Kerry are complete twits chorus on this issue, this is hellaciously difficult, nothing the US can do is correct. I throw that floor open to suggestions about the very specific actions the US should take in Israel and I can be 100% certain that I will not hear a concrete and realistic answer.

      • Ron P permalink
        July 29, 2014 1:51 pm

        Here again the world is looking to the US for answers and in this situation there are no acceptible answers at the current time. In this case I would suggest the UN step up and be the chief negotiator between the parties. If anyone needs egg on their face, let the UN be the party since that is what they were created for. They have allowed the US to become the “chief negotiator” in any conflict.

        Obama and Kerry can propose different solutions and few of them will stick. maybe a 24 hour cease fire here and there, but HAMAS is not going to stop until the Jews are eliminated. And when Hamas would like to see the US eliminated after the Jews, what chance does the “chief negotiator” have to come up with a good result?

      • Priscilla permalink
        July 29, 2014 1:51 pm

        I disagree on that point. The US should support Israel’s right to defend itself, and stand firmly against Hamas, which by our own designation is a terrorist organization. Presenting terms of a ceasefire that incorporate terrorist demands and pressuring an ally to accept them is pretty unrealistic.

      • Priscilla permalink
        July 29, 2014 1:53 pm

        Oops, I was replying to Roby, and Ron’s reply got in first. Anyway, I don’t know that I trust the UN to be fair. Egypt seemed to be doing OK , until we got involved.

      • July 29, 2014 2:13 pm

        If Obama showed a smidge of concern for “the other side” I would faint dead away. I am pretty clear how contemptuous he is off anyone other than his own. When he was elected, I had a glimmer of hope that he would at least govern towards the middle.

        No such luck. He has demonized his opposition from day 1. He got in return what he gave.

        Remember the phrase: Hey, we won!

        I do.

      • Roby L permalink
        July 29, 2014 2:31 pm

        Priscilla, if we take a 100% pro Israeli position then we lose any ability to be a mediator in the future. If it is bad for Assad to kill civilians when fighting an uprising, then it can be argued that is bad for Israel to do so, although I am sure they take much more care to avoid that than Assad does. The US has to work with both sides to end this situation to retain any credibility. Who can one engage in peace talks or even a truce with? Only one’s enemies. The US has to maintain some level of independence from Israel and cannot just ignore the civilian casualties on either side. As to terrorists, Menachem Begin himself was a terrorist who was involved in attacks on the British. “Begin ordered the bombing of the British administrative and military headquarters at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, in 1946.” 91 people died. He was involved in other actions as well but was respectable enough to become the founder of Likud and the Prime Minister of Israel and have warm ties with the US.

        Believe me, we have loved ones in Israel who we see nearly every day on Skype and worry for them, I am not lacking in anger with the idiots firing missiles at them.

      • July 29, 2014 3:15 pm

        One continues to wonder why the UN exists if not to mediate conflicts. How has that been working for anyone lately?

        Mostly, they seem to just pontificate and hold meetings, dinners, and conferences.

      • Priscilla permalink
        July 29, 2014 3:00 pm

        I do get that the US cannot be a mediator if it is 100% on the side of Israel. But, when Gaza elected a terrorist organization as its government, it gave up, in my opinion, the right to have the US remain open its demands.

        I don’t think that the US should be a mediator in this war, and I think that Hamas should be defeated militarily and be forced to surrender. We should not save them to fight another day.

        That’s not to say that Hamas would not be replaced by something worse – or even that Israel has the will to finish them off…..but, in this situation, I don’t see American intervention as helpful to Israel.

  45. Roby L permalink
    July 29, 2014 1:14 pm

    Priscilla, Moron is one of my hot button words. I never called W a moron and always strenuously objected when others did. Moron is one of those internet words that are depressing and take a conversation nowhere but down. No Moron could ever have caused so much destruction as W did and his administration, although Powell and Condi were certainly not morons either. I don’t think all the nasty names that get thrown around really clarify anything.

    I see many attempts to put a good US foreign policy into words here, but the contradictions and vague generalities are everywhere. We should be strong and send strong messages. Sounds good but that translates into large military spending and showing the resolve to use our forces. I guess that going into Pakistan with Seals in helicopters to take out Bin Ladin showed resolve, didn’t it? As well as invading Iraq. Anyone for a big military budget here? Ron makes a lot of very good points about how difficult this is, even if he is leading in a direction with that that I don’t agree with, non-involvement. I agree with Priscilla, fine for say, Costa Rica, not possible for the US today.

    Walter Russel Meade wrote a very interesting book on American foreign policy, “Special Providence.” I recommend it as background to American foreign policy, the positions of different political philosophies on US foreign policy, and some insight into how America landed the unwanted and miserable world cop job. The first book of Churchill’s series on WWII also has a lot about the shifting balance of power in Europe that led to perpetual warfare between shifting alliances. Eventually many came to the conclusion that they were miserably bad at keeping the peace through shifting alliances and a balance of power between the most powerful nations and following WWII they begged us the new largest power to help them. Since we had defeated the Nazis at the cost of empowering the Stalin, Mao, and the Commies, we were in for a lot of miserable work keeping Uncle Joe et al. contained. When his system finally seemed to have died some declared that history was over, but Radical Islam had other ideas. Now Putin has gotten such a grip on power that he is creating USSR II. History does not end. War is a stupid uncivilized abomination and is the worst of all the alternatives, except for all the rest, it seems, other than vague imaginary scenarios in which the bad guys see reason through some unknown and never before seen really great diplomacy.

    • Priscilla permalink
      July 29, 2014 1:35 pm

      I very rarely use those hot-button words, Roby, and upon reflection, I am sorry that I used it this time.

      W. was called a moron – and worse- all the time. And, while I agree that our current foreign policy chaos is largely in reaction to decisions and events that occurred during the Bush administration, I do believe that Bush and Powell and Rice were acting in what they believed to be the best interests of the US. The Road To Hell really is paved with good intentions…. (Jimmy Carter went pretty far down that Road, too)

      Kerry seems to be acting out of some sort of willful blindness to anything other than what will make him look good….and, to me, that sort of hubris is even worse than the above.

      But, in any case, I do agree that words like “idiot” and “moron” are pointless and inflammatory. :: hangs head in shame:: My bad.

      • Roby L permalink
        July 29, 2014 1:48 pm

        Priscilla, I knew you would have the decency to own up. My Own behavior has not always been pretty, or to be clear has been ugly more than a few times. We are human. Its OK.

        The larger point is that if Obama or Kerry were to suddenly do something utterly brilliant it would be hammered by the loyal opposition. Obama has sucked at bringing us together, I agree with JB that he is divisive, but he has had a great deal of company. Americans pulling together is a dream of mine and I’m sure yours as well.

      • Priscilla permalink
        July 29, 2014 1:57 pm

        Agreed on that. Hammering the other side has become a priority of the highest order.

      • July 29, 2014 2:14 pm

        I spent 25 yrs. in Massachusetts. I can say with authority that Kerry is a moron. Sorry if that offends you.

      • Priscilla permalink
        July 29, 2014 3:02 pm

        I KNEW you were thinking that, JB, haha! I just wasn’t sure you would say so.

      • July 29, 2014 3:20 pm

        Hey, Priscilla, what can I say. We are from Jersey, you can’t get it out of your blood.

    • Ron P permalink
      July 29, 2014 2:14 pm

      Roby, reply to your comment “Ron makes a lot of very good points about how difficult this is, even if he is leading in a direction with that that I don’t agree with, non-involvement.”

      I want to clarify my position. I am going to base this on fictional characterzation of an early western settlement. A number of families live in an area for a number of years where the indians are still fighting the settlers and trying to drive them out. Mr Smith owns the largest parcel of land, while 20 other settlers own smaller properties. Mr. Smith has purchased large qualtities of rifles and ammunition to protect his property, while the other settlers have done little in the way of protecting their property. The question I have is, Does Smith go to his neighbors and use his ammunition to protect them when they will not do it themselves or does Smith tell his neighbors he will help them defend their property only after they spend some money on ammunition to protect themselves?

      That may be a corny example, but it demonstrates what is happening in the world today. The US is Mr. Smith and the EU is the property owners that will not spend any money to protect themselves.

      I do not believe in total non-intervention. I do not believe in isolationism. What I believe in is countries of the world steping forward and building systems where others are not willing to take aggressive action against you or your friends. And when they do they pay the price. Much like Israel does.

      If the EU were not like the property owners in my example, then the US would not have to be Mr. Smith and Russia would not be the indians trying to capture territory the is not theirs.

      • dhlii permalink
        July 29, 2014 7:04 pm

        I am not sure that the west and indians is the best analogy.

        Past that choices are not binary.

        Had the US stayed out of the internal squables in the Ukraine it would be in a better position to tell Russia not to intervene.

        There is also a big difference between stepping into a civil war, engaging in assasination, propping up dictators, fomenting coups,

        and intervening in actual aggression between nations.

        We do not belong meddling in other nations affairs, We are abysmal at it.
        We should take George Washington’s advice and stick to our own business.

        But when nations initiate violence against other nations it is in our interest to forestall agression

  46. Roby L permalink
    July 29, 2014 2:44 pm

    “I can say with authority that Kerry is a moron.” That may make you feel better but it does not make you appear better. Not to beat a dead horse but if “fail” is an offensive word, what is moron? Why use it?

    OK, I have become again obsessive in my posting, I’m going to hit the hibernate choice in WIndows and walk away from the screen. See you all tomorrow and lets hope it brings better news!

    • July 29, 2014 3:19 pm

      It doesn’t make me feel better. I would feel better if we had someone who could run State without sticking his foot in his mouth every couple of days. The guy is an embarrassment and I think we all know it.

      As for appearing better, I am way to old to worry about appearances. If you do, that is your issue, not mine.

      My reference about “fail” was not that I was offended by the term. It simply seems like a phrase that is used by 17 yr. olds on Twitter and as such, it seemed out of place in adult settings.

      KInd of like posting LOL or some such nonsense.

  47. Ron P permalink
    July 29, 2014 7:11 pm

    Well here you go.

    We heard today from our news media (Fox on my end) that the EU had entered into new sanctions including the French military deal and German industries. Then the US president marched out and told us what additional sanctions the US was putting on Russia.

    Now the telegraph gives us , as Paul Harvey would say “the rest of the story”.

    Heaven forbid the French or Germans do anything that would impact any of their economy!!

    And some wonder why I say let the EU handle the problem.

    As more comes out, I will bet that what the EU has really done is slap Russias hand and said “bad boy”. And what does the USA end up looking like when we can’t get them to support anything of substance.

    • July 29, 2014 9:55 pm

      Color me, not surprised. Cynicism wins. again. Wish I was wrong, but not surprised that I was right.

      Back to you, Roby.

    • Priscilla permalink
      July 29, 2014 10:38 pm

      Our friends don’t respect us, and our enemies don’t fear us.

      • July 30, 2014 7:50 am

        Walk softly and carry a big stick. In high school, it was the quiet ones you had to watch out for.

  48. Roby L permalink
    July 30, 2014 8:22 am

    From the WSJ. Seems pretty real and coordinated from where I sit.

    “The trade and investment restrictions that EU governments, after much agonizing, agreed upon mark a major escalation of sanctions against Russia, which so far have been mostly token measures targeting individuals. New measures hitting Russia’s banks, oil industry and military could increase financial strains in its already sluggish economy while withholding technology that the nation’s modernization relies on.”

    • July 30, 2014 8:40 am

      As a wise man once said: “We’ll see.” The costs are in the future, the political benefits are now. Besides, Putin has the next move.

      • Ron P permalink
        July 30, 2014 11:33 am

        JB, I am not smart enough to do it myself, but I sure would like to see someone explain to me the differences in the Wall Street article, the BBC reports and those of the Telegraph from the UK. One report talks of the sanctions hitting financial, defense and technology. The other states that the French defense contract can go forward and hands off the German technology industry.

        Kind of sounds like our media in the US when MSNBC reports something and Fox reports the same thing, but totally different.

      • July 30, 2014 11:59 am

        Yes. My grandfather’s favorite quote: “Don’t listen to what people say, watch what they do!”

        My GF was a very wise old German!

  49. Roby L permalink
    July 30, 2014 8:26 am

    More frequent and prominent critics are saying that Mr. Putin and the hard-line leaders in the Kremlin overreached by suggesting that Russia, far more dependent than the old Soviet Union on international trade and financial markets, could thrive without the West.

    “They were not anticipating the West to make radical moves, costly moves,” said Nikolai Petrov, an independent political analyst. “What is happening is different from what they wanted and what they expected.”

    • July 30, 2014 8:46 am

      I have watched with amusement as the liberal media have decided the cold war is back on and Putin is the new Hitler. Fascinating, but there was a void, so understandable.
      When everyone is piling on, and the “consensus” is we have found the new bad guy, I will be happy to wait and watch.

      As ISIS, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, Boko Harum march across the world, chopping off heads and killing women and children, the leftist media wrings their hands over Ukraine. Seriously?

      And, then, their is the invasion on our Southern Border. My, but we love our diversions, even here. When the Honduran children who cannot write or read IN SPANISH, let alone English, appear in your town, how might you handle that? I don’t think Common Core applies here. do you?

      To reiterate, on my radar screen, Ukraine doesn’t even appear. I think there are much larger fish to fry (like a nuclear mullah in Iran?).

      • Roby L permalink
        July 30, 2014 8:58 am

        The “leftist media” and Priscilla (and many, many not exactly wildly liberal people like her). Is she one of them?

        Whereas an actual leftist in the flesh showed up here, you guys agreed wholeheartedly on this issue and exchanged congrats and right ons, whereas I had at him. A weird, weird world sometimes.

      • July 30, 2014 10:28 am

        I think it is fair to say that the vast majority of media participants consider themselves liberal and vote democratic. There a several well know surveys on this issue.

  50. Roby L permalink
    July 30, 2014 8:31 am

    Its the easiest thing in the world to say that things suck, capitalism, the government, our allies, etc. Anyone can do it with minimal effort. Coming up with some kind of balanced objective opinion takes far, far more effort. I suppose that the main use of blogs is venting and negativity, but its not the only possible use.

    • July 30, 2014 8:48 am

      Personally, I have made any number of suggestions to “improve things.” You just don’t like my suggestions, so that is kind of your problem, not mine.

      Happily, no politician would listen to either of us, so it matters not.

    • Priscilla permalink
      July 30, 2014 9:02 am

      One of the things that makes this comment section interesting is that the people who want to say “everything sucks,” usually make their point (?) and disappear until Rick’s next post.

      The “regulars,” while as whiny as might be expected from a bunch of political junkies are also as full of theories, solutions and ideas as would be expected from such a group. So, I don’t see at all the kind of mindless venting that you are seeing, Roby.

      • Roby L permalink
        July 30, 2014 9:30 am

        Priscilla, I am going to have to disagree (in other words I am performing a variant of “this sucks,” I see the irony.) I don’t have time for a line by line analysis, but the negativity is here in a far higher ratio than anything positive, and quite often the negativity is really acidic.

        We are not as futile in the USA as the comments here usually suggest. We pushed back and more or less defeated Uncle Joe, Mao, et al. Communism still exists but is a spent force on a large revolutionary scale, not so when I was born. How about a hand for the good old USA? WWII was due several decades ago, we seem to have managed to avoid it via nuclear deterrence and our willingness not to let cancers grow before we address them, in contrast to the 1930s. We brought Osama to justice and gave the taliban a good wallop. They fear us I think. Its not in them to fade away but they fear us unless they are stupid. We are fighting radical Islam, just as JB wishes, and we will see, I think we will prevail in the long run.

        We achieve quite a bit through our meddling actually (I suspect you agree with me on this as you and I have about the same notion of the appropriate US place in the world and we would not have that idea if all the US ever did was fail) but no one wants to note it.

        The News really means the bad news and blogs mean criticism, and what I would call highly objective criticism would be welcome in larger proportion.

      • July 30, 2014 10:40 am

        I love the US and it is by far the only place I want to live. It has a wonderful, and imperfect history that we should be proud of (with some exceptions). My dad spent 5 yrs in WW2 fighting to keep the world free. The best thing he every accomplished in his life, IMHO.

        I would suggest that just because some “meddling” in the past has appeared to work (the fall of the USSR) we might be a bit cautious on the whole cause and effect dynamic. There are plenty who believe the fall of the USSR was inevitable tied to its inability to deliver any acceptable standard of living under the communist economic system (no surprise there).

        So, while the benefits of meddling are debatable, the costs are not. Human life is actually precious to me and I find many pols who seem to consider young American military lives as expendable tied to a higher purpose of some sort.

        Really? Well, I feel more than free to disagree and to try and convince others to similarly disagree. All resources (human and economic) are limited and can’t be used for two purposes at the same time. Resources diverted are resources lost.

        Does that make me a bad guy, an isolationist, a xenophobe? OK, fine.

        So, be it.

        Now, back to the southern border, or lack thereof.

        Ukraine and Putin? To me, very low priority.

        Feel free to disagree and get ready to learn Spanish.

      • July 30, 2014 10:30 am

        Usually, a person sees what they want to see. It takes effort to search beyond that.
        I include all of us in that boat. Some simply are better at it than others.

  51. July 30, 2014 8:49 am

    For the record, I have never suggested that capitalism sucks (it doesn’t) but crony capitalism certainly does.

    • Roby L permalink
      July 30, 2014 10:51 am

      JB, your ideas on foreign policy are based on an appeal to both common sense and common decency, my favorite qualities. I don’t call you a xenophobe, who has? Long ago I said that Everyone has a xenophobic element to them, fear of the different, but that is a general comment and not an attack on you. The US has inherited certain responsibilities due to our strength, size, history, location. We are both appealing to common sense and common decency and just have a different outcome when we do the thought experiment where the US takes a far less active role in the world. You see a better world in that case, I see a worse one. I see that the US has actually achieved tremendous things by our painful efforts (and the pain has been inflicted on innocent, say, Panamanians or Afghans as well) and I see that we cannot just retreat and declare that we suck at interfering. By all means we could do it better and more selectively.

      • July 30, 2014 10:56 am

        I agree. Selectivity would be great and I am all for it. And, I am clear you did not call me any names. I appreciate that about you, and others here on Rick’s blog.

      • Roby L permalink
        July 30, 2014 11:02 am

        I dunno if its a good analogy, but relatively speaking the Cubs have sucked at baseball for nearly 100 years but they don’t just declare that they suck and disband. They have also won thousands of games. The US is doing better than the Cubs I think and no other country is batting .600 either. There is a game, its called international life, and we play as best we can.

      • July 30, 2014 11:07 am

        I agree. That said, I don’t think our so-called Leaders have been playing at the Cubs level of late.

        It could be my age, but this current admin seem like amateur hour. I had more faith in people like Powell and C. Rice. Even Rumsfeld seemed to be competent compared to Chuck Hagel.

        Chuck Hagel?


  52. Roby L permalink
    July 30, 2014 11:05 am

    OK, lets all agree on greater wisdom and selectivity, agree to be proud of but still criticize America, and now I can relax and go cut my lawn. Maybe the Cubs will win today.

  53. July 30, 2014 11:08 am

    Go Cubs!

    I had a wonderful afternoon years back attending a Cubs game on a beautiful sunny Saturday. This was in the days before Sosa was juicing and was simply a wonderful natural athlete.

    Ah, that was a day.

  54. Ron P permalink
    July 30, 2014 4:33 pm

    If this does not wake up Germany and France nothing will. Maybe it will convince the Polish people to support their government in allowing a defensive missle system to be installed.

    Roby, note the end of this article where it states Obama wants to further reduce the number of warheads by 1/3rd and he would try to negotiate that with Russia (Putin). If he goes ahead with that and trust Putin to abide by that treaty he IS a MORON.

    Now you may say that 500+ nuclear warheads is enough to eliminate mankind and I agree. But Reagan was not instrumental in the demise of the Soviet Union because he negotiated reductions in military hardware. That was done from a position of strength. Right now that is not happening.

    • Ron P permalink
      July 30, 2014 4:39 pm

      Sorry did not finish the thought.

      But Reagan was not instrumental in the demise of the Soviet Union because he negotiated reductions in military hardware “from a position of weakness.”

    • Roby L permalink
      July 31, 2014 9:08 am

      If Ron Paul (the actual one) were to paint himself green and run down main street in his birthday suit shouting “Oink Oink” then he would be a moron, but it ain’t gonna happen any more than Obama reducing our nukes by 1/3 and just trusting Putin to do the same. In the present environment you can count the idea of further nuke reductions as dead. But if at some point in the future we were to negotiate a reduction treaty that would be a good thing for the reason you mention about having enough weapons to eliminate mankind, which is a thing only a moron would want. 500+ actually is more like 16,000, with about 4,000 being active (we have 1920 active, Russia 1,600, Britain, France and China have smaller numbers in the low hundreds.) There were more like 70,000 warheads at points in the cold war era, reduction effort have occurred under every president, including START under Reagan, the largest such effort.

      Just trusting Putin to eliminate nukes under an agreement (which would have to be ratified by congress, more potential morons?) would be idiotic, but that is not how these things are done, trust is not involved, destruction of warheads is carefully verified by international teams. OK, the verifiers work for governments and we know your low opinion of people in the government, but really if you are going to have nearly zero faith in government people you may as well just dig a deep hole and hide in it since we are doomed under that scenario anyhow. I do not share the bitterly caustic opinion Libertarians seem to nearly uniformly express about the government and people who work in it. If they were that uniformly bad we would all be long dead. We have drastically cut our nukes, in great part due to RR becoming fearful of an accidental nuclear armageddon and convincing his team to negotiate drastic reductions, that is not weakness, its one of the few clear bright spots in the history of the last 30 years and a great tribute to RR that he came around to that idea.

      • Ron P permalink
        July 31, 2014 12:30 pm

        Roby, what one considers causitic opinions may be justifed crticism in another’s mind. 17Trillion in debt and growing. No end in site for continued deficits. Entitlement programs with growing funding problems with no solutions offered. Tax policies that are making movement of company home offices to foreign countries more attractive. Immigration problems where neither side is willing to compromise to fix the border problem and find solutions to issues with current illegal immigrants. Educational systems where American children are falling farther behind the world in cognitive abilities as well as basic math and language skills. Educational systems that fail to prepare students for professions where there is a demand instead of a pre-conceived thought everyone should be taught a college prep course. (ie needs for welders, machinist, tool and die makers, aircraft mechanics, etc)

        I could go on with many other issues that effect our country today and will impact our country much greater in the next 10-20 years, but you may get the point. I believe criticizing the politicians that have allowed and are allowing the problems we have in this country to remain and grow is justified.

        Others may find this “caustic opinion”. I don’t.

      • July 31, 2014 1:14 pm

        Well thought, and fact based, rant. I concur. If you are not pissed about the state of the US today, you are either doing dope, asleep, or a liberal.

        Maybe all three.

  55. July 31, 2014 8:17 am

    This tells you pretty much everything you need to know about Hamas and Israel. Straight from the top:

    • July 31, 2014 8:37 am

      I’m hardly going to defend Hamas. But given that the son is a convert to Christianity, he is hardly an impartial observer.

      • Priscilla permalink
        July 31, 2014 9:24 am

        I’m not sure there are any impartial observers when it comes to Hamas.

        I did read yesterday that Netanyahu has said that the IDF would continue destroying the so-called “terror tunnels” with or without a cease-fire. I think that is a good start. Even Israel’s most vocal critics have not criticized it from destroying the tunnels, and this might begin to turn the ceasefire talks back to something resembling negotiations, rather than simply demands for Israel stop fighting.

      • July 31, 2014 9:34 am

        Better as a sign of how Hamas is to be viewed is this article, which refers to other Muslam leaders:

      • July 31, 2014 1:10 pm

        Do you think he is lying? I doubt it. It is pretty clear cut and if you followed the history of Hamas, entirely consistent with many other accounts of their “attitude.”

      • July 31, 2014 7:09 pm

        I did not say he was lying. He may or may not be. I just would never go to a convert from something for informatuon about that something, because converts are by their nature biased against the thing they converted from. A convert from Islam to Christianity is no more a trustworthy source about an Islamic organization than a member of that organization — would you trust a Hamas officer’s testimony on the same thing? I would prefer to ask either a non-Hamas Muslim or a neutral observer.

      • July 31, 2014 10:10 pm

        Rarely do we find a “neutral observer” with the insight of this man. So, you can choose to ignore him if you wish.

        I will take his warning to heart. There is SO much information to substantiate what he says is true.

  56. Roby L permalink
    July 31, 2014 1:09 pm

    Ron, my great hero Mark Twain had some political opinions that were quite acidic. So why do I enjoy Twain but not enjoy the modern level of political hypercynicism?

    Twain used humor and he was a genius with words. Hyperbole was part of his regular toolkit, whether it was political issues or anything else, he always blew things into a caricature. It even sometimes honestly gets a bit tiresome from Twain and there are times reading his autobiography where I just start to say, bullshit, no one could be so good or so bad as Twain portrays them.

    As well, Twain wrote more than 100 years ago so A, its just history and B, we know we survived his dastardly political villains.

    Finally even Twain had both heros and villains (although I remember some quotes where he just had at everyone in politics in shotgun fashion.)

    Today, we hear a lot of just humorless burning everything to the ground on the subject of government, especially from Libertarians. The world is of course going to hell in a bucket and always has and will be, but who will listen long to the idea that its just everyone in politics or government? Talking about specific people and specific actions is a critical way is criticism, but having at pretty much everyone is just acidic and not constructive. Yeah, Twain did it sometimes but he was a humorist. If Republicans seem to be the party of No, then Libertarians seem to be the philosophy of No, No, No!

    Coming to inspect a property and saying that the roof is sagging and the foundation needs to be fixed is criticism, saying that the whole structure is a POS and needs to be burned down and rebuilt is just hyperbole, if the USA is the house. I’m not saying anyone here has said that in so many words, but there have been plenty of really shotgun criticisms of our government, more than is justified, even today, in my opinion. There are plenty of good people and plenty of things get done right.

    • July 31, 2014 1:21 pm

      I think you are quite candidly, being naïve.

      Illegal Immigration
      THE VA
      The Post Office
      The IRS
      The State Dept. and the lack of a foreign policy
      The EPA
      The EEOC
      The Dept. of Education
      The White House
      The Federal Reserve
      The National Debt
      Social Security Projected shortfalls
      Medicare existing and projected shortfalls.
      Federal Health Policy
      The Attorney General
      Increasing Food Stamp and Welfare rolls
      Long-term unemployed dropping out of the labor market

      I could go on but I would be accused of being “caustic.”

      You head, MAY be in the sand.

      We may be the best country in the world, but we have a load of problems. No one said that we need to burn this thing to the ground and start again. However, it might be time for a nice Congressional housecleaning and an impeachment trial. In that order.

      For starters.

      • Priscilla permalink
        July 31, 2014 1:37 pm

        An impeachment trial is exactly what Obama wants. I find it unbelievably cynical, but I think that the GOP has finally figured out that this is exactly how he suckered them into the shutdown. I think he is bluffing about the executive amnesty order, but even if he is not (and he doesn’t seem to give a rat’s ass anymore about the rule of law, so who knows), impeachment would be a disaster for Republicans.

        Like you and Ron, I am not a big fan of the current Republican leadership, but, until there is a GOP Senate majority and a GOP President, nothing is going to improve.

        Republicans are held to task by the media – for that reason alone, we should all hope that the next administration is GOP. Impeachment at this point would be counterproductive.

      • July 31, 2014 2:03 pm

        I should have been clearer: AFTER the GOP takes the Senate and the House ( I hope) then, it is high time for a trail for this criminal.

      • July 31, 2014 7:13 pm

        Even if (and with you, I hope they do) the GOP takes over the Senate, they will never have 67 votes to convict. There will be at least 40 or more Democrats in the next Senate, and it only takes 34 to stop an impeachment.

      • July 31, 2014 10:11 pm

        You may be correct. I would like to see the trial anyway. If it keeps Obama in check for a da or two, it will be worth it IMHO.

      • Ron P permalink
        July 31, 2014 10:20 pm

        It is amazing what one statement by a nit-wit can do. Palin represents a small percentage of Republicans, but when she speaks, she can say things that a smart political mind can take and use against her party. That is exactly what the democrats have done with the impeachment conversion and made it sound like the whole Republican party favors impeachment. If Ronald Reagan was not impeached for the Iran-Contra affair, I doubt Obama can be impeached for executive orders. But it does make fund raising millions very easy.

        And remember, after the 2014 elections, everything a party does will be aimed at the 2016 election. Who really thinks the congress will spend its time for the next 24 months trying to impeach a president when they have a bigger fish to fry. They need to defeat the Democrat (most likely Hillary) and get their own person in the office.

        The most important thing the next senate will have to do is make sure Obama can not get another far left liberal SCOTUS judge confirmed that will shift the court where it will support all the activist judge’s decisions in the lower courts.

      • August 1, 2014 6:28 am

        >The most important thing the next senate will have to do is make sure Obama can not get >another far left liberal SCOTUS judge confirmed that will shift the court where it will support >all the activist judge’s decisions in the lower courts.

        And how. And that can be done with only 51. It doesn’t need 67. Which is why it’s a much more reachable goal.

      • August 1, 2014 9:26 am

        This is at the top of my list as well.

      • Roby L permalink
        July 31, 2014 1:47 pm

        Very nicely and politely expressed, which I appreciate, but I guess its just philosophical or a matter of temperment. My wife is a big believer in positive thinking and gratitude for all the good things in life, she has done a lot to bring me to her positive thinking point of view. Her glass is nearly always much more than half full.

        Its easy to list the bad, I could start with the fact that my useful years are more behind me than ahead of me, and that I can’t play rocknroll or tennis till I’m 80 in any believable way, but its still a beautiful world full of great people and things, and its no accident that the USA is towards the top, if not at it, in the quality of life department. That could not possibly happen if our political system was as bad as many think these days, or as bad as Mark Twain thought. I disagree with almost everything my Vermont Governor does, and yet life in Vermont is even better than life in the USA (humor intended), go figure. Lots of things go right, we just notice the bad, if we are not careful its easy to obsess about it and believe that bad is overwhelming the good. I look around me and I see it isn’t so.

      • July 31, 2014 2:07 pm

        To be fair, I can’t believe how good my life has turned out (it shouldn’t have) and I thank God for that everyday. I am MUCH more concerned for my child and grandchildren and their life in these United States.

        I think Obama has set this country on a very negative course and it will take many years to right itself.

        He is far worse than I could ever have imagined.

      • Ron P permalink
        July 31, 2014 5:09 pm

        JB you know I am not an Obama supporter, but when you say “I think Obama has set this country on a very negative course and it will take many years to right itself”, I do have to take issue when that comes to the national debt.

        The national debt was already 10.7 trillion before Obama took office. We have added another 6 trillion, of which about 2 trillion was added his first year in office, that being a result of previous economic environments and federal budgets. So he has had direct influence over the difference between $12.3 and $17.5 trillion.

        This country was set on a very negative course years ago when politicians began to understand they could spend money today and let our kids pay for it later. Bush alone added almost 5 trillion, not far off what Obama has added. Just Obama’s will be paid by our grandkids and their kids. But even before that, we already had 5.6 trillion run up. Who was going to pay for that?

        The problem in America today is the voters. We keep electing people to office that promise the moon and when they do not deliver the moon, we elect someone else. Depending on who you are the moon can be welfare for the needy or depletion tax credits for Exxon Mobil.

        Not until a catasthrophy occurs will anything change. We had a wake up call in 2008-9, but most everyone slept through the alarm. Only when something greater than 2008 occurs will the voters wake up and demand things change, like a balanced budget amendment along with entitlement changes. And this most likely will occur for the younger generations to witness.

        Even if one has a very positive idea about the USA and politicians, there is a limit on the amount of debt any country can run up. Right now we just have 500+ politicians with very positive thoughts about the US and how much more they can spend before it becomes a problem.

      • July 31, 2014 10:07 pm

        Yes, clearly, Obama is not the first to ignore economics and debt. I was more referring to his being so divisive and so dishonest with his “vision” for the US.

        In my mind, he is clearly the worst POTUS in my lifetime.

  57. Pat Riot permalink
    July 31, 2014 4:26 pm

    Many excellent comments. A round of applause for intelligent discourse while keeping the hostilities in check! Nonetheless, there’s still no hope, haha. While I think and believe deeply that “labeling” and “name-calling” and other word troubles and communication difficulties are together one of our worst problems as a species, I greatly enjoyed jb’s characterizations of a liberal, and itched to take it further for liberals, conservatives, libertarians, and new moderates.

    One of the questions this thread has meandered to is whether things are good or bad in the US of A, and I say the answer, at least for the immediate right now, can only be this: things are better than ever and worse than ever, AT THE SAME TIME, and depend on who you are and your circumstances, and on what you choose to focus. That’s if we freeze everything, as is, and assess for those who are currently benefitting, those who are suffering, and the gradations in between, and that is difficult even with a freeze button.

    But of course things are heading in a multitude of directions. Can we do an assessment of where the USA is heading? I think we can. I’ve always been a “better to light one candle than curse the darkness” kind of guy, but even when I think I’ve removed all my blinders, and have summoned all of my objectivity, and open-mindedness (and what a mind!), and try to control my narcissism, haha, I must say that the good is happening in increasingly shrinking “pockets” while the bad is overwhelming and gathering momentum. Now is the time for all good persons to come to the aid of their country!

  58. Pat Riot permalink
    July 31, 2014 5:42 pm

    And so we can talk about “quality of life”…One thing I like about Asmith is that he checks his facts and he mines for data rather than just being swept up in rhetoric or public sentiment or hype etc. And so he may right on the money that we have more of such and such good things and less of such and such bad things. But I’m not sure those “things” help us in the long run in the face of the liberties we are losing. My spur of the moment analogy is say 100,000 people on a beach. They have smart phones, fresh fruit in their coolers from various parts of the world, bathing suits from china, longer life-spans, etc etc, but I’m not sure any of that helps them with a tsunami coming in. And there are many real, flesh-and-blood billionaire globalists who do not want U.S. Sovereignty and common people getting in the way of their plans. Some of them sell rockets and bombs and do itch for wars.

    • July 31, 2014 10:08 pm

      Well said. I do think the USA has lost a bit of its soul and its grit since the post WW2 era.

      I am not sure how we get it back, if we do.

  59. Ron P permalink
    July 31, 2014 10:38 pm

    JB you comment “In my mind, he is clearly the worst POTUS in my lifetime” I would say that could be debated by anyone with good information concerning presidents since Nixon. For instance, Nixon allowed the “plumbers” to occupy an office in the White House. He was later impeached over actions that were taken by those same plumbers. He was also dumb enough to tape conversions and not distroy tapes that no one knew about that later led to his demise. We also lived through Carter and his “malaise”.

    Watching historical shows concerning presidents has opened my mind to all the things “illegal” president do and have done. The difference today is the desire of the opponent to bring down anyone in that office. Kennedy had Marilyn visit many times in the White House, but those who knew kept their mouths shut, even those in the media. Fast forward 30+ years and the GOP tried to bring down Clinton for basically the same behavior. Since then, and with Bush’s questionable election in the minds of Democrats (not supported by final votes in the election), both parties are looking for anything to make the opposing president look bad. And with the media and social media we have now, most any president is going to look worse than those when all eyes were not one them.

    And think about this, every president in modern time has used executive orders and that has grwon with each one. Do you really think congress is going to take any action to reign this in when they want their next president to have the same powers. The precedent has been made, so the next president can go another step forward in their executive orders.

    • July 31, 2014 10:54 pm

      We will disagree on this. I will say this. When Congress writes a law, the POTUS should NOT have the authority to change it simply because he wants to.

      That violates the Constitution and that document was drafted with a very clear purpose in mind: No monarchs in the US.

      This applies to all POTUS’ and all parties.

      Sorry, whether it was Reagan or is Obama, the same thing applies. The POTUs executes the law, he/she does not make it.

      This POTUs is a fraud and a pretender that needs to be stopped. The next one might be worse.

    • Roby L permalink
      August 1, 2014 9:44 am

      Bravo! Nearly every president of my life time has been the worst yet according to a large segment of popular opinion and roundly despised by large numbers of the population, except Ford and Bush I. Those two were one and outs precisely because they did not make enough people on the other side hate them to generate a big counter vote to the hysteria. I was too young to remember if Kennedy was roundly despised in the way that Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, Bush II and Obama were.But if he wasn’t its because he did not have enough time. Its a national game, hate the president it has been in effect since before my time.

      How quickly our memories fade. We are always in turmoil but usually convince ourselves that it started with the current administration. I do not know why anyone wants to be president.

      There are always people, commentators, party hacks, etc. making very good livings getting people to believe that this time the world is really ending, all I can say is the best thing for everyone is to try to remain calm and objective and not get caught up in partisan hysteria and let it sour one’s life nearly completely. I realize my message is at cross purposed to my wonderful old buddy Pat Riot, but if the world is really ending only nukes or climate change can really be the culprit. I can’t do a damn thing about the latter, but I do worry about the former considerable.

      • Roby L permalink
        August 1, 2014 9:46 am

        I should have said Bravo Ron! to be clear for his very objective post on bad presidents.

      • August 1, 2014 10:32 am

        Yes, and well, sometimes, “this time, its different” applies. Do you remember a POTUS that made up laws as he went along? Maybe, FDR, but even he got stopped when he tried to stuff the court. Do you think the mass migration of illegals is “just another event that will work itself out?”

        I don’t.

        It is all well and good to believe it will all work out this time. Do you think that this might have been the prevailing mood in the UK and France somewhere around 1938?

        Sometimes, the shit really does hit the fan.

      • Ron P permalink
        August 1, 2014 12:24 pm

        jb..what’s the solution to the president making laws on his own or ignoring them?

        How about congressional action(s) to limit his ability to make executive orders. When he does not act and allows others to break the law, then a bill to tighten the law so others can’t break the law he is allowing them to circumvent.

        Has either arm of congress passed anything on any count I mentioned?

        A law suit is a joke because that only applies to Obama, not the future GOP presidents that may follow.

      • Priscilla permalink
        August 1, 2014 12:34 pm

        I don’t think that the lawsuit is a joke at all, Ron. The last suit, filed over Obama’s recess NLRB appointments resulted in a 9-0 decision against Obama. I think that targeting his lawless actions in the courts and winning is a good way to stop him. It is impossible to pass anything in the Congress, as long as the Senate refuses to even take up bills from the House (Obama may or may not be the worst president, but Harry Reid is undoubtedly the worst majority leader ever), and I don’t think that most people consider Obama’s power grabs to rise to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” so why not handle this in the courts for now?

        That said, I agree that it should rightly be happening in the Congress, but any bill that limits presidential power right now is literally a non-starter.

      • Ron P permalink
        August 1, 2014 5:57 pm

        Wad the NLRB suit brought to court by the congress? I thought this was brought by Noel Canning in Yakima Washington. Was this case just a front for the House since they did not actually suffer damages and did the House actually play the front man other than for the plantiff’s name in the case.

        Whatever the case, my position is we have 500 imcompetent boobs in congress that do nothing but pick up a pay check and worry about what comes next for their party.

        Oh, and they can also spend money.Only thing that happened that I know of that has any importance in this congress is the VA bill and the highway bill. The new VA director is appointed,within 10 days or so he says he needs 17.5 billion to fix the problem along with the ability to fire people. How does a new CEO for any organization come up with the need for 17.5 billion when he or she has not stepped foot into a Va clinic, let alone visit a number of clinics and talk with personnel. What the hell are they doing with the other 160+ billion. Is there any corporation in America that would expect their new CEO to have that information developed before taking over a bankrupt company?

        We know where the highway trust fund goes. Funds from one state needing road work goes to other states for rapid transit systems in another state that won’t increase taxes to pay for it themselves.

        Yes I am being very negative today. Sorry, but when someone is elected to do a job and the voters are so stupid that they keep electing the same people to do nothing, it does make some people very negative toward their government.

      • Priscilla permalink
        August 1, 2014 9:05 pm

        Right you are, Ron. The suit was brought by Noel Canning, the party with standing. He was supported by over 40 senators , including Mitch McConnell, who filed amicus briefs. So, although I have no idea if the GOP provided financial support, I have no doubt that their surrogates did.

        The Obama Care lawsuit has to do with the employer mandate that Obama delayed until 2015…the House contends that it has standing as the branch of Congress which will need to appropriate funds to support the law, now that Obama has unilaterally changed it. Will SCOTUS agree? Who knows? But I think it is worth the shot, even if the House is denied standing, to slow the executive power grab……

      • Ron P permalink
        August 1, 2014 10:38 pm

        Priscilla, the pepsi canning bottling company probably financed this themselves. But support from a party and the party bringing the suit themselves is completely different.

        I have no doubt at all that SCOTUS will find that the president has this power through some vegue interpretation of the law, the same as the “tax/fine” ruling.

      • Priscilla permalink
        August 1, 2014 11:16 pm

        Ron, I was not sure if Noel Canning was a company and a person or just a company! And, certainly, the decision was not entirely a victory for Constitutionalists. Yet, I still think that lawsuits are the best way to challenge presidential overreach right now. After 2014, maybe that will change.

        I have a conservative mindset….that is not to say that I am a “conservative” in the political sense. But, I am a proponent of incremental change and traditional challenge. We may not have time to do this, but I remain positive.

      • Ron P permalink
        August 2, 2014 1:19 pm

        Priscilla, Noel canning is a company in Yakima Washington that does bottling for Pepsi products. I think the canning came from their first attempt to produce cans for Bud, not sure, but they are acompany and that is why they had legal standing to bring up the case. Now how the NLRB impacted them, could be since Washington is not a right to work state they may have had some labor dispute and the NLRB ruled on it.

  60. Pat Riot permalink
    July 31, 2014 10:53 pm

    If we do it’ll be in many different ways, bottom-up and top-down. Bottom-up consumer choice can drive us away from things we don’t want. Top-down legislation can sometimes help tremendously. But I don’t see Americans coming together as they need to.

    I have too much to say for here. Have a nice night and a good tomorrow!

  61. Priscilla permalink
    August 1, 2014 10:03 am

    To both Roby’s and Pat’s points…..Peggy Noonan has a column out this week about the “overuse” of divisiveness in today’s politics. That the constant and vulgar use of hyperbolic accusations (racists! war on women! baby killers! terrorists! traitors!) aimed not only at opposing politicians, but at EVERYONE on the “other side,” and coming from leaders from the President (“Stop hatin’ all the time) on down, has undermined the cohesiveness and natural optimism of the American people.

    I tend to agree with this. I think that social media, such as Facebook, has also exacerbated this. Every day on Facebook, I read posts which essentially insult and deride anyone who disagrees politically with the poster. I’m not talking about “Obama is a socialist!” types of posts or “McCain is a warmonger!” stuff. Thinking that the current president is the worst. president. ever. or that politicians, in general, are terrible liars has been going on forever.

    No, it’s the “All Republicans are hateful racists and redneck idiots who want to persecute women” stuff that I read, and I wonder – do these people care that some of their “friends” are Republicans and may be offended by this sort of wild and reckless talk? Personally, it tends to amuse me, but I’m also befuddled by the fact that we can be so cavalier about hating and fearing 50% of our fellow citizens. How in the world do you unite with these ‘awful people’?

    • Roby L permalink
      August 1, 2014 10:35 am

      Each side getting its own official media outlets did not help either. The advent of Rush et al. did a lot, they hit a new level of invective to a huge audience and generated a huge backlash. I presume that your last sentence is about offence to republicans because that is what you feel most personally. Liberal has been a dirty word for a long time, baby killers, all that.

      • August 1, 2014 10:40 am

        I think the baby killers label is quite appropriate, actually.
        Oh, sorry, those babies being aborted are simply the result of “choice.”

        I forgot, please forgive my insensitivity.

      • Priscilla permalink
        August 1, 2014 11:31 am

        Both sides of the abortion debate are made up mostly of good people with strongly held views and beliefs. A great number of these people have been convinced that the other side is made up of crazed zealots and murderers. As a result, the abortion debate rarely goes anywhere but straight downhill.

        Roby, I will incur your wrath here by saying that I do listen to Rush on occasion, and have for years. I have not heard him ever attack anyone but politicians and academics/celebrities who have chosen to go public with political statements. One of the rare exceptions to this was the Sandra Fluke uproar, and he apologized for that….

        I don’t see anything wrong with partisan attacks on politicians and public figures who insert themselves into the political arena. So, Rush is fair game, as are the MSNBC talking heads.

        I think the danger arises when truly hateful and divisive rhetoric is used to turn average citizens against each other, for the purpose of generating votes. Once the election is over, it’s hard for any leader to then turn around and say, “Oh, yeah, about those racist haters? They’re really not so bad.”

    • August 1, 2014 10:36 am

      Obama communicates like a HS dropout. Stop hatin’ all the time? You would expect that from the slacker kid next door, not the POTUS.

      If he stopped demonizing the GOP for even one minute, I think it MIGHT help build some level of cooperation. But of course, he is a one-trick pony who only knows the politics of attack.

      For example: the House passed a VA bill yesterday. That would be an opportunity for a few strokes from the POTUS. No chance, no mention. Everyday, he is on the attack.

      Ditto Harry Reid. Another “leader” that we need to retire.

  62. Roby L permalink
    August 1, 2014 10:41 am

    If he is really making up laws JB there is a supreme court for that. His decision to do things by executive orders since he is facing such rigid opposition was a bad and unpopular one, loudly scorned from many sides. Its a big mistake. But I do not see how it is the end the world, the Supremes will sort that out. The illegals have been happening forever, waves and waves, and amnesties in waves. I would be interested in objective data that shows that we have hit a really exceptional new level of illegals. Nixon certainly bent the law but good.

    • August 1, 2014 10:54 am

      Yeah, we can wait for the “objective studies” on immigration. Good luck on that one.

      There is a SC and yes, several of his edicts have been struck down after the fact. Of course, that takes years. If his actions on the border and blanket amnesty (coming soon) are overturned in 4 ys, what makes you think that will undo the damage to this country?

      When all manner of diseases are brought into the US by these “children” will it matter much what the SC does in 4 yrs. When the gangs and drugs spread across the US, will the SC be able to fix it?

      Funny stuff: Libs are inflamed when an employer won’t pay for “birth control” but seem fine about importing infectious diseases.

  63. August 1, 2014 10:55 am

    Nixon was an amateur compared to Obama. Then again, Nixon was viewed as the enemy by the WP and the NYT. They were in their glory exposing Nixon. You think they would do that now?

    Not hardly.

  64. Pat Riot permalink
    August 1, 2014 12:54 pm

    I believe Obama is a well-spoken, treasonous globalist player, but does anyone here think that if we were able to oust our current POTUS, replace him with an intelligent, well-spoken conservative or libertarian, and in conjunction with a few other key replacements in the Senate and the House, that the voice of the People would then be re-connected to our system of government? I side with those who believe the problems are much more systemic than that. Some good quality people do go into politics (along with the power-hungry narcissist types), and they soon learn their influence is limited, loved ones threatened, et cetera. It’s more about issues such as curbing the corporate lobbying than Democrat or Republican, more than about Obama, more than about a few leaders.

    • Ron P permalink
      August 1, 2014 6:01 pm

      Pat, I side with those that say nothign would change. Not until the GOP stops fighting within and not backing bills that might help and not until Reid is out of a job.

      It is enough to make people sick when a handful of people have complete control over what gets a vote and what does not. We say we are a democracy, but are we really when Reid can stop any legislation from getting a vote?

  65. Roby L permalink
    August 1, 2014 1:51 pm

    Roby, I will incur your wrath here by saying that I do listen to Rush on occasion, and have for years. I have not heard him ever attack anyone but politicians and academics/celebrities who have chosen to go public with political statements. One of the rare exceptions to this was the Sandra Fluke uproar, and he apologized for that….

    Priscilla, I don’t listen to him but have seen transcripts. I guess that mocking the Japanese earthquake survivors seems pretty seriously lacking in any kind of human decency. If he turns those sensibilities of public figures then what good of American unity could result? Its funny to mock a nation that just suffered 10,000 dead for recycling? Really? That is conservative humor/values? Anyone should just run and disown this kind of sick sick mind.

    • Roby L permalink
      August 1, 2014 2:19 pm

      And not at all lovely.

    • Priscilla permalink
      August 1, 2014 5:04 pm

      Well, as I said, I don’t listen to Rush on any kind of regular basis, but I tend to doubt that he actually mocked the victims, because, had he actually done that, there would likely have been a firestorm of protest that would have dwarfed the “Sandra Fluke is sounding like a slut” outcry. At least, I hope so.

      But, my point was not to praise or defend Rush Limbaugh. He is, after all, a pundit and entertainer, and anyone is free to listen to him or not….at best, he influences a few million people and has power over none.

      The bully pulpit and power of the Presidency is on a whole other order of magnitude… a president who chooses to divide rather than unite by his rhetoric does undermine the morale of the country I think. Is that a crime? Certainly not. But it sucks anyway.

  66. Archie One-Eye permalink
    August 1, 2014 3:54 pm

    A million Israeli Ahabs cannot trump one little Arab Tinker-Bell.

  67. August 1, 2014 6:10 pm

    And then, there is Eric Holder, who tells a member of Congress: “Don’t go there buddy!”

    The AG is in contempt of Congress, with approval by his boss.

    So, we are supposed to have respect for the rule of law under these two thug?

    • Ron P permalink
      August 1, 2014 10:23 pm

      JB..Don’t forget John Brennan who told Congress a few months back that the CIA did not knownly spy on the senate (or their staffers). (Not the specific comment he made but close to it).

      ..“The facts will come out,” Brennan told NBC News in March after Senator Dianne Feinstein issued a blistering condemnation of the CIA on the Senate floor, accusing his agency of hacking into the computers used by her intelligence committee’s staffers. “Let me assure you the CIA was in no way spying on [the committee] or the Senate,” he said.

      According to The Guardian “As reports emerged Thursday, that an internal investigation by the Central Intelligence Agency’s inspector general found that the CIA “improperly” spied on US Senate staffers when researching the CIA’s dark history of torture, it was hard to conclude anything but the obvious: John Brennan blatantly lied to the American public. Again.”

      How about 2 for 2. (We must conclude both in contempt of congress, with approval by his boss)

      • August 2, 2014 9:39 am

        You have to wonder how spineless the Democraps must be to tolerate this simply because Barry is “one of their own” and, candidly, the first black POTUS.

        Well, if we peons can be spied upon and lied to with impunity, I guess Congress gets to have the experience as well?

  68. Roby L permalink
    August 2, 2014 10:09 am

    I have no doubt that an extra allowance is made by democrats because Obama is black. Really, this was not the time for all the divisiveness that was bound to follow from having our first non white president. Which is one reason why I strongly hope that we do not get Hillary, another first. I’m in the mood for a nice copy of Bush I or Ford right now.

    On the other hand the loyal opposition, or at least very sizable parts of it certainly distinguished itself by its fanatical opposition, which has been tone deaf at best and racist in the worst cases. Which in my opinion is the reason Obama was reelected.

    As far as the NSA spying on us, I do not give a shit if they record my conversatins. Osama bin Laden really effectively changed the US dramatically for the worse and the need for all kinds of things we never had before, borderline torture, Guantanamo, mass surveillance of communications, etc. arose. I do not, repeat, give a shit if they record my and everyones phone conversations. They could not possible manage to actually listen to more than .01% of it. They record it all so that when someone, like that idiot at the Boston Marathon, blows something up, they have all the conversations that person was involved in on file and can pull them up. The only way the NSA is ever going to pay the slightest attention to anything I say on the phone or online is if somehow I ever have a conversation with someone who later blows something up. In that case they will listen to my recorded conversation and conclude that I was talking about nothing of interest to them. Unfortunately that is necessary post 911. We wanted terrorists to be stopped in the US and that was necessary.

    I was flying out of JFK fairly often in 2000 and was used to big crowds in the airport. Sometime in the year after 911 I went to JFK to pick someone up. The international terminals were empty. Instead of the usual crowds, there was almost no one in sight when you walked into the terminal. That was due to 911, people stopped flying. We need to have the belief that the government can stop shoe bombers etc. in order to conduct international business and relationships . We hate the intrusion of security but we would hate another terrorist incident even more. Bush put this in place and it was necessary. If one is not doing anything wrong then they have nothing to worry about. My Sen Leahy was dead set against the war on terrorism, and I thought he was being a liberal bonehead, it made me really angry. Civil libertarians usually seem to me to be hysterical, although I am sure its a good thing in many ways that they are there to object. I would certainly never give one thin dime to the ACLU, 90% of what they do disgusts me. 911 changed the balance of security intrusions, I more than accept it.

    • August 2, 2014 10:30 am

      I am calling Bullshit. The need to monitor every phone call and email has never been proven to be either effective (that is from the NSA) nor warranted.

      Of course, we cannot profile because that would be well, offensive, to muslims. So, we act like Big Brother , which can’t be considered offensive? We can’t call a mass murder on a military base, terror, it is workplace violence.


      Civil Libertarians are “hysterical” because they are appropriately worried as this administration spies on all and covers it up to boot. Then when caught, they are simply OK about it. Do you really think we would have ever known about the NSA spying if Snowden hadn’t told us?

      To wit:

      And then there is the political use of the IRS (Lois Lerner is not a rogue IRS employee).

      If you choose to be OK about all this, that is your right. Labeling others as hysterical because they don’t see it that way may make you feel better, but that is about all it does.

      The funniest thing is with all of this massive spying on innocent citizens, this POTUS apparently cares not if terrorists can simply walk into the US via the Southern Border. If you were really concerned about security, you might want to focus there.

      Yes, even stupid muslim terrorists can figure out it is easier to infiltrate the US through Mexico than it is to try and get through Customs at JFK.

    • Ron P permalink
      August 2, 2014 1:47 pm

      Roby, I am sorry you are not concerned about the spying by the NSA and the violation of the constitution when this takes place. I only hope you will speak out on some issue that violates the constitution before it becomes too late. The people in the following poem also were not concerned and waited too long..

      When the Nazis came for the communists,
      I remained silent;
      I was not a communist.

      When they locked up the social democrats,
      I remained silent;
      I was not a social democrat.

      When they came for the trade unionists,
      I did not speak out;
      I was not a trade unionist.

      When they came for the Jews,
      I remained silent;
      I wasn’t a Jew.

      When they came for me,
      there was no one left to speak out.

      I would rather be a civil libertarian and be called hysterical than to be a bystander and allow the government to chip away at rights like they are doing without saying anything about it.

  69. Roby L permalink
    August 2, 2014 10:27 am

    Priscilla, in my opinion there have been five events that have been destructive political earthquakes that have led to our present unusually high level of political divisiveness.

    The contested 2000 election.

    The separation of conservatives/republicans to their own news and opinion media (i’d call that ghettoization).

    911 and all that followed from it.

    The financial crisis.

    Obama, the 2008 democratic landslide and Obama care.

    The cure to partisanship is that both parties need to be able to reject their own nasty elements. I don’t see that happening. Political partisans rationalize the effects of the nasty elements on their own ideological side while being very sensitive to perceived slights and insults directed at them from the other side. We all know people who are like that in their personal life, and we all avoid them if we can, who wants to be around anyone who is both nasty and hypersensitive to slights/ That is the way the parties are now. I try to have sunny outlook, but on this issue I am failing. Its a downhill spiral. Anyone truly interested in changing it needs to start by being much more concerned and even just honest about the offences given by their own side.

  70. August 2, 2014 10:38 am

    When the NY Times calls Congress “unhinged” and more specifically attacks King and Bachman, we see a root cause of this “division.” The POTUS sits on his ass day in and day out, raising money and taking vacations and what gets the NY TImes ire?

    The fact that the House GOP will not give Obama a blank check and cave on amnesty.

    Gee, do you think this will get better real soon?

  71. Roby L permalink
    August 2, 2014 11:15 am

    Have you actually heard of any Muslim terrorists entering through Mexico and commuting a terrorist act? I haven’t, but maybe I missed something. They are not stupid as a group, whatever else they may be. I am failing to see the connection between the NSA abuses to the idiotic Lerner situation. Lerner should be in jail, fine with me, but the NSA wiretaps are a completely different issue. I also got no response from you on the question of any data that show that we have more porous Mexican borders now than usual. If it is there, you should be able to find it. I am not sure where you pulled the idea of diseases either, as connected to our porous southern borders. You seem to be as obsessed with the borders as you are with Obama. Are you being somehow surrounded by disease-ridden Spanish speakers there in Iowa? I have parents in both California and New Mexico and neither report any obvious issue with Mexicans or spanish speakers. Lots of inexpensive gardening gets done, that’s about it as far as what my parents see. Obviously we cannot just allow anyone to come in who wants, but this problem is not at all new. Neither are Amnesty programs. RR signed the largest.

    Snowden revealed precisely nothing about the big picture of the NSA spying that I did not already know about from reading the news. As well, the spying is perpetual between countries, Germany and everyone else do it as well, they just don’t have a Snowden yet and you are naive if you think the US invented this or does it more than any other large powerful nation. Snowden and Assange to me are just two repulsive techno-twerps with a nasty grudge against the US who have done a lot of damage to us, much to the delight of people like Putin.

    • August 2, 2014 11:33 am

      Yes, I know Roby, you know everything or you know nothing. Which is it? If you “knew” about the NSA spying before Snowden, that put you ahead of the NY Times, who thought it was quite the scoop.

      As far as the porous border, are you unaware of what has been happening in the past months? Clearly, the UN thinks it is a “humanitarian” crisis but apparently, you do not. You are right, this will all reduce the cost of my lawn service, so it is really OK. Who could be against cheap Mexican and Honduran labor?

      We will never get any objective facts from the border fiasco. Why? Well, because no one is allowed to speak to or photograph these “children.” They have rights, according to the Obama twerps, to privacy, which somehow trumps our ability to know what is happening on the border. They also have rights to transportation and housing states and the states apparently have no right to even know that they will be arriving.

      And, lastly, my dear friend. do you need to have a terrorist act happen before you acknowledge that an open border is an invitation to terrorists? At that point, maybe we can station a few TSA fat asses down there and take care it?

      So, you go be happy about standing in TSA lines and having them pat you down while any clown in the planet can now simply walk through the open fence and claim “asylum.”

      Now as to spying on the German Chancellor, you assert that this happens all the time. I can assure you that based on her reaction and the news pieces that I read from Euro sources, this was NOT business as usual. They are STILL pissed and wondering why Allies are treated like Russians.

      I suggest that you go back to reading fiction or something and stop writing this off to an Obama obsession. This stuff is real and it is dangerous but I am sure it will all blow over. After all, what could possibly happen, its not like someone could fly a plane into a skyscraper.

      PS-I lived in San Diego for 10 yrs. I can chat about that experience anytime you like, from direct knowledge versus you parents living there.

      • Roby L permalink
        August 2, 2014 12:03 pm

        Be my guest, tell me about San Diego and what you saw there.

        Vermont has been proposed as a destination for the border children, Sen Leahy and others are looking into whether our state law legally permits us to house the children. Nobody is dumping them on us without telling us anything or allowing us to choose, that is incorrect. We have housed lots of refugees and people who were given political asylum in Vermont. There is a large Nigerian community in Burlington, and a Meskatian (can’t spell it) Turk community, refugees from Russia, in Vermont as well. I taught English to a family of them, since they speak Russian. They have harmed no one, not a problem. I’m not hyperventilating about the potential Honduran kids either. I do have good friends who immigrated here legally from Honduras, great people, no diseases, very smart and talented though.

        Anyone reading the news since 911 knew that starting with Bush the level of surveillance of phone conversations had been ratcheted repeatedly up and was pervasive, again it was no secret. Snowden provided specific embarrassing to the US details, that was the scoop. Merkel is upset because, although she knows full well how much spying her country does, the average German is not privy and thus German citizens were pissed off by Snowden and Merkal was bound to react in public indignation. Plus, everyone is hypocritical and loves their own spies more than those from other countries.

        I don’t know about reading fiction, but I am not wasting my life away reading the political attacks of partisan media, which is where you seem to get most of your “facts” and ideas. Yes, you hate Obama, why collect another pile of conservative attacks everyday to confirm it? I’d suggest more baseball games and less being put in motion by partisan media and political hacks.

      • August 2, 2014 2:01 pm

        So, you know why Merkel is upset. Close personal friend. You actually cannot know what she thinks, which means you make it up anyway.

        Moreover, you can assert all you want that “everybody knew” about what Snowden leaked. Yes, that is why they want to try him for treason,.

        Most of what you say is simply factually untrue. I can see why you are happy in Vermont.

        God speed.

    • August 2, 2014 12:10 pm

      Muslim terrorists do not sneak accross the southern border in droves, because committing an act of terror inside the US using outside actors is a logistical nightmare. 9/11 was an amazing and likely unrepeatable feat.

      Think of what you are dealing with.
      First you have to have committed terrorists who can operate in the US – remember they have to survive here frequently for some time before doing their dirty deeds.
      Either they must be able to function in our society – get jobs, interract, support themselves, not attract attention, or they must have a great deal of money AND others already here to support them.
      Al Queda is not the KGB.
      There are not huge pools of well educated muslim terrorsts prepared to sacrifice their lives in the US who are also able to live here for long periods without being “corrupted” by our ideas and ideals.

      Contrary to the rants of our government’s anti-terror efforts have been pathetic.

    • August 2, 2014 12:22 pm

      One can favor “open borders” and still think Obama and progressives are nuts.

      Frankly with respect to borders we have an irresolveable conflict.

      So long as we have a welfare state we can not allow broad immigration without risking national destruction.

      So long as our standard of living is nearly the highest in the world, and our nation is one of the freest, we will draw immigrants like a magnet.
      We are eldorado for most of the world.

      The greatest health problem for poor americans is ….. Obesity.
      The rest of the world would love some of our problems.

      Solving the islamic terrorism problem is relatively easy – do exactly what Osama Bin Laden asked – let muslims fight and kill themselves.

      Our record in foreign intrigues is laughably bad. Some of the most hostile countries in the world are those where we sought to install friendly governments.

      Might such policies have atleast short term negative consequences for us – particularly with respect to energy ? Likely. So what. The best solution to our energy problems is not invading foreign nations. As a people and as a government we need to start trusting that markets work. I do not know how a potential radical shift in oil exports from the mideast might impact us – only that we will ultimately survive – even thrive. Solving problems requires the incentive to do so. Using our military to avoid that solves nothing.

      • Roby L permalink
        August 2, 2014 12:35 pm

        I played at a county Agricultural fair yesterday. You are correct about the obesity, its staggering.

        ASmith, I have to confess something.

        I enjoy your stuff, its usually got some very good points and often even some objective analysis.

        I ain’t gonna ever gonna argue with you about anything, not ever again, that leads to both of us getting becoming obsessive and producing a deluge. I don’t agree with your overall world view. But you do make some damn good points and say some very interesting things. Thanks.

      • Priscilla permalink
        August 2, 2014 2:24 pm

        The Democrats, by going all-in with progressives on the welfare state, have essentially made a deal with the devil, and believe that they must support uncontrolled immigration in order to assure that there will continue to be enough Democrat voters to continue it.

        I would like to think that this may be the issue that finally breaks the left’s strangle hold on the party.

    • August 2, 2014 12:25 pm

      As to NSA spying – yes most of us have known that the NSA has been spying on us fro a long long time.

      But prior to Snowden the real extent was not known – and it proved even greater than tin foil types had thought, further Snowden did nto assert it – he proved it with NSA documents.

      • August 2, 2014 2:04 pm

        Yes, just because you are labeled paranoid doesn’t mean someone isn’t spying on you.

  72. Roby L permalink
    August 2, 2014 12:11 pm

    David Ignatious, Washington Post:

    WASHINGTON — Given recent German indignation about the National Security Agency, it has been easy to overlook the fact that for decades the German government has cooperated extensively with the NSA on surveillance activities. But after a high-level meeting in Berlin recently, this long-standing but veiled cooperation may have a firmer legal and political base.
    The two countries’ past partnership became so extensive that they even developed a special logo for their joint signals-intelligence activity, known by its initials, “JSA.” It shows an American bald eagle against the colors of the German flag, next to the words Der Zeitgeist, or “the spirit of the age.”
    Click Here
    Like so much else we know about the NSA, the details about its activities in Germany come from Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor now living in Moscow. He provided a trove of secret documents to Der Spiegel, which published more than 50 online last month.
    German anger about American spying boiled over recently with the expulsion of the CIA station chief in Berlin. The Germans were furious when they discovered that the CIA was paying a “walk-in” German agent, adding to their anger that the NSA had tapped Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone.
    In an attempt to heal this feud, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough met in Berlin with his German counterpart, Peter Altmaier. A senior German official told me his government was “very satisfied” with the meeting, especially McDonough’s proposal to develop “guiding principles” for cooperation on intelligence matters. While not a formal “no-spy” pledge, this agreement might reassure Germans that their rights would be respected.
    The NSA’s relationship with Germany dates back to a 1962 pact with the Bundesnachrichtendienst, or BND, as Germany calls its federal intelligence service. According to a Jan. 17, 2013, NSA document summarizing the relationship: “In the past year, Germany displayed both eagerness and self-sufficiency in transforming its SIGINT activities and assumed greater risk in support of U.S. intelligence needs and efforts to improve information sharing within the German government, with coalition partners, and NSA.”
    Perhaps most striking, given German public rage at U.S. snooping, the NSA summary credited its German partner for helping to reduce privacy obstacles: “The BND has been working to influence the German government to relax interpretation of the privacy laws over the long term to provide greater opportunity for intelligence sharing.”
    The senior German government official affirmed that the intelligence partnership has been “very extensive” and said “we are very happy with this cooperation.” He didn’t dispute U.S. estimates that the NSA has helped disrupt over 50 terrorist plots, including over 20 in Europe. But the official cautioned that to gain German support for continued partnership, the U.S. must be more open about its intelligence activities, and avoid actions that violate the rights of German citizens.
    “The problem we face in Germany is not about intelligence collection anymore, but about public sentiment. The public is extremely upset, and the German government has to take this into account,” the official said. Pressed about why the German government hadn’t been more honest with its public about the extent of past cooperation, the official said “it’s a very bad moment to say it’s ‘all right,'” after the Snowden revelations.
    Germany had felt “the ball was in America’s court,” post-Snowden, and was waiting for the U.S. to set a new framework, the official said. The meeting seems to have sent the message that Merkel wanted to hear.
    Merkel and other German supporters of continued cooperation will have a political battle ahead. When Der Spiegel published the Snowden documents, an accompanying story summed up why many Germans were upset: “No other country in Europe plays host to a secret NSA surveillance architecture comparable to the one in Germany.”
    The Der Spiegel documents describe the extensive collaboration. “In addition to the day-to-day collection, the Germans have offered NSA unique accesses in high interest target areas,” noted the January 2013 summary. Another document explained that during a January 2012 meeting, a senior German official “sought NSA’s assistance with intercepting Skype transmissions.” A third document describing a planned BND visit in May 2013, just over a month before Snowden’s leaks began appearing in the press, noted that top BND officials “continue to express a desire to increase CND [Computer Network Defense] engagement with the NSA.”
    Cooperation between the two countries’ spy services “is deeper than previously believed,” as Der Spiegel put it. The U.S. and Germany are now attempting to rebuild the partnership so that it is more transparent and, perhaps, develops a more solid political base.

    • August 2, 2014 2:02 pm

      David Ignatius? Why not post from Rush Limbaugh. David is an apologist for all things Obama.

      Seriously, you have to do better than this.

      • Roby L permalink
        August 2, 2014 3:43 pm

        No, you have to do better. I had no idea who he is but looking him up I find that he is a well respected journalist among other things he was a reporter for the WSJ for 10 years. Apologist for Obama, by your standards nearly Everyone in mainstream journalism is an apologist for Obama, anyone who doesn’t despise him. What you are telling me is that you will not consider facts if the source is someone who is not passionately anti_Obama. The target here is even the CIA, not Obama. Quibble with the facts, not the name of the author including:

        The senior German government official affirmed that the intelligence partnership has been “very extensive” and said “we are very happy with this cooperation.” He didn’t dispute U.S. estimates that the NSA has helped disrupt over 50 terrorist plots, including over 20 in Europe. But the official cautioned that to gain German support for continued partnership, the U.S. must be more open about its intelligence activities, and avoid actions that violate the rights of German citizens.
        “The problem we face in Germany is not about intelligence collection anymore, but about public sentiment. The public is extremely upset, and the German government has to take this into account,” the official said. Pressed about why the German government hadn’t been more honest with its public about the extent of past cooperation, the official said “it’s a very bad moment to say it’s ‘all right,’” after the Snowden revelations.

        You worry about terrorist plots from a source where none have come (and Dave gave some reasonable reason why they don’t come from Mexico) and are furiously opposed to the people and methods that have prevented over 50. No sense at all in that, its all emotion and partisanship and no practicality.

      • August 2, 2014 4:26 pm

        Blah, blah, blah You can interpret anything that you want, especially when it is printed in the Washington Post. I read the news direct from Europe. There, they are not buying the party line which is presented in this article. And, yes, Merkel was reported to be furious that Obama did not reassure her that indeed, her phone STILL was not being tapped.

        Yes, the Germans and US cooperate. As to whether any plots are stopped, we have to take their word for it, as we seem to have to do with this “most transparent administration” in history.

        We know in the US that the Boston Bombing and the Ft Hood massacre were NOT stopped, even though there were warning signs all over the place. You give these “intelligence” guys way more credit than they deserve.

        But, you can keep on singing in the rain, there Gene.

  73. Priscilla permalink
    August 2, 2014 12:41 pm

    So much going on in just a few comments!

    I agree with a great deal of what you say in your comment about polarization, Roby. In 2000, I voted for Al Gore, and was hoping throughout that a recount would show that he won Florida. The thing is, when all was said and done, I felt no anger at Bush and the Republicans, and, in fact, began to be somewhat peeved over the never-ending wailing over the “stolen election!!” Democratic Party leaders seemed to decide, at that point, that stoking Bush hatred would be a valuable campaign technique going forward. “Hating” the President became the thing to do. I suppose that, after 2008, when Obama was being hailed as the President who would finally pull us all together, it was inconceivable to many that he could be hated too… the whole “racist” thing began as the boilerplate response to any and all criticism of Obama.

    The thing is, Obama himself plays right into that, and, since being elected, has never seriously challenged the idea that anyone who is opposed to him on policy must be a racist. I don’t disagree that there are other events and developments that have caused our current divisions, but I place a lot of blame on the Leader of The Free World for talking like a radio talk show host.

    I have never gotten too worked up about the NSA thing. On the other hand, I am appalled beyond measure at the IRS being used as a political weapon. As far as borders….I don’t think a nation can survive successfully without secure borders, common language and a relatively cohesive culture. I think that this border crisis has the potential to break us, so I suppose I’m obsessed with borders too?

    Honestly, this has been a bad time to have a thoroughly incompetent and highly politicized bunch of people running the government. Although, I guess there is no good time.

    • Roby L permalink
      August 2, 2014 12:52 pm

      Likewise, I am appalled beyond measure by the IRS thing. Jail should certainly result and this is one area where deep congressional investigation, as non partisan as possible, should occur. If Obama actually knew, that is impeachable. But there is no actual evidence of that that I know of, and I doubt it, the risk exceeds the potential payback immensely. If Obama were to know, his cabinet would know and I am not going to believe that there would not be a majority in it who would stop him from something so stupid. But the POTUS is responsible for the culture and Obama has failed there, like Christy.

      The two most objective comments about Obama is that he has never tried to unite the parties, never had a beer with Tip ONeil, simply has returned opposition fire and not risen above it. The second is that he has spun real fairly tales abut the economy, Obamacare, etc. to the point where you either believe he is seriously lacking intelligence in certain crucial areas or is lying. I think its the former. But I always have been a bit forgiving.

      • August 2, 2014 2:11 pm

        Agreed. Stupidity and arrogance is a terrible combination. If he is also a liar (my bet) then you have a trifecta.

        We have a trifecta. Hubris might be the worst human quality, although cruelty is up there.

        Worse, he gathers yes-men and women around him to tell him how BRIGHT he is and how the presidency has been a big disappointment to him. It appears he thought he was so bright that everyone would just agree with him. He longs to talk about art, and philosophy, and oh, yes, March Madness.

        What an enlightened human being he must be.

        Hmmm, sounds like a University Faculty Member. Jeez, even the adjuncts have a big ego.

    • Ron P permalink
      August 2, 2014 1:32 pm

      Can we retire the Bush/Gore controversy?
      Now we can argue over the issue about electoral college v popular vote, but every website that shows the vote by state shows the final vote in Florida with a Bush victory.

      • August 2, 2014 2:13 pm

        This will make you very unpopular and perhaps labeled hysterical.

        Stop with the facts, already.

    • August 2, 2014 2:07 pm

      Well said. I cannot think of any time in this presidency when Obama did not sound like an attack dog and demonizer. No wait, there are times when he is blaming Bush for all that goes wrong.

  74. August 2, 2014 2:05 pm

    Ditto, although Dave and I agree more often than not.

    Clearly, that means he is brilliant.

  75. August 2, 2014 2:15 pm

    But Ron, they will keep the sheeple “safe!”

    That trumps liberty any day of the week, for some.

    Seriously, if the CIA will bug Congress and try to intimidate their staff, what might they do to any average job?>

    And as we saw, this morning, he has the full vote of confidence from Obama.

    As does Eric Holder.


  76. Roby L permalink
    August 2, 2014 4:03 pm

    “But Ron, they will keep the sheeple “safe!”
    That trumps liberty any day of the week, for some.”

    Straight from Counterpunch rhetoric. Good Grief.

    No principle or right exists except in balance against other principles and rights.
    If I am a “sheeple” because I prefer to put up with the TSA and the one in a trillion chance the CIA is going to listen to something I said to having to worry about whether airplanes that I and my loved ones fly one are going to be blown up, or that the Kennedy airport will again be eerily empty following another terrorist success, then so be it. It seems to me that I can sacrifice that much of my liberty given the countervailing issue. Most people will go with me. Choose the opposite if you wish and believe that you are not a sheeple. Seriously you object to “fail” but write about “sheeple”, the ultimate far left infantile mindless insult for anyone not far left. Ouch.

    You’ve worn me out. I think you have strange priorities and I am going to try to stop debating with you. Its a beautiful summer day, I have both a convertible and a motorboat, time to turn off my obsessiveness and do something more enjoyable.

    • August 2, 2014 4:21 pm

      Hurts doesn’t it? Almost as bad as being called hysterical.

      Yes, most people might prefer to be frisked by the TSA to remain “safe.” That theory will be tested when it DOESN’T keep them safe.

      Then, we will see how much liberty remains. For you, a modicum may do. For others, not so much.

    • Ron P permalink
      August 2, 2014 6:24 pm

      Roby I am sorry you decided this is not worth debating as there needs to be some understanding between those that find government spying on its citizens fine, while others are strictly tied to the constitution and the Bill of Rights and find spying on citizens distasteful.

      In that document it reads:
      “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized”

      When you buy a ticket to get on a plane, you are contracting with a private company and the government (FAA ) in a business deal and therefore have given up certain rights based on the laws that cover that private business and governmental agency.

      On the other hand ,you have not given up your rights as a US citizen to have your private conversations tapped by the government unless there is reasonable suspicion that you are doing something illegal and planing that activity on that phone. It clearly states the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized. The NSA is clearly in violation of this amendment by searching you and your phone without a warrant. You did not give up this right when you bought the plane ticket and since I will not fly for any reason, they could be tapping me even though I don’t buy plane tickets.

      I ask two things that I wonder if you will answer.
      1. Would you support an amendment to the constitution retracting this Bill of Rights?
      2. If so, in what way should it be changed?

      My point is the consitution is there for a reason. The way it was created is there for a reason. If people want the government spying on them, then there is a way for that to happen legally. Amend the constitution to allow this to be legal.

      If not, then we need to stop the slow trickle of lost rights based on some politicians or wacko government officials desire to infringe on peoples rights.

      If it is clearly a violation of the constitution, then no one should be in favor of the government making up its own rules. Maybe in foreign countries this happens and is fine for those that grew up under those rules. To me, it is not.

      • Roby L permalink
        August 2, 2014 6:47 pm

        Ron, in this case the answer is obvious, if the constitution prohibits the government from spying on citizens then the NSA is violating that and you do not need my opinion, only a lawyer and a budget. Since I am not a lawyer…. There have been court cases on this, have there not and it has not as yet been clearly found unconstitutional, its been a sort of mixed message from the courts if I understand correctly. If it were to be found unconstitutional that would not be very surprising to me, but the opposite result also would not. As we all know, the Constitution is not a precise document that gives exact answers to many specific questions, rather it is more a process for getting those answers. So far that process has not stopped the NSA. I am fine with what I understand that the NSA is doing. If they are doing something else, I will have to judge that as I find it. Not searching every passenger on an airplane, or every person who walks into a courthouse or legislature in the modern set of circumstances sounds irresponsible and careless to me and I would guess, to the majority. Now please do not join JB and call us Sheeple.

        There seem to be no shortage of people who believe that their personal interpretation of the Constitution is absolute. I hope you are not one of those!

      • August 2, 2014 9:43 pm

        Yeah, you are one of the sheeple. Sorry, it is, what it is.

      • Ron P permalink
        August 2, 2014 11:18 pm

        Roby, no I do not beleive the constitution is absolute in all cases. For instance where one has the right to bear arms, I do not believe that right also includes the right to own clips that contain large amounts of ammunition. I do not believe that allows everyone to own weapons without some controls like licensing of concealed weapons. It only states you and I have a right to own weapons and what controls are included is open for interpretation.

        But in this case, it appears to me that the right to privacy is very clear when it includes “effects”. But that is where SCOTUS will have to determine the legality and if this is anything like past decisions, it will be a political 5-4 decision and not really a legal decision where the vote might be 7-2 or 8-1.

        Seems to me the better solution would be for congress to clarify the issue, but here again the politics would get in tthe way.

  77. August 2, 2014 4:19 pm

    Never underestimate the power of denial and shifting the blame. My prediction is that first, many will be in denial (Roby might be an example of that).

    Then, the finger pointing begins and the Dems blame Boehner for not passing “immigration reform” (blanket amnesty).

    Hope I am wrong.

  78. August 2, 2014 9:42 pm

    Very well done, Ron. Very well done.

  79. Roby L permalink
    August 2, 2014 10:25 pm

    Fail. I have no wool. Haha.

  80. Roby L permalink
    August 2, 2014 10:27 pm

    JB, sadly, based on the fact that you use Counterpunch as a source, use sheeple as an argument, and are more enlightened than the masses that you, sir, must be a far lefty. I am shocked, simply shocked.

  81. Roby L permalink
    August 3, 2014 8:58 am

    “I do not beleive the constitution is absolute in all cases. For instance where one has the right to bear arms, I do not believe that right also includes the right to own clips that contain large amounts of ammunition. I do not believe that allows everyone to own weapons without some controls like licensing of concealed weapons. It only states you and I have a right to own weapons and what controls are included is open for interpretation.”

    My admiration only grows. Common sense is a truly wonderful characteristic.

    Its not that I believe that due to the NSA and TSA no terrorist acts can occur, these agencies are not the first in history infallible human designs. But when my brakes failed last year, I did not stop believing in brakes. In fact I only believed more strongly in the need for them.

    As to your interpretation of the Constitution on this matter, I sympathize and understand your point but at this point as a practical rather than a legal matter, we need airport and other security. Rights don’t exist as pristine intellectual/theoretical objects, they get balanced against other countervailing real issues and rights. If anyone manages to substantially remove the post 911 security efforts via the legal aspect they are going to have to deal with a lot of really angry people when that vacuum is inevitably exploited by a terrorist. Sheeple is a mild term compared to the words they will hear. And you ain’t gonna get me in an airplane either under those circumstances and I would bet you will see nearly empty JFK airport terminals. I don’t think that is going to happen; people may gripe about certain TSA and NSA practices but few want to return to pre-911 security.

    • August 3, 2014 9:51 am

      You choose to either misunderstand or to simply ignore. No where did I say that we should have not airport security, nor even that we should change the present routine (although I think we SHOULD profile much more than the TSA is allowed to do).

      What I DID say was that this scrutiny is wasted if you simply ignore a southern border that is porous as a sieve. One does not have to “wait for the numbers” from some credible source to understand that what is going on right now is dangerous beyond compare.

      One could talk to the INS agents, who are on the front line. Of course, they could lose their jobs for speaking with reporters (in some cases) but, what the heck.

      This is the most transparent administration in history. In a sense, everyone can see through Obama and his fecklessness. Putin can, and so can the muslim terrorists.

    • Ron P permalink
      August 3, 2014 11:24 am

      Roby, I don’t understand how the TSA and NSA are related. If you are searched by the TSA, you have made an informed decision to buy a plane ticket and travel from point A to point B. You knew in advance of that travel you would be subject to some sort of search. If you were against being searched, then you had a choice to either not travel or to find another way to get where you wanted to go. In the US it might take up to 5 days longer and if international, it could be alot harder. But it is your choice and the decision was made with open eyes.

      People also bring up the issue with cameras being installed everywhere in public to help with crime. Some people say that is an invasion of privacy. I say that is not so because the constitution does not insure the right to privacy in public places.

      Now the NSA tapping phones that are not public and one has not specifically purchased knowing that the government would be listening to conversations is completely different than the TSA. Until the courts decide that phones are not “effects” and that phone conversations, either land line or wireless, are not protected by the constitution, I will continue to argue that the government is breaking the law and personal rights are being whittled away.

      And as rights are whittled away, one day you and I will wake up and asked “how the hell did we get into this mess?” Kind of like crabs being boiled starting with cold water. We are ok as long as the water is cold, we enjoy the luke warm water and then it is too late when the water is boiling.

      I will state once again, if the government wants to invade your privacy and listen to a phone conversation, I have no problem with that if they pass a law that stands up to legal challenge that provides that phones are not protected property and, if it does not stand the challenge, then amend the constitution to modernize it and bring in all the modern issues that this country faces by way of amendments.

      What I object to is Brennan, with the OK from Obama, taking it on himself to decide listening to your conversations or monitoring the senate communications is OK even when he questions if it is legal or not. He does it his way because he suspects he could not do it the legal way by getting a wiretap or other search warrant for the same purposes.

      Being absolute? Yes, I want it absolutely identified through law or constitution what is legal and what is not. I absolutely want someone who makes up the law to fit their needs and violates others rights brought to trial.

      • August 3, 2014 11:32 am

        Well said, Ron. You are much more patient in schooling Roby that I. I will try to do better.

      • Roby L permalink
        August 3, 2014 11:43 am

        I believe that some part of the secrecy exists(ed) exactly so that the actual terrorists do not know the details and avoid them. There really are such people and we really do need, post 911 to be able to locate them. They can’t possibly listen to my conversations, they have not the manpower to listen to a trillionth of what they record. They do not use this power to go after anyone but terrorists in my understanding, if they had a conversation about, say, a murder confession, they cannot use it. If I am wrong about that please correct me.

        I believe that for example routine searches of autos were ruled illegal by the SC, but that simply stopping everyone on friday night and doing a sobriety test was ruled legal, since the element of just picking on long haired kids (that was me and it happened very regularly) was removed. The same logic may apply hear, tap everyone’s phone is like stopping everyone on Friday night.

        Ron, I have nothing but admiration for you, you are sane as a biscuit and the epitome of someone I would want to discuss anything with in a sane way, but your fears are not always my fears and visa versa. I’m terrified of Global warming, I suspect you will not join me in that. I don’t think any less of you if its so.

      • August 3, 2014 1:52 pm

        Don’t worry about global warming, It is the consensus that it will not warm in Vermont. Too many progressives and bean sprouts there.

        LA, on the other hand, will be in flames.

        Anyone for a ride in an old GTO?

      • Ron P permalink
        August 3, 2014 6:49 pm

        Roby, what I fear that you do not is a government that makes up laws as they go forward without any input from congress or the courts.

        If there is a need for medadata mining (not sure about spelling) to find illegal terrorist activities within the borders of the US and one of those terrorist is a friend of a friend of mine and my phone is monitired because I called that friend (not the terrorist directly), then I want the government to have specific authorization to tap my phone.

        It’s as easy as that. Make it legal! What I object to is the apparant disregard for the constitution and its specific statement on the right to privacy. Why do we need the government doing something “dark”, have it found out and then have SCOTUS rule one way or the other. Just make it legal to start with through the legislative system and there will be no problems. Then let SCOTUS rule on the legislation if someone objects. Why does the CIA tap the senate conversations without them knowing. Let the senate pass legislation giving the CIA that legal right t tap their phones.

        As for your traffic stop comment, I do not have a constutitional right to drive a car. I am granted the authority to drive a car on the roads by the states through their legislative systems. So if they want to stop me for a drug/dui, etc check that is their right. Through legislation, actions such a traffic stops based on race are illegal, so stopping someone because they are black, brown or other racial or gender basis is illegal.

        Yes I am concerned about global warming. However, based on climate change that has occurred for billions of years when the earth warmed to levels much warmer than now and cooled to temps much colder than we have ever witnessed in modern time (except for the mini ice age in the 1700’s), I am not going to support any actions taken by our country that does not include the same actions required by all developed and developing countries. I hear good scientific arguements on both sides, so I am not convinced that man alone is the cause. How about China being required to cut coal use by 50% and then we will agree to do the same.

        But we can get a good start on global waring by banning beef sales.

  82. Priscilla permalink
    August 3, 2014 9:09 am

    In my mind, the NSA and the IRS scandal are connected – not literally connected, but in the sense that what the IRS did was to use “protected” information to go after law-abiding citizens, because the IRS apparatchiks (the term simply works better here than bureaucrats) decided that being a member of a tea party organization was wrong or dangerous to the government. And that is pretty scary.

    So, while I would normally be more than willing to tolerate the NSA collecting gobs of information, in the hope that some of this info would stop a terrorist attack, I hesitate, because, frankly, the government has become pretty creepy. When White House spokespeople start calling Republicans ‘arsonists’ and ‘kidnappers’ with ‘bombs strapped to their chests’ – which it did during the shutdown, along with Democrat politicians using the “T” words ( terrorists and traitors) – I have to wonder whether a party in power would now stop at using the IRS, and not use all of its intelligence gathering power to stop these right-wing fanatics that they appear to fear so much?

    Couple that with a fairly cavalier attitude about the Constitution, and you’ve got a recipe for political repression and persecution.

    That said, I do understand and even agree with some of Roby’s arguments here – but if we are going to say that we have nothing to fear from NSA spying, if we have done nothing wrong, then the definition of “wrong” better be pretty damn clear. And, without the clear rule of law applying to everyone, from the President on down, it can’t possibly be clear enough for me.

    • Roby L permalink
      August 3, 2014 9:34 am

      Very reasonable, I understand you.

      While we all agree that these discussions do not change our political beliefs very much, I can say that my long hours here have given me more sympathy and understanding for the opinions and issues of other sides in some cases and this is a good example. Had I never visited the NM I might very well not understand your point here Priscilla. Jeezum, its a lot of work understanding other political mindsets. But worth it I think.

      • Priscilla permalink
        August 3, 2014 11:37 pm

        Roby, I truly appreciate your response, because I know that you and I often come from very different perspectives on these things. The great thing about TNM is that there is a willingness to understand, and that is all too rare these days. I give a great deal of credit to the mysterious Rick Bayan…..but I think that the rest of us have come a long way. 🙂

    • August 3, 2014 9:57 am

      As always, well said. The fact is, I have never in my life committed a violent act and candidly, haven’t even considered doing so. Yet, my typed words could easily be used against me by some dweeb in an NSA cubicle to present the case that, yes, I am a Tea Party Terrorist. (note: I don’t belong to the Tea Party).

      The possibilities for repression are real, as are the chances of simple errors. This administration has already shown that it is willing to spy on Congress using the CIA (aren’t they supposed to spy on the bad guys foreign?).

      So, if the CIA is willing to spy on Congress, have its head deny it under oath to Congress, and then be found out to have been lying is pretty damning in my book.

      To have the POTUS “back” this same director is instructive indeed.

  83. Roby L permalink
    August 3, 2014 10:41 am

    Sorry, JB but understanding what you believe on this issue is not easy, since all I have to go on is your opinion that I am a sheeple for saying I don’t mind the NSA or TSA doing what they are doing. Thats where you jumped in. That sort of implies that you disagree with the NSA/TSA, no?

    Its a porous border, yes. Perhaps you would like to address the points Dave made about why that does not translate to being a terrorist conduit. If you wish to think that the 50+ prevented terrorist plans that were mentioned in the news are just an invention, and opine, “blah, blah, blah,” and call me an infantile leftist name, well, it doesn’t hurt me, the Ouch was meant for you, it must hurt to have to fall back on nothing at all, but saying “blah, blah, blah” when shown facts you don’t wish to see. You are ignoring the fact that the border has been porous forever and perform a cop out when asked for data to show that Obama has done something particularly new or dumb. RR signed a massive amnesty. How do you deal with that? JB, your contribution here amounts to the fact that you despise Obama, little more. Its beyond boring. Come up with something constructive or I’m just going to tune you out.

    To repeat my usual refrain, the problem is enormously difficult, “sending a few TSA fat asses down there” is comical rhetoric and not an actual solution. What is your actual solution? In your universe there is always some simple solution that all those incompetents and fat asses in the government are too stupid to see. So, give it to us. Something more detailed and useful than telling us yet again that Obama is lousy.

    • August 3, 2014 11:01 am

      The border can be secured in any number of ways, none that would meet the sensibilities of someone like yourself. You keep harping on the fact that RR signed an amnesty bill in the 1980s as if that meant something more than it did. He signed that bill with a number of measures that were meant to fund a real border, other than the joke that we now have.

      In case you did not get the memo, Reagan is dead and he is not POTUS anymore. He had no control once he left office as to whether what was promised actually materialized. That was left to future Presidents and Congresses and so that is on their hands, not his.

      For the record, I did not vote for Reagan in the first election as I was at that time, a mindless liberal. Once I started to think for myself, that all changed. That said, I think Reagan was a very good President but the fact that he signed the amnesty bill means nothing to me.

      Apparently Roby, you think this is some big gotcha fact. It isn’t.

      We have had blanket amnesty passed twice in my lifetime, both with “promises” that this time would be the last time. I expect the same empty promises are being made now, which is why guys like Cruz insist the border be secure BEFORE anyone gets a deal.

      Going back to the border, it can be secured and in many nations around the world, it IS secure. It take balls, something that the sheeple don’t have. I won’t go into the details because, candidly, you aren’t interested in any details. You just want to go out and throw a steak on the Barbie.

      That is your right and I wish you well.

      Now, as for name calling, you can continue to call me infantile and hysterical. That is your right and it is the only response you seem to have. I think they call that being a one-trick pony.

  84. August 3, 2014 11:17 am

    The House minority leader apparently needs medication. Children posing as adults.

  85. August 3, 2014 11:20 am

    Dave actually said this best in one of his posts. If the illegals that flood the country got NOTHING from the government, they would stop coming here by a factor of 90%.

    It is actually logical for them to come, given the current situation.

  86. Roby L permalink
    August 3, 2014 11:29 am

    “The border can be secured in any number of ways, none that would meet the sensibilities of someone like yourself.” “I won’t go into the details because, candidly, you aren’t interested in any details.”

    A, You don’t know me any more than I know Merkel, and yet you know what I think. For your info, I’d be fine with the big fence, but it would take huge manpower as well, if there is any practical way to shut the border I’m all for it. It seems that there isn’t however.
    B. I’m calling your bluff, This is a cop out. State the ways already. I think you have no plan or already realize that whatever plan you have would not actually work.

    I did not call you infantile. I called the NAME, sheeple, that you have repeatedly called me infantile, and noted with irony that sheeple is part of the far left toolkit. In fact, its among their top five favorite arguments. Nor did I call you hysterical, go back and reread that bit. If you cannot read that I often find the concerns of the ACLU types hysterical (and I consider most of their concerns to be TOO LIBERAL FOR MY TASTES), while also noting that it is probably still a good thing that they do what they do, without feeling insulted then you may just be too sensitive for this type of communication.

    That you wish me well is positive, I wish you well too.

    • August 3, 2014 11:42 am

      I think you need to go back and read your posts. Really, I will leave the name calling aside for a minute.

      Now to secure the border. Yes, it is expensive although it does not have to be as expensive as it is now. The fact is that the US Military could secure the Southern Border in about 90 days. This is not me talking, but experience Marines that I chatted with at length when I lived in San Diego.

      The problem: They would use drones and sharp shooters. Oh my, how can you do this? Actually it is quite easy and in the end MUCH more humane that what goes on their now. But, it would offend the sensibilities of the liberals, who would much rather not acknowledge that there is death all around the border in the here and now.

      To wit: the sharp shooters can hit a target at great distances. In some cases, there will be a fatality and in others, no. Now, once the illegals get that they cannot penetrate the border without loss of life, they will back down. To do otherwise is suicide and it is not clear to me that illegals want to commit suicide.

      Now, how can we do that you ask? Well, the current system perpetuates the myth that no one dies on the way across the border, In fact, they die by the hundreds, out in the desert and I doubt that it is pleasant or can be called humane.

      That is regrettable but no one forces them to make the trek. They make the trek because they believe that they will get here and be allowed to stay.

      If it is clear that neither option is going to happen, most will stay in their home country. Others will be caught and returned, just liked fishing.

      This post is necessarily provocative. Sometimes waking up someone requires a slap.

      It is an old Zen thing.

      • Roby L permalink
        August 3, 2014 11:48 am

        Er, I don;t think its only liberals who would object to your new Berlin wall and new East German tactics. Apparently you were correct here about my sensibilities, but I think you have misjudged the sensibilities of Americans in general as well. Pretty ugly.

      • August 3, 2014 1:54 pm

        Yes, it is much less ugly to allow thousand to die, out of sight and mind.

        At least it won’t interfere with your Barbie.

  87. August 4, 2014 8:22 am

    “Among the significant revelations are that individuals from nations currently suffering from the world’s largest Ebola outbreak have been caught attempting to sneak across the porous U.S. border into the interior of the United States. At least 71 individuals from the three nations affected by the current Ebola outbreak have either turned themselves in or been caught attempting to illegally enter the U.S. by U.S. authorities between January 2014 and July 2014.”

    • Ron P permalink
      August 4, 2014 11:25 am

      JB, just hold your breath (rest your fingers) as nothing is going to happen with the border issues. Big agri business wants illegals so they can pay them crappy wages, construction wants them so they can pay them crappy wages, California wants them so the rich liberals can get their lawns and yards taken care of for little to nothing, the left wants them since they will eventually impact the voting demographics and the GOP wants them so they can tell agri business and large consturction companies they did nothing to harm their wage cost, along with the midwest farming that relies on migrant workers.

      All of this while our government sits on its ass and does little to get our marine back that got lost, called the CHP to tell them he was lost, told the Mexican border guards he was lost, told them he had guns in his truck, was questioned without council and has spent about 5 months in jail and faces a trial starting today that will last until November sometime. He may or may not be coming home after a verdict is reached.

      The Marines may never leave a man behind unless they are ordered to by their President, and Obama lets thousands cross our broder without recourse while allowing one of our best to remain in jail.

      Where is the outrage by both the left and right. They can demonstrate that they do not want the illegals in their back yard, but never a word said when it does not impact them directly.

      If we did not have wimps in the white house, actions would have been taken to put Mexicao on notice that our Marine was expected home in 48 hours and if that did not happen, a round up of all illegals in the USA would start, the national guard would be deployed to the border and trucks, buses and trains full of hispanics would be dumped in the Mexican side of the border for the Mexicans to worry about. If they can get into the US as easily as they do, then we can get them back across the border just as easy.

      • August 4, 2014 12:01 pm

        Nicely said, Ron. I concur 100%, which is I must admit, is depressing me right now.



  88. Priscilla permalink
    August 5, 2014 9:57 am

    So, again, this morning, I read that a ceasefire in Gaza has gone into effect…..primarily due to Israel withdrawing ground forces, after having essentially completed the task of destroying the terror tunnels.

    US State Department thanks Egypt and the Palestinian Authority for the cessation of hostilities, with no mention of Israel.

    What the hell is wrong with these people?

    • Ron P permalink
      August 5, 2014 10:49 am

      In war there are nver really any winners. In this situtation, there have been brokered ceasefires that have been broken before, so maybe our state department is taking a wait and see approach. Does the ceasefire hold and if so, does the fighting return after the 72 hours.
      I think what our state department did here was to recognize those that worked with Hama’s and Israel (even though Israel was not present at the negotiations) and brokered this fragile deal.
      Maybe if the deal sticks, thanks will come to those that hold the peace. I think it is too early to thank anyone on either side right now as missiles and artillary shells can begin flying in a heart beat with the situation that still exist in that region.

      • Priscilla permalink
        August 5, 2014 11:45 am

        Normally, I would agree with you, Ron, but in this particular case, the US did not even cooperate with Egypt and the PA – we backed the pro-Hamas deal put forward by Turkey and Qatar. I think that the pointed refusal of the State Dept. to give credit to our own ally was a petty swipe. So typical of the US these days and it just pisses me off.

        And, of course, the last ceasefire did not last even as long as your average Hollywood film, so we shall see…..

      • Ron P permalink
        August 5, 2014 2:40 pm

        Priscilla, thanks for reminding me of the Turkey deal. Should one wonder why things happen in this administration like they do.

        Why does Obama treat Israel as he and his administration does and why is he handling the ISIS invasion of Northern Iraq as he has? The following article might answer that question. Many will not beleive it.

    • August 5, 2014 12:21 pm

      The Muslims in the WH are making their loyalties well known. No one in the media seems to care. I wonder if American Jews will?

      • Ron P permalink
        August 5, 2014 2:53 pm

        JB check out march 2009 in the article I attached replying to Priscilla.

      • August 5, 2014 3:02 pm

        No surprise here. One of the many reasons he will not salute the flag or put his hand over his heart. Also, he and his family virtually never go to Church.

  89. August 5, 2014 12:21 pm

    BTW- the coverage of this by the BBC was so one sided, I had to turn the damn radio off.

  90. Ron P permalink
    August 5, 2014 8:13 pm

    How depressing. Our marine sits in prison in Mexico and it was reported today that President Obama has not even called the President of Mexico to ask for him to at least speed up the slow process that appears to be the Mexican justice system.

    What the hell is our Commander-in-Chief thinking when he will leave someone in a jail for this long and not even call as his commanding officer to ask for some political help in speeding up this trial?

    And then there is the American public that seems to only be interested in what impacts them directly. Only 133, 700 signitures on a petition to the White House to demand our marine’s release (as of 8:00 8-5-14). If we can only get 133,000 people interested enough to sit down at their computer and take 2 minutes to enter their name and e-mail address into the petition, then we desire every last particle of the government we have today.

    Why should we worry about Ukraine, Iraq, Israel or any other country when we have leadership that sucks like we have and lets our men rot in Mexican jails?

    The marines never leave a man behind (unless your name is Obama and you are their Commander-in-Chief)

    • August 5, 2014 9:39 pm

      I totally agree. This guy is simply the worst leader I have witnessed in my lifetime.

      The fact that some small portion of voters still think he is qualified is a sign of how dumb the sheeple have become.

  91. Priscilla permalink
    August 5, 2014 9:57 pm

    Off-topic, but has anyone heard that this experimental serum that appears to be curing the 2 American Ebola victims at Emory Hospital is tobacco based? Go figure…

    • Ron P permalink
      August 5, 2014 11:37 pm

      Very interesting. And the tobacco is just the host to provide a medium to transform the protein into the usable form for the serum. Hopefully they can find a faster method of production as the current process is slow and only one lab is experimenting with the process at this time.

      Just like marijuana where the chemicals are removed that produce a high and the remaining drug is given to epilpsy patients that have multiple seizures daily that can almost control the condition, everything has a use that is positive.

      Science is remarkable.

  92. Ron P permalink
    August 8, 2014 6:34 pm

    How intereating that this was written July 24th and here it is August 8th and not much has changed. A ceasefire expires and Hama’s begins their rocket attacks because their demands have not been met. Israel sends artillary into Gaza and distroys area where the rockets apparantly originated. One dead and others injured. So after 2 weeks, Gaza is about distroyed by Israel due to the terrorist attacks and the debate continues in many circles as to the response that Israel has taken to the rockets coming from Gaza. And Hama’s continues to place their children and civilians in harms way while the brave leadership that wants to see the jews eliminated hunker down in their safe shelters.

    And then there is the continuing ISIS march through Iraq. Listening to MSNBC provides the listeners with the reason this is happening. Bush 41. We broke it and now what do we do? I question how long should we be blamed for breaking something when the Iraqi’s will not fight for their own country. Only the Kurds want to fight ISIS where they are and our government so far has provided little military support for the Kurds. A few air strikes, but no military arms and they really are our only ally in the region. The current Iraqi government does not seem to want to fight, wonder if that has something to do from the fact that the leadership is Shiite and the territory being overrun is Sunni and Kurds. Wonder what they will do when ISIS begins attacking Shiite territory? And then how will the world handle it when ISIS gpes into Jordan and Kuwait after taking over Iraq?

    But it does seem that Putin has decided to retaliate on the west through economics and not military at this point. Maybe we can get some decently priced chicken since the huge amount of dark meat chicken being sent to Russia will end up on the American market for the next few months. One has to wonder when he will finally invade Ukraine for good and puit that feather back into the Russian axis.

    • Priscilla permalink
      August 8, 2014 10:42 pm

      Ron, during the 2012 Presidential debate on foreign policy ( the one in which Obama sneered at Romney for saying that Russia was our primary geopolitical foe), Romney challenged Obama on whether or not he would negotiate a status of forces agreement with Iraq, which was relatively stable at that time. Most military experts were clear on their opinion that a gradual withdrawal, with a residual presence to discourage sectarian violence and Islamism was the best way to go.

      Apparently, Obama felt that the politics of this were not in his best interests. And, now, I see very little chance that we won’t end up back there, fighting a war, because we refused to stay and keep the peace. The peace that Obama bragged about, by the way.

      Obama does not see himself as a Commander in Chief. He is anti-military, and appears to be incapable of understanding military strategy.

      And why no white meat chicken?

      • Ron P permalink
        August 8, 2014 11:41 pm

        Priscilla, agree with you on Obama and commander-in-chief issue.When he will not even ask about our Marine in a Mexico jail he has verified your commen about his being anti-military.

        But I can’t agree with your position that we will be back in Iraq. I think he will let it fall. He will let Lybia go to the extremist if that continues like it is. Yes we broke it, but I hope we offer arms to the Kurds so they can fight for their piece of ground and I would support arm sales to the current Iraqi government. But we should not send boots on the ground when the Iraqi boots are running away from the fighting.

        Russians prefer the dark meat. We butcher the chickens and the ones that don’t get soaked in a clorine solution to disinfect it are cut up and a large number of the leg quarters are sent to Russia. That reduces the number of legs and thighs on the American market and increases the prices.

        By the way, the journalist on Washington Week on PBS tonight said that Obama and his administration are viewed by others as being “unconfident in foreign affairs”. This coming when speaking to people in foreign embassies in DC. Getting bad when Chris Mathews is attacking him on not doing much in the middle east and PBS is attacking him as being unconfident. May his not being confident in his froeign affairs is due to incompetence.

        ya’ think

      • Priscilla permalink
        August 9, 2014 8:40 am

        You may be right about letting Iraq fall. It’s so discouraging to see the US with such a rudderless foreign policy right now. Or, I suppose, more accurately, no foreign policy at all….just reacting to events in the short term, and based on how they are reported. The idea that the POTUS is a detached observer of world events is actually pretty bizarre, but I guess that the tactic of portraying the President as an “outsider” workin’ (“g” dropped intentionally) for the folks, against The Man, has worked as a strategy in domestic politics…….

        I did have to laugh (ruefully, but I did laugh) the other day, when Wolf Blitzer seemed to be concerned that the difficult decision on whether to come to the aid of the Yazidis was pressing down on Obama just as he was about to leave for Martha’s Vineyard. God forbid he did not get there in time for his well-deserved vacation.

      • August 9, 2014 9:09 am

        The bar has been lowered so much for Obama that it makes it quite clear how well affirmative action has worked. This guy is simply the worst and the fact that the fawning media still believe him to have some giant intellect simply boggles the mind.

        If he is the sharpest knife in the drawer, we are really in big trouble.

      • Ron P permalink
        August 9, 2014 11:25 am

        History will rate how this president has performed after many years when his decisions have run their course. In many instances, Presidents are rated based on their foreign policy decisions and not so much on domestic issues. Kennedy (Cuban missle crisis), Johnson (Viet Nam), Nixon (China) Carter (Iran) Reagan (Soviet Union) Bush 41 (Iraq/Kuwait) and Bush 43 (Iraq). With Nixon and Reagan these achievements happened in the second term or at the end of the first terrm after their domestic programs were in place and they could devote attention to foreign policy where the constitution gives specific authorization to the president to conduct the business of the United States.

        One can only wonder where Obama will end up compared to these presidents when he has taken it upon himself to conduct domestic policy contrary to the controls of the constitution placed on the president while almost ignoring foreign policy and allowing the US to become a second rate nation in the eyes of friends and foes around the world.

    • dhlii permalink
      August 10, 2014 12:59 am

      Are there sane people who listen to MSNBC ?

      The current mess in Iraq can not be blamed on any of the Bush’s

      Obama ran on a pledge to get us out quickly, had he done so AND things quickly degenerated into the current mess it MIGHT have been arguable, that mistakes of past presidents made that inevitable. Not an argument I would have bought, but still one that could be made.

      Having remained in Iraq and afghanistan for 5+ years, not the 18months he promised.
      Pres. Obama owns the choice to remain, and the responsibility for the consequences.

      The only reason to remain is the understanding that leaving would cause the kind of mess we have now, and YOUR OWN judgement that remaining would prevent the mess we have now. Obama chose the withdrawl timetable. He owns the consequences.

      Further Obama chose to be president, he accepted the job he made the decisions, he owns the results. We expect our leaders to be prescient. Particularly progressives who actually beleive government is an important for for good.

      Our leaders do not get to demand the job because they are cocksure they are better at solving these problems than the rest of us, and then when things go to hell tell us in hind sight the problems were too big no one could solve them.
      If you want the desk in the oval office you are expected to succeed – even where others might fail. Those who choose to seek to be our leaders should nto be judged as we would judge ordinary men – but on the terms they set for themselves. On those terms Pres. Obama has been a failure. The US is less respected throughout the world than during the Bush administration, past finally getting Osama Bin Laden our handling of foreign affairs is worse – and that was not easy to accomplish.

      We can fight over what Pres. Obama inherited – but he under took the task, made promises in order to get elected and failed to deliver – worse did the job badly.

      • August 10, 2014 10:00 am

        Done and done. Spot, on. Great post indeed.
        It is time for the media to hold this man-child accountable for something.

      • Priscilla permalink
        August 10, 2014 10:45 am

        That was a really great post, Dave.

        The thing is, assigning blame in politics and world events is super -easy, and it can go back as far as you want it to go. I read a really interesting piece the other day, which asserted that Europe’s current problems can be traced back to the causes of WWI…..and, of course, it has long been the conventional wisdom to say that unresolved issues after WWI caused WWII. How often do we hear that racial issues in America can be blamed on slavery and Jim Crow?

        What the media has done in recent years is to focus all of its attention on rhetoric as opposed to facts. The only way to hold anyone accountable for anything is to focus on factual evidence, yet, in their intense desire to protect an administration that they believe – or believed – in so ardently, the media has not only abrogated its own responsibility to report facts, but it has enabled the President and his party to avoid responsibility for almost everything that has occurred during his administration, simply by playing the blame game.

        Can you imagine if the media were this compliant during the Nixon administration?

        And, I do want to address a point that Roby has made in the past when this topic comes up – which is that the American media is still far and away more free than the state-controlled media in, say, Russia. That is very true. The bias in the US media is largely a product of cronyism (think George Stephanopoulos) not iron-fisted censorship. But that is cold comfort, if the goal is journalistic integrity and freedom of the press.

  93. August 9, 2014 7:55 am

    I believe it was Barak Hussein Obama who declared that “we are leaving Iraq with a stable democracy, a secure nation” or words to that effect. Didn’t he also declare that Islamic terrorists were “decimated.”

    It looks like he was wrong again.

  94. Priscilla permalink
    August 12, 2014 9:42 pm

    So, I was just warming up to Obama (ok, not really, but I was starting to agree with some of those who said that no matter what he does in Iraq, he will be “wrong”)…

    And then he goes and makes a comment about the kid that was shot in St Louis. As if his opinion helps in a racially charged local situation. To his credit, he urged “reflection” as opposed to saying that the kid could have been him, or his son, but…..come on! Doesn’t he have enough shit going on, with the world going crazy? Let Missouri law enforcement handle this.

    Anyway, what does everyone think about the Iraq situation? My feeling is that we’d better deal with ISIS now or we will have a bigger problem going forward.

    • Ron P permalink
      August 12, 2014 11:46 pm

      Priscilla..Did you think I could pass up a chance to comment!!! Right now I think he is doing the right thing with the aid to those stuck on the mountain, his decision to provide arms to the only Iraqi;s that will fight (the Kurds who do not think of themselves as Iraqi’s) and the political behind the scenes work to get Maliki out of the PM position. Many think it is just a matter of time (a few days) that Maliki will either leave on his own or he will end up like other middle east leaders that won’t go. Once that happens and the new PM puts in place a new cabinet that everyone thinks will be what was expected when their constitution was ratified, then the Iraqi army will get involved and eliminate much of the 10000-15000 ISIS members. That needs to happen before Al Qaeda teams up with them again which will make them much stronger.

      Whatever happens it will take allied air support and US intell to make the Iraqi army potent enough to defeat them on the ground. Best bet is 50-50 it will happen.

      One can only imagine the damage and deaths that will occur if and when ISIS blows the Mosul damn they control.

      As for Obama’s decisions and if they are right or wrong, one just needs to remember the joke that even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then. Maybe this is the nut for him to find.

  95. August 13, 2014 10:16 am

    Eric Holder announced that he has launched an investigation, of the corps of course. The looters and rioters are apparently not much of a concern to him.

    • Ron P permalink
      August 13, 2014 11:13 am

      We only have 25 months left of this awful administration. I won’t even call it incompetent as those that are incompetent are trying to do the right thing. Carter and his administration was incompetent, but at the time they were trying to do what was right for America. This president and his gang are doing anything but what even remotely could be considered the right things for America.

      After this president leaves office and the decisions they make come home to roost, people see what impact they have had on our country and historians rate this president, one has to wonder if blacks will rue to day that this black man became the first black president. He may be the only black president for years to come due to his political positions and decisions.

  96. Priscilla permalink
    August 13, 2014 10:23 pm

    According to news sources, the Marines and Special Forces are already on the ground on Mount Sinjar. This is “boots on the ground,” but, under the circumstances I think it is absolutely necessary to prevent the ongoing genocide in Iraq, as well as to begin to crush ISIS. Air power alone will not get it done.

    If there has ever been an apt analogy to 1938, this is it, as far as I am concerned. We can take the road of Neville Chamberlain, or we can destroy this genocidal army of radical Islamists now.

    If our hapless Commander -in-Chief has at last been persuaded that this needs to be done, and has ordered the US military do it, then I support him (at least in this) 100%.

    • Priscilla permalink
      August 13, 2014 10:54 pm

      My “take the Neville Chamberlain road” is not really accurate. I don’t see anyone attempting to appease ISIS/ISIL. But I do think that there is a “wishful thinking” aspect to the belief that we can defeat an evil like this without force. And I think that, at the moment, the world wants to see Islamism defeated. Wait too long, and that could change, as the balance of power shifts……

      • Ron P permalink
        August 13, 2014 11:50 pm

        Priscilla, how many years have they been fighting a religious war or one that those fighting base on a religion in the middle east?

        This is going to have to be an Iraqi military effort with just allied air support since this is going to go on for many years unless someone like Saddam Hussein that is as ruthless as ISIS becomes the leader of Iraqi and treats ISIS like they treat the civilians. Maybe when a few of them are headless, the others will run when they see the troops coming.

        We can not go back in. The same thing is going to happen in Afghanistan when we have pulled the majority of our troops. The handful of soldiers we leave will not be able to do much when the tribal leaders in that country decide its time for the Taliban to take over.

        The radicals in the middle east will never be defeated until the more moderate Islam leaders and countries decide to defeat the radical themselves.

      • Priscilla permalink
        August 14, 2014 9:48 am

        The problem, as I understand it, Ron, is that, by leaving Iraq as we did, with no SOFA, we encouraged and enabled the ISIS invasion. And the Islamists, for all of their faults, have at least been brutally honest about their intentions all along: create a caliphate, destroy Israel, and destroy the US.

        Why no airstrikes while ISIS marched into Mosul? Apparently they came in on a single road, and could have been blown to bits. We never gave the Iraqis any serious air capabilities, so it was not possible for them to do it- but we could have, and Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran and the rest would have gladly stepped aside and let us destroy the jihadi monster that they had created. Now, unfortunately, that monster controls territory and resources that they can use more aggressively.

        Moderate Islam leaders (I always feel these days as if that is an oxymoron) do not have the will to defeat the radicals. Over the course of the last few generations Wahhabism has become the dominant form of Islam, and it is not moderate. If we don’t do something, no one else will. Or we can wait.

        Anyway, apparently the news reports that I read were incorrect. No ground operation is happening, at least not yet, and we are apparently too late to save the Yazidi. Ugh, I am not optimistic this morning……

      • Ron P permalink
        August 14, 2014 11:36 am

        Priscilla.. Lets start with the real problem and then work forward. The real problem started when Bush invaded Iraq and took out Hussein. He was the “foundation of calm” in the middle east with the help of the no fly zone. Then Iraq selected the official we had supported to become Prime Minister (great choice). That Prime Minister then refuses too allow American troops to stay in his country and not be covered by Iraqi laws and we refuse to allow our troops to be subject to laws that we would not follow in this country. This had to be during a time of war when a soldier could be accused of a crime when carrying out his duties to our military.Then that Prime Minister allowed Iraq to split into factions and the Kurds and Sunni’s basically abandoned the government since that Prime Minister accused his Sunni government leaders of all kinds of crimes, just because they were Sunni’s. Maliki then abandons the north that is Kurd and Sunni territory. Many of Hussein’s army officers (Sunni) turn to supporting ISIS and many enlisted men in the Iraqi army go AWOL since there is little support for the Iraqi army fighting in the north. ISIS has a free road ahead to take territory and wreck havoc on those in there way. Iraq picks a new PM after months of pressure from the USA for Maliki to leave and somehow we agree to begin air strikes and some Special Forces on the ground to help the Yazidi’s. We also agree to arm the Kurds who are now moving ISIS back with the help of American bombs.

        So we break Iraq, we leave, the muslims can’t get their S*&t together because the Sunni’s and Shiite’d have fought for thousands of years and extremist take over part of the country. We lost a few thousand and many more severely injured. Now we need to go back in (iraq 3.0) and clean up another mess. If we do that, how long will it be until the next round (Iraq 4.0) that America is expected to fix another problem between Sunni’s and Shiite’s because they only know fighting and not compromise..

        And don’t forget we have Afghanistan 1.0 going on and we will be looking at Afghanistan 2.0 in a few years when the extremist take back that country, giving terrorist another stronghold.

        When does the lost American lives stop?

        There is no good answer, especially when there are many American citizens now fighting with ISIS who will be returning to the US for one purpose only. Stopping ISIS in Iraq will have no effect on that.

      • Priscilla permalink
        August 14, 2014 11:53 am

        I think that things can be seen from different perspectives, Ron. From what I recall, it was widely reported that Obama used Maliki’s initial refusal to grant immunity to US troops as an easy excuse to pull out completely without a SOFA. Most thought that it could have been negotiated, but that Obama did not want to negotiate.

        The other thing is this: looking at Iraq in a vacuum, without the prism of the overarching War on Terror that created it in the first place, makes it very easy to frame it as a regional war that we are getting involved in. I think that it is naïve to do this, when it is clear that one of the goals of the Islamic State is to be at war with us.

        Seen in that context, we are surrendering without a fight, if we refuse to crush this caliphate before it becomes entrenched. Wars do not stop because we say so. They stop when one side is defeated.

    • August 14, 2014 3:40 am

      Never will happen. Obama will not destroy the Islamofascists. This is simply window dressing.

      • Priscilla permalink
        August 14, 2014 9:49 am

        Right again, JB.

      • Ron P permalink
        August 14, 2014 11:45 am

        JB suggestions please as to what the US should do. How many American men and women can we sacrifice for Iraq again? Since March 03, we have had 4,500 killed and 32,000 wounded. What’s an acceptable number to add to these figures in eliminating ISIS?

      • August 14, 2014 12:01 pm

        God, I don’t know. Unless someone calls a spade a spade (sorry) this crap with never cease. When you have folks calling Hamas “freedom fighters” the world is clearly going out of its mind. Someone has to call out Islam and essentially tell them: you have lost the right to be called a religion, you are a terrorist cult.

        I wonder why in the world the UN, EU, and NATO exist if not to try to set some bounds of acceptable behavior, world-wide. I think cutting the heads off of children qualifies but apparently not. Ditto, that crap that is going on in Africa with the other muslim butchers. Not a peep from Obama, the UN, or anyone else for that matter.

        Slaughter everywhere and Obama plays Golf. Is this anyway to lead a country?

        If I could solve this one, I would be the first one to offer up the solution.

  97. August 14, 2014 12:03 pm

    The war on terror is over. Obama said so. He also said that Iraq was in fine shape. I guess he was wrong, no?

    • Priscilla permalink
      August 14, 2014 12:40 pm

      Well, he is almost always wrong, but, as Ron said, even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then (there is also the broken clock that is right twice a day, another appropriate cliché)…..

      On matters of war, I tend to put more faith in the military that in politicians. We are, no doubt, a very war weary nation right now, and we have always had a isolationist streak, which has been readily apparent in the run-up to every major war of the last century. So, from a political viewpoint, we should not be involved in any more wars. I get that.

      But most military leaders, contrary to the way they are often portrayed, hate war far more than any politician. I think it was Eisenhower who said that soldiers are the only ones who really understand the brutality and the stupidity of war.

      So, when the military says that we can and should decimate this enemy now, rather than dither around any longer, while it gains strength, I tend to listen. The Pentagon is already saying that airstrikes now are too little, too late.

      • August 14, 2014 12:45 pm

        The biggest issue I see here is that even if you can “justify” military intervention (I can’t) how do you figure out who to kill? Seriously, how much different are the Shite from the Sunni?
        The Kurds may be the only group that appears to want to be left alone and I am not even sure of that.

      • Priscilla permalink
        August 14, 2014 1:24 pm

        Well, for one thing, I think we have to stop thinking of ISIS as a rag-tag bunch of jihadis, and start thinking of them as an organized army, which they are, who have a stated goal of acquiring territory and resources for the purpose of establishing an Islamic caliphate and continuing the war on the great and little Satans. They have plenty of enemies in the Middle East, who rightfully fear their radical religion and aggressive intent. We need to help their enemies destroy them. The enemy of our enemy is our friend right now, even if only temporarily. In that sense, I agree with Ron that we need to get the Muslim world to do it “themselves”…..but they’ll need unequivocal military support from us – which the Kurds and the Syrian opposition have repeatedly asked for. So, let’s give it to them, since it is in our best interests not to have a jihadi state in Iraq. Why the hell did we expend so much blood and treasure in Afghanistan to deteat the Taliban? Even Obama agreed that that was the “right” war. Now, we’re just going to piss it all away?

      • August 14, 2014 1:48 pm

        Not sure why you conflate the Syrian opposition with ISIS? Do we really need another change of government in the Middle East. Will the Syrian opposition really up being better than Assad?

        Don’t know, just asking.

        Again, I think the Kurds might be the only reliable group there. They seem to want to be left alone. That is not a bad thing.

      • Priscilla permalink
        August 14, 2014 2:05 pm

        JB, the Islamic State is headquartered in Syria, where it has gained strength and power ever since Obama backed away from his “red line,” earlier this year. Its army has successfully moved on Iraq, given the golden opportunity to acquire territory, billions of dollars and take over military installations that the US left when it withdrew.

      • Ron P permalink
        August 14, 2014 6:40 pm

        JB.. I have heard that many many years ago when the smart white man from the west decided to divvy up the middle east, the Kurds wanted Kurdistan separate. They have always wanted it separate and have always been more aligned with the west. Westerners knew better, so instead of dividing iraq up into separate countries based on religious influences, they decided to divide it based on some other basis. So they have Syria that is Sunni, Iran that is Shiite, Saudi Arabia that is Sunni and a bunch of little kingdoms that are one or the other. Then there is Iraq that will never be at peace because the Sunni’s believe that Mohammad picked one leader to lead the muslims upon his death and the Shi’a believe he picked his son-in-law Ali to lead the Muslims. That was way back in the 600’s BC and they have been fighting ever since.

        So anyone who thinks they can install a government in Iraq and have peace in that country without a dictator like Hussein is high on something.

        And if our military leaders believe we need to send boots to fight ISIS, then I say to them, you go and fight at the head of the line with our soldiers. Don’t sit one your fat ass in Washington and tell our men and women to go die for a country that could care less and will end up being ruled by radicals no matter what we do. Its easy to run your mouth and let someone else be in harms way.

      • August 14, 2014 9:23 pm

        Ron, I could not agree more with your last statement. The first Hawk in DC should be the first boot on the ground.

      • Priscilla permalink
        August 14, 2014 2:14 pm

        And, in answer to your question about the Syrian opposition….yeah, there are no real “friends” in the Mideast. Enemies of enemies, that’s basically it.

  98. Priscilla permalink
    August 14, 2014 11:07 pm

    Obama said: “The bottom line is the situation on the mountain has greatly improved and Americans should be proud… We do not expect there to be an additional operation to get people off the mountain.”

    Oh, good. I’m so proud. (Parents cutting themselves to allow their children to drink their blood were unavailable for comment)

    • August 15, 2014 8:14 am

      According to the BBC, our bombing had nothing to do with the kids getting off the mountain. It appears they had largely gotten off BY THEMSELVES before the bombing had time to have an impact.

      Perhaps Barry should listen to the BBC instead of Chuck Hagel?

      Oh, maybe he doesn’t get NPR on the golf course?

    • Ron P permalink
      August 15, 2014 11:49 am

      Priscilla, I understand the concern that you have for any children placed in this type of situation. But I also want to point out that many children die daily around the world in countries that are much closely aligned with the US than Iraq today from starvation and dirty water. The only problem is those kids don’t make the news because it is not newsworthy and headline grabbing situations.

      So how do we make the determination to send troops to one part of the world to save kids on a mountain and then ignore other kids in another part of the world that are suffering from the same grave conditions. For instance, just a few miles off our Florida coast:!

      And then you can search “starvation in Africa” or “starvation in latin America” and find many articles on people and kids dying from lack of food, clean water and disease we have basically eliminated in the US.

      So I understand your concerns, but where do we make the decision to intervene and where do we make the decision to not intervene in a country’s problems? If the Iraqi’s will not intervene into their own problem and send their men to fight ISIS and rescue those people, do we have the responsibility as the worlds peace keeper to do it?

      In today’s environment, I say we do not. Only when there is a concerted effort by all the free, rich, well fed nations around the world should we become a part of any military effort to rid Iraq of ISIS and that is more of a support role to the first in line Iraqi army. If they won’t stand in line first to do it themselves, then we should not be involved.

      Maybe our efforts should go to a country that has more national pride that needs our help in reducing starvation and deaths from curable disease.

      • Priscilla permalink
        August 17, 2014 10:08 pm

        Well, I pretty much agree with everything that you’ve said there, Ron, except that, in this particular case, with the Islamic State pursuing a clear policy of genocide toward the Yazidis, as well as stating that they wish to pursue a similar policy against other religious groups, I don’t know that I agree with your comparison. It seems to me the same as saying that we should not have tried to liberate Nazi concentration camps( I know you are not saying, by the way)

        Anyways…… to tie together some unrelated threads….JB has posted an excellent column from Kevin D. WIlliamson, who happens to be one of my very favorite political writers. Williamson has taken a position very similar to yours and JB’s as far as not intervening in the ISIS takeover of Iraq, which he feels is becoming increasingly inevitable, and throws in Afghanistan as well. He says he would support our fighting over there, but it’s not going to happen, the US does not have the will for lengthy conflicts, so we need to start looking at what our next steps are.

        He says that the real problem is that America is not preparing for the terror war which will be launched on us, once the Islamic State (or whatever it ends up calling itself) has become an entrenched power….and that our unsecured border, the lack of effective transportation security, the vulnerable energy grid, the infiltration of Islamists and other terror supporters into the fabric of the government and the gutting of our military are all clear and present dangers.. Sounds a lot like the 1950’s only these guys are way scarier than the Reds, no?

        I guess I could get on board with a leader who had a plan for real homeland defense, even if it meant no military action abroad. I just don’t understand how we protect ourselves longterm with no military alliances and/or agreements. And those agreements almost inevitably lead to some sort of military engagement.

      • Ron P permalink
        August 17, 2014 11:51 pm

        Priscilla, yes this is a very complicated and dangerous situation no matter what decision is made. If we do nothing, then its sure to turn Iraq into a radical islamic state where terrorist come and go. There is also the issue with Kuwait ending up in the hands of those that take over Iraq. And who knows about Qatar, UAE and other smaller Muslim countries.

        What we find today is a well equipped army that is using many of the arms we left the Iraqi’s since they have turned tail and run, leaving those arms ISIS to use. We now have to distroy those.

        Reports are coming in that the Kurds, with our air support and I would imagine special forces intelligence, have retaken most of the Mosul dam which insures that it may not be destroyed by ISIS at this time.

        The Kurds seem to be the only ones willing to fight as they have their own territory they call home. In Iraq, that is not the same. Iraq is made up of many tribes that claim only a small piece of territory. They are like our American Indians where one tribe controlled the southwest, one in the midwest, some in the south east, etc. And if they were not fighting the Americans moving west, then they were fighting each other. So getting a complete army made up of all Iraqi’s that will be willing to defend the country seems to be a difficult situation for any Iraqi leader.

        As I have said with this situation before, I have no problem providing arms and air support, along with intelligence to the Iraqi’s. If it gets to the point that troops are required, then there better be a large contingency of Euro nation troops there with us as ISIS has not only singled out the USA, they have also identified European countries for elimination. Then we need to make it very clear to the Iraqi’s that we are there to stay and bases will be built to house troops, just like we have done in Europe, South Korea and Japan. We can’t be going in, clearing out problems, leaving and 5 years later, going back into a war zone to clear it out again. We went into Kuwait and the information I have is we still have 8 bases in that country.

        We go back into Iraq and we tell the Iraqi’s we are here to stay on our terms, not yours or we don’t go back in for any reason. We tell them that it’s your problem and our country is not open for their citizen to seek asylum (unless they come in through Mexico).

        We can only pray this country elects a very smart and strong leader after having one stupid president followed by an incompetent president. We can afford another one like the past one or the current one.

      • Ron P permalink
        August 17, 2014 11:55 pm

        TYPO>>We CAN”T afford another one like the past one or the current one.

      • Priscilla permalink
        August 18, 2014 8:37 am

        Your American Indian analogy is very helpful, Ron. It’s really hard for people-well, for me, anyway- to comprehend the lack of modern political leadership and nation-state organization in that part of the world. It’s still so feudal in many respects…..Bush clearly became convinced that the US could change that, at least in Iraq, and, honestly, although it is easy to say now, in retrospect, that that was foolish or naïve, we will never really know how it might have played out if we had not done a 180 and left the way we did. One thing does seem clear, and that is that Maliki was probably not the guy we should have supported as PM.

        In any case, maybe the current administration has bumbled into a strategy that might lead to the Kurds holding off the ISIS takeover, at least for now?

  99. August 17, 2014 10:26 am

    Off topic but a very nicely reasoned piece about “white flight” and urban conditions. Having lived through this process, I can related very well.

  100. Ron P permalink
    August 25, 2014 7:23 pm

    Well I decided to come back to this article and comment on what was reported tonight on the news.
    1. Russia crossed the Ukrainian border (without permission) to deliver aide (?) to the eastern part of the country.
    2. Israel and Hama’s renewed shelling and bombing of each other.
    3. Bashar Al-Assad said that the US could strike in Syria if they coordinate with his government to fight ISIS.
    4. Egypt and the UAE struck Libya using their air forces to eliminate the possibility of another ISIS breakout unit taking control of that country.
    5 Britains defense minister said this weekend there are no plans for any coordinated efforts in the middle east with the US.
    6. The pentagon announced that ISIS is more dangerous and poses more danger to the US than Al Qaida and the only way to eliminate ISIS is to take them out in Syria.

    Now why are these important. In each one, the leadership of the US was left out of the conversation and was non-existent.
    1. Putin decided to invade(?) Ukraine knowing the US would do nothing and say little about that action.
    2. Israel has decided the US can not be relied upon for much of anything.
    3, We are caught off guard when the enemy of our enemy says he is inviting us in.
    4, Egypt and the UAE decided the US is impotent in the middle east and could care less as to the reaction of the US when they attacked Libya. It will be reported in tomorrows papers that the administration knew nothing of these attacks until after the fact. This follows many years where the US was the first to know of any actions taken by friendly nations in the middle east on others in the area.
    5. Even the europeans know we can not be counted on in foreign policy, so they make statements well before anything happens to counter any proposals that this administration may make.
    6. The administration spokesman announces that the pentagon really did not mean what they said. (They said more, but more words just meant they were overruling the Secretary of Defence and chairman of the Armed forces.)

    Thank god Obama spends as much time on the golf course as he does. can you imagine the mess we would have if he were involved in anything going on?

  101. February 14, 2015 7:20 pm

    You surmised that Hamas. has been incessantly shelling Israel, and deserves retaliation. Remember that Israel is the only nuclear capable nation-state in the MidEAst, but noone is supposed to know about this. Israel has largely. been the predator in Gaza and has mercilessly bombed villages to the ground, killing women and children indiscriminately. Israel also responds in grossly disproportional attacks on Gaza for the murder of 1 or 2
    Israeli teenagers. Their bombings destroy infrastructure and businesses in Gaza, and the people efforts to rebuild, such as bringing in construction materials, tools, etc.are blocked or delayed by Israeli Defense Forces. Additionally, few of Hamas rockets reached the cities and did minimal damage to property and persons. Israel’s missile deterrent system interceoted and disabled a majority of Hamas’ rockets.-

    • February 14, 2015 7:31 pm

      Yeah, you first assertion shows exactly how wrong you are. It is absolutely no secret that Israel has nuclear weapons. A short trip via Google would have told you that. The rest of your assertions are rubbish as well.

      • February 14, 2015 7:59 pm

        May i ask, from what sources do you get your information on workd affairs and politics. The mainstream media will always give the Western version of events, and dismisses any alternate views. and reportage. Think about it, why is Israel conducting frequent offensive military incursions into Gaza. and is it for defensive purposes? And just where ar e the provocations coming from?

      • February 14, 2015 11:05 pm

        You made an assertion that no one knows that Israel has nuclear weapons. It took me less than a minute to refute that statement.

        Where do YOU get your information from? The ball is in your court.

    • February 15, 2015 12:55 am

      Andy, you have made some allegations, but you have not provided any documentation to back up these claims.

      First of all, anyone has to be living under a rock or completely out of the current affairs to not know Israel has nuclear weapons, so maybe it is not published by Israel that they have them, but your allegation that no one knows is untrue.

      2. “Israel has largely been the predator in Gaza and has mercilessly bombed villages to the ground, killing women and children indiscriminately.” …..Can you back this up with any published information from reliable sources. When I say reliable I mean sources without an agenda to promote.

      3.”Israel also responds in grossly disproportional attacks on Gaza for the murder of 1 or 2 Israeli teenagers”…… Again whats your support?

      4.”Their bombings destroy infrastructure and businesses in Gaza, and the people efforts to rebuild, such as bringing in construction materials, tools, etc.are blocked or delayed by Israeli Defense Forces. Additionally, few of Hamas rockets reached the cities and did minimal damage to property and persons. Israel’s missile deterrent system intercepted and disabled a majority of Hamas’ rockets”…… I hear many stories about the blockade of supplies due to the fact that Hamas and other Islamic organizations are smuggling arms and other military hardware into Gaza to use against Israel. Is this not true? and if not, please provide a link to information to support your claims.

      We all make comments on this site based on our personal views about our politics and some of those may or may not be supported by documented proof. When we say Obama is a “socialist”, it is one persons view based on decisions he has made in government programs. But what you have said is not based on a view of a persons or organizations position. You have made concrete claims that Israel is the aggressor in the middle east and indiscriminately kills innocent people for no reason. When those claims are made, I want documented proof, not some comments that appears to be made by an extremist Islamic follower that has hate in their heart for all Jews, which in my opinion seems to be the case here.

      It is not the Jews that want to eradicate the followers of Islam, it is the followers of Islam that want to eradicate the Jews.

    • Priscilla permalink
      February 15, 2015 11:07 am

      Andy, There have been over 4000 rockets launched from Gaza at Israel,just in 2014 alone, the vast majority of them intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system. In addition, close to 40 tunnels from Gaza into Israel, built to facilitate terror attacks and ground operations by Hamas were discovered and destroyed in the “military incursions” that you imply were unprovoked. I recall Israel stating clearly that these military operations were for the purpose of destroying Hamas’ ability to attack, and that operations would end when that goal was attained, albeit temporarily.

      And, I am perplexed as well by your assertion that no one knows that Israel is a nuclear power. Everyone knows, and has known for decades.

      Does it ever bother you that Hamas has used the Palestinian people as human shields, using schools and hospitals from which to fire rockets and private homes as arsenals? Or that they Hamas government has stolen literally hundreds of millions of dollars in aid money and supplies meant for their suffering people? Or do you not believe that this is going on?

      • February 15, 2015 11:22 am

        Apparently, Andy was the only one who didn’t know this “fact?”

        “No one is entitled to their own facts!”

        DP Moynahan

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