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Racism Enablers

I posted the following joke on my Facebook page recently;

As you may already know, it is a sin for a Muslim male to see any woman other than his wife naked and if he does, he must commit suicide.

So on October 29th, at 10:00 GMT, all British women are asked to walk out of their house completely naked to help weed out any neighborhood terrorists.

Circling your block for one hour is recommended for this anti-terrorist effort.

All patriotic men are to position themselves in lawn chairs in front of their houses to demonstrate their support for the women and to prove that they are not Muslim terrorist sympathizers.

Since Islam also does not approve of alcohol, a cold 6-pack at your side is further proof of your patriotism.

The British government appreciates your efforts to root out terrorists and applauds your participation in this anti-terrorist activity.

P.S.
If you don’t share this, you’re a terrorist-sympathiser

I shouldn’t have been too surprised, but a rash of stupid broke out.

The dipshittery ranged from accusations of racism and racial insensitivity, to calling me stupid. I’m going to take a minor detour from my broader point to address that "stupid" comment. I can’t think of anything dumber than a person who comes to such a conclusion based on one post you don’t like. That is the epitome of a teenie tiny little mind. And the growing desire to label people (politicians specifically) one thing based on one comment is what’s wrong with America today. FDR would never make it through a primary in America today. He, like every other fucking person on the planet, was complicated. We would never have had one of the most successful and accomplished presidents in our history, if it were up to the simple thinking that more and more Americans favor. I know that nuance is hard. And complicated people make you actually have to use your brain. Bummer.

I say this all the time to the Obama lovers and the Obama haters; stop being such a simpleton. It’s bad for our political discourse.  

Now back to my bigger point. I got an email asking me to take down the joke, which I did. Not because there’s anything wrong with the joke (which is why I’m publishing it again here), but because I wanted to explain the precise nature of the "victory" won by my taking it down (and I couldn’t do that if I didn’t take it down, now could I?)

First, I want to start with addressing the joke itself. I can’t believe this needs to be explained but this is a joke about men. Not Muslim men, but all men. Actually, that’s not true. There is a subtext of broadly mocking religion. The facet of Islam that is being mocked in this joke is precisely as ludicrous as eating a cookie and believing it’s the body of Christ. Religion can be stupid. It can be lovely, but also stupid. As with people, it’s more than one thing. Every single religion on the planet has a significant stupid component. Wanna know who sees the stupid? People who believe in a different flavor of religious stupidity. If your religion can’t withstand my mockery, it’s time to revisit the veracity of your beliefs. I’m not going to get further into the religion part because again, it was a joke about men.

The next paragraph is largely copied verbatim from the reply I sent to the person asking me to take down the post. 

Bad things happen when people play it fast and loose with their "outrage". I wonder when and why we stopped using our brains? Context matters, and my page advocates for equality for everyone, just about every day. I wrote a blog post about the Boston bombing that makes my position clear. I created a whole fucking category just for racism. Before throwing out accusations of racism, consider context because it’s very relevant. When Joe Biden referred to (then) senator Obama as bright, articulate, and clean, he wasn’t being a fucking racist. Wanna know how I knew? Context. He had no history of racism and since I’m not a simpleton, I considered the evidence before coming to my conclusion. If you don’t know the context, go find it. Not knowing or giving a shit about  whether Bill Maher is actually a racist when listening to his jokes makes you the stupid one. 

Being offended carelessly or gratuitously diminishes actually offensive behavior, just like (I make this point regularly) holocaust comparisons diminish what happened during the actual holocaust. We damage ourselves every single time we become outraged gratuitously. And we give people who are actually intolerant something to hang their hats on when we do it.

When you can’t tell the difference between Bill Maher and Rush Limbaugh, you help enable Rush Limbaugh. That’s just a fact.

To be clear, this post isn’t about me and about defending myself. I didn’t do anything that warrants that. This post is about the big picture contribution that careless outrage makes to our society. When you cannot tell the difference between something that is actually racist, and something that probably isn’t, you’re helping the worst people in our society.

This is precisely the same as asserting that both political parties are the same. You enable republicans and their recalcitrance when you say that.    

I think it’s pathetic that we’ve become thin skinned, short sighted, reactionary, and humorless.

I think it’s pathetic that people don’t think, research, and look at context before deciding to be offended.

I think it’s pathetic when people carelessly help those who are actually hateful by giving them cover. But Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh greatly appreciate it.

I took down my post because I want tell everyone who demanded that I do, that Rush Limbaugh thanks you for the assist.

For the sake of my currently unhealthy blood pressure level, I want to end this post on a less pissed off tone. The person who emailed me about taking the post down ultimately agreed with that I said to her, despite my less that congenial tone (sorry about that). I have all the respect in the world for her for reconsidering her position. I myself do it all the fucking time. And if I don’t reconsider my position, that’s purely a result of not having presented with a compelling point that I hadn’t already considered.

So please consider what I’ve said here and ask yourself whether your feelings of being offended are part of the problem, or part of the solution.    

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Moochy McBundy Is Back

Huh. Seems like Cliven Bundy, who wasn’t actually the moocher he appeared to many of us, but merely an advocate for states rights has turned on the state.

One of his cows that was grazing for free managed to get out into the middle of the I-15 highway where it was hit by a car, causing injury to the driver and damage to the car. So naturally, the woman who was driving the car is suing Bundy so that she can recoup her medical costs and cover the cost of the damage to her car. She’s not suing for a king’s ransom or an amount that is outrageous. She’s just asking for $20,000. So Bundy, being the bastion of states rights that he is, claims that the state should be responsible for paying damages because they failed to maintain the free fence on the free land where his cows reside. He’s adamant that the responsibility for keeping his cows contained on federal land belongs to the state. Huh?

He’s not interested in paying his fair share for federal resources and he expects the state to incur the costs associated with his presence, all while to availing himself of the state and federal infrastructure that everyone else is paying for.

It’s weird. It almost seems like this guy doesn’t have any principles other than shirking his responsibilities and getting a getting millions of dollars worth of stuff for free.

Why am I writing about some irrelevant scumbag rancher in Nevada? Because he’s the embodiment of both republicanism and libertarianism; I got mine *and* I got yours but fuck if I’m not convinced that you’re taking my stuff. Libertarians just don’t want to pay taxes, but they also first world infrastructure. Republicans share that idiotic thinking while insisting that everyone else has their hands in their pockets. That’s pretty much it in a nutshell. This is what we’re dealing with; selfishness and greed.

It’s no accident that one by one, each republican "hero of the day" is exposed as a self entitled loser (let’s not forget George Zimmerman whose bootstraps have left him homeless). This is who they are, and these are the values they revere.

Moochy McBundy is everything that the republican party have become. That’s the only reason he’s relevant enough to write about.    

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Replacing McD’s Workers With Computers?

The dumbest thing I’ve ever heard is that McDonald’s will replace it’s employees with computers before they pay them $15 per hour. This came to mind when this heaping pile of stupid showed up in my G+ feed;

 

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What is that idiocy based on? The wave of automation that swept through the fast food industry in Denmark where the minimum wage is $20 per hour or Australia where it’s $15 per hour(converted to US)?

Let me tell you a story of something I saw with my own lying eyes. Sometime more than 15 years ago (I haven’t lived there in 15 years) when I lived in northern CA, I had to give a presentation in Palo Alto. That was a 20 mile drive for me and since I was running late, I didn’t have time to eat that day. I just jumped into my car and hoped to get to Palo Alto with enough time to grab some fast food. So I get to Palo Alto, and I see an Arby’s (it was actually Menlo Park, but same diff). In the grand scheme of fast food, that seemed like the least disgusting option so I went in. There were no cashiers, just three computer terminals. I went to the first one and it didn’t work. The second machine also didn’t work. The third and final option worked.

I found the whole thing creepy and isolating. Now that was a long time ago, so maybe that creepy feeling wouldn’t happen for most people today since we’re plugged in all the time, but those machines are still going to break. Publicly accessible hardware breaks often and early.  Ever been on a plane with a frozen screen and wondered why they can’t keep up with your smartphone, which works nearly all the time?

Anyway, I went back to that Arby’s about a year later, just to see if the screens were still there. They were gone and I’ve never seen that setup in silicon freaking valley (or anywhere else) since. If this were viable, I’m pretty sure the genius executives at McDonald’s who insist they’re worth thousands of dollars an hour more than everyone else who works for the company, would have figured it out over the span of (at least) fifteen years.

A hardware engineer makes six figures. A software engineer makes six figures. The network engineers and the system administrators all make six figures. So one engineer (of any variety) for one year makes what one fast food worker makes in eight years. If you double the salary of the fast food worker, it will take them four years to make what one engineer makes in one year.   

How do these idiots think this is going to be an attractive alternative for the fast food industry? What kind of magical math replaces 10 fast food workers with three engineers and comes out ahead? Honestly, is any thought at all put into these inane comments? Or is the burning need to punch down all the thought needed to come up with this shit?

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Fast Food Worker Scumbags!

If you weren’t angry with these damned moochers before, wait until you get a load of what they’re trying to pull now. These scumbags who, despite having exactly the same opportunities as everyone else in the country, refuse to pull themselves up by the bootstraps. So instead of working hard, they’re coming up with new ways to rob the rest of us.

Their latest maneuver might be the most underhanded thing they’ve ever done, and you should hate them even more than you did before. In order for you to fully appreciate the depravity of these shameless takers, I need to give you the back story. They made up a thing they call "wage theft". This isn’t a real phenomena, but rather a ruse that’s designed to garner sympathy from hard working Americans (just like that "white privilege" myth). Anyway, what they call "wage theft" I call shrewd business acumen. It’s when a franchise owner forces an employee to (for example) pay for their uniform (not legal), pay for any shortage in their register (not legal), get straight time pay for overtime hours (not legal), or work without clocking in (not legal).

There’s a bleeding heart liberal "study" that estimates that wage theft (if it existed) costs each worker an average of $2,634 a year. To that I say, so fucking what? That still leaves them with $12,011 a year to live on. 84% of fast food workers "claim" they’re being "robbed" by their "employer". Oh wait, those last quotation marks were a mistake so just ignore them. I don’t know where these people get their sense of entitlement, but if they don’t like it, they can free market themselves another job. And another one, and another one, until they find a fast food employer who will steal a more acceptable percentage of their wages. Or they can get a second or third job. These lazy moochers who can’t see that there’s a whole 128 hours a week available for them to work after they’re done with the first 40 hours are getting what they deserve. Better yet, why don’t they just get some college money from their parents, so that they can get some skills that actually make them worth a damned? Fucking moochers.

Anyway, they didn’t just stop at making up theft and finding some hippy dippy liberals to back them up with a "study". NO, they’re far more insidious than that. McDonald’s workers in three states (California, Michigan, and New York) had the audacity to file class action law suits against the McDonald’s corporation for these alleged "stolen wages". So now, they’re mooching federal resources and draining our court systems of time that we all pay for. These losers really steam my beans!

The McDonald’s corporation correctly asserts that they have no control over the labor practices of their franchisees, and that the workers need to take it up with each individual franchise owner. Well duh! Of course the corporate entity isn’t responsible. I mean, just because a big chunk of those profits end up there, doesn’t mean that Corporate is responsible. These idiots think that they can just follow the money. With this sort of limited intellectual capacity, I say they’re overpaid at $7.25 an hour.

So back in July, the top attorney for the National Labor Relations Board determined that Corporate exerts so much control over their franchisees, that they are ultimately responsible for what happens in their "restaurants" (oops, there I go with the erroneous quotation marks again; please ignore). Now mind you, no court has found this outrageous assertion to be true yet, so it’s clearly part of the conspiracy. These mooching minimum wage workers have found themselves some powerful lobbyists to assert their influence over the National Labor Relations Board. SCUM! Since this matter is on its way to court, the poor McDonald’s corporation (in partnership with the International Franchise Association who represents all franchises) have no choice but to fight back against the powerful minimum wage worker lobby. I say good for them! Someone needs to fight back against this kind of tyranny otherwise, who knows what kind of world we’re going to be leaving for our kids?

So the corporate fast food entities have scraped together their limited resources (and pennies) to send the International Franchise Association to meet with John Boehner and Republican Governors Association head (and Mississippi Gov.) Haley Barbour, who are going to introduce legislation to make sure that Corporate can’t ever be held liable for the shrewd business maneuvering of their franchisees. And those fucking liberals have the nerve to claim that republicans aren’t interested in job creation! By making sure that the corporate entities aren’t liable for these allegedly "stolen wages", they’re putting more money up at the very top. And the more money that’s sitting at the very top, the bigger the avalanche of trickle down will obviously be. If you needed any more proof that democrats don’t care about creating jobs for you, this is it since the International Franchise Association isn’t meeting with any of them. Still think both parties are exactly the same?

I don’t know about you, but as someone who doesn’t work in the fast food (or any other minimum wage) industry, I believe that stopping these moochers is ultimately good for my own self interest. I get paid a well earned six figure salary to work in the high tech, marketing, or publishing industries. I can tell you from experience that keeping a large segment of society working like dogs, while leaving them with no disposable income at all is awesome for me. Sure, they can’t afford to buy my company’s high tech product or consume the media that another client may produce, or even be worth spending the money to advertise to, which ultimately may leave me without a job because my company isn’t generating enough revenue to pay me. But you know what? I get the soul enriching satisfaction of hating them for being so fucking unskilled. And let me tell you that my hate is so satisfying, it should be a class 1 drug. I don’t care what it costs me to keep my hate. I can lose my job, my family, my friends, but I will always have my hate. I will never let anyone take that away from me.

Do you hear me, moocher minimum wage workers?

You need to use your bootstraps to get yourself out of your minimum wage situation. And by bootstraps, I don’t mean hard work since no matter hard you work, your wages will be skimmed off by your employer (the maker). I also don’t mean that you should turn to the legal system. That’s not for you either. That’s just for the makers. You scum need to know your place in life. And you need to think long and hard about all the mistakes you made to get yourself where you are.

You should have gotten that college money out of mummy and daddy’s couch cushions instead of choosing to be takers. Assholes. You disgust me.                 

 

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The Winning Strategy For Iraq And Syria


Perhaps you noticed my conspicuous lack of opinion on Obama’s announcement that we’re going to bomb our way into peace in Iraq and Syria. There was an odd reason for my silence; I was thinking about it and considering all of the options.

Iraq may be the most complicated situation the world has ever dealt with. There are hundreds of factors that got Iraq to this point, and they keep getting more complicated every day. And they each point to a different solution. Actually, that’s not true. Nothing points to a solution. Each factor points to how a proposed solution won’t work. I’ve written on Iraq and Syria on this blog before Here’s my take in Iraq. Here’s my explanation of how ISIS evolved into what they are today. I ask you to refer to those posts, not because I want to increase my hits for the day, but to give you context on my thinking.

I like reading opinions of people who are smarter than me about any given topic. In other words, I have a few go-to people for middle east issues, economic issues, domestic issues, etc. Everyone I turn to is smarter than me when it comes to their particular area of expertise. In trying to formulate my opinion on Obama’s announcement, I noticed something about what the people who are smarter than me are all saying. No one who is knowledgeable on Iraq and Syria seems to have a solution. I don’t mean that there’s no consensus, I mean that no one I trust and admire has put forth a solution. Most have opinions on what they definitely think is the wrong thing to do, but no clear opinion on what the winning strategy is. Since I’m not as smart as the people I turn to for subject matter expertise, I definitely don’t have a solution. But my opinion is even more murky than not having a solution. I also don’t know what I definitely think is the wrong move.

Some people are against bombing. Some people are fine with bombing, as long as there are no “boots on the ground”. Some people (all happen to be republicans) want to put the Iraq war back into high gear. I’m not vehemently opposed to any of these things. I know what you’re thinking; bitchy must be out of her fucking mind if she’s not opposed to going full throttle back into Iraq. That might be true, but let me tell you my thinking.

I’m going to start with Syria. I’m inclined to believe that bombing is not going to solve the problem, especially when it comes to Syria. Who are we going to bomb? Whose side are we on there? Assad’s? The rebels? If so, which ones? And how is that going to solve the famine problem that started that civil war in the first place? Assad is ultimately going to have to go. Of that, I’m certain. His starving of his people to profit on elevated wheat prices (due to drought) isn’t something that’s going to be forgiven. Nor is there any reason to believe he won’t keep doing it. But nothing else about the Syria situation is certain. In the absence of leadership, anything can happen and ISIS knows it. Because Syria is so completely fractured, there’s really no one to “support”.

Iraq is in a slightly different situation. There’s more to work with in Iraq. Even though there have been splinters, those three factions that have always existed still largely exist. The Kurds, Shia, and Sunni are still distinct groups. And yes, ISIS is a Sunni splinter group, but they’re too extreme for most of the Sunni in Iraq. They’re too extreme for most people in Iraq. The local population isn’t exactly embracing them. I believe that mistake #2, after the granddaddy of all mistakes (killing Saddam), was that we didn’t try and create a three state solution. I don’t mean a three country solution. I mean a three state solution. A country where all three states are represented in the federal government, but with certain powers reserved for the states. Just like we have here. This would give each religious group some autonomy while incentivizing them to work together against outside groups. We fucked up by not ensuring that every faction was going to have a voice in their collective governance. By not doing that, we ensured that no one in Iraq really had something to fight for. The Iraqi military isn’t a mess because they’re incompetent. They’re a mess because they don’t have an actual country to fight for.

That’s why I’m not definitely opposed to going back in and fixing it. I’m not saying that I’m definitely for going back in either, but that would make more sense to me than bombing alone. I think there’s a valid argument for making an earnest attempt to stabilize Iraq by going back in and fixing what we got wrong last time. We really gave them no chance at stability when we left last time. I’m not interested in staying in Iraq in perpetuity, but I think that we should make an attempt to get it right before either killing civilians with our bombs, or walking away and hoping for the best.

I do not believe that Iraq and Syria are an imminent threat to the US. I think it will be years before we’re facing the inevitable imminent threat. They’re going to be too busy fighting each other for control of their respective countries to come after the US. But once they sort that out, I do believe they’re going to be a problem. So we can sit back and do nothing. That’s definitely an option. I’ve said this before; any side that we support is going to be delegitimized by our support. We’ve done so much damage in that area with the Shah in Iran, the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan, Killing Saddam, and countless other fuck ups. They have a legitimate reason to hate us. We’ve been interfering in their business for decades. So even if we figured out who “the good guys” are, our support would by definition make them “the bad guys”. That’s why I believe that if we’re going to do something in Iraq, it must be to take three sides. We need to make it clear that we’re going back in so that we can ensure that all three factions in Iraq share power. 

Doing nothing right now may have disastrous consequences. What if ISIS, or an even more crazy group take control of one or both countries? We’re definitely going to get involved when that happens, right? And by then, the group that takes control will be stronger. They’re all in disarray, and therefore as weak as they’ll ever be right now. I think that if we pick the do-nothing route, we need to monitor the situation very carefully to make sure that no one terrorist group gets too strong to deal with later. So do-nothing definitely leads to do-something eventually. There’s a slight possibility that the people will rise up and emerge victorious against the extremist groups. As I said, ISIS is not popular in either Iraq or Syria. But who is going to arm and fund the people? We’re kind of back to the intervention problem that sounds so unappealing after thirteen years of war.

So yeah, I’m thinking lots of things. None of which I have a strong sense of certainty around. That’s not true, I’m pretty opposed to Obama’s bombing strategy. I just don’t see how that’s going to work. And at the moment that we put one US soldier into combat, I say we put a few hundred thousand into combat. We half assed it with no plan last time. Let’s employ the Powell doctrine combined with an actual goal this time; creating a three state solution. I find that a more palatable solution than slowly moving more troops in without a real mission.

 

Or we can wait. I’m positive I’m not smart enough to have the winning solution. Sometimes, knowing that you don’t know, is the smartest thing to do.             

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No, Pulling Out Of Iraq Didn’t Create ISIS

And don’t let anyone tell you it did. This is the latest republican talking point, and every time a republican delivers it, the sentence mysteriously starts with "the Obama Clinton foreign policy". Huh. It almost seems like they were all told what to say. Unfortunately for them, we have entered a period of time when their revisions of history fall within the parameters of the existence of the internet.

I didn’t know when and where ISIS was formed. I had heard conflicting reports on whether they formed in Iraq or Syria. There’s a meme going around that claims it was formed in 2004. I decided to do something bizarre; rather than forwarding the meme and advancing the notion that ISIS formed in Iraq (because the idea of blaming Bush sounds just swell) without knowing if it was true, I researched. I know it’s a strange concept, but that’s just how I roll.

Here’s what I found; strictly speaking, ISIS was formed in about 2003 in Iraq. Why did I throw in the "about" qualifier? Because it looks like the name "Islamic State" and all of the subsequent derivations, "Islamic State of Iraq" and then "Islamic State Of Iraq And Syria" started in 2006. They were referred to as "the al-Masri brigade" before that. 2003 is the first year I can find any reference to them. That’s not to say that they weren’t definitely brewing before then. I don’t have access to high level intelligence, so I’m relying on all of the information available to the general public. When I say "all", I mean all. I spent days on researching this. 

I’m not going to go into great detail on al-Masri’s biography because I’ve read a lot of conflicting information up to, and including when he died. I’m going to share what is generally agreed upon about him. He was from Egypt, and was involved with the Muslim Brotherhood offshoot that assassinated Anwar al-Sadat in 1981. He spent the 90s forming al qaeda cells in Africa.

It looks like he knew Bin Laden even before the CIA involvement in training and arming the Mujahadeen in the 80s. In 2001, he became related to Bin Laden, when his 14 year old daughter married Bin Laden’s son, Abdullah. He was actually indicted (in absentia) by a US court in 1998 for his involvement in the embassy bombings in Africa. He was directly involved in 911. So the US has been aware of him and his activities for a long time. So this guy had been in the terrorism business for a long time. He just didn’t have the unstable environment he needed to get a foothold and to spread the batshit until we destabilized Iraq and Syria destabilized itself (more on that later in the post).

I’m going to go off on a minor tangent for a minute. During the Clinton presidency, our intelligence community appeared to have a pretty good grip on who the big terrorist players were, and what they were doing. And yet, the Bush administration claims that 911 was a failure of intelligence? Remember when Condi gave this pathetic performance before congress?

 

Yeah, those PDBs (the one they’re referring to in this hearing wasn’t the first, it was the last in a series that began 5 months earlier) were "historical" and not really a warning. So while Clinton was mounting legal cases against, and indicting these guys Bush was ignoring the intelligence and torturing the wrong guy. OOPSIE.

Sorry, I had to take a moment out to demonstrate how fucking incompetent the Bush administration and their posse of neocons were. 911 truly might not have happened under a Gore administration. The Bush administration were fucking clowns and anyone who denies that is a fool.

Okay, back to al-Masri. In 2006, he was tapped to take over as leader of al qaeda in Iraq, when their leader was killed. Now AQI (as they’re known) was a particularly brutal offshoot of al qaeda. Once al-Masri took over, they appear to have been rolled into ISI (they hadn’t moved into Syria yet). You know how you keep hearing that ISIS is too batshit, even for al qaeda? That’s technically true. The more accurate way of describing the situation is that ISIS is so brutal, that they’re not "winning hearts and minds" in any region they go into. As we learned during our tenure in Iraq, not winning hearts and minds isn’t good for business so al qaeda is separating themselves for the purpose of recruitment.

So ISI had been busy working away in terrorizing Iraq since 2006. In 2011, when the Syrian civil war began, ISI saw an opportunity.

Just so that you are clear on the events, I’m going to take a minute to explain what happened in Syria. The Syrian civil war began over famine. Syria had been going through a devastating drought period that shrank the wheat crops significantly, and killed 85% of it’s livestock.Since there was a massive drought in the middle east, the cost of wheat went up precipitously. Assad being Assad saw an opportunity to cash in so he put some of the wheat on the open market. This left Syria starving, and the world community knew it. From the article;

The international community, however, failed to effectively counter this crisis. A confidential cable sent from Syria explained the dire situation, with the Syrian minister of agriculture stating publicly that the economic and social fallout from the drought was beyond their capacity as a country to deal with.

The cable explained how Syria, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, U.N. Development Programme and the World Food Programme requested roughly $20 million from donor countries and donor organizations to provide emergency food aid, restore food production and safeguard agricultural livelihoods. In a direct appeal to Washington, an FAO representative in Damascus even expressed his hope that "improving relations" between the U.S. and Syria might encourage the U.S. to become a donor to the 2009 Drought Appeal.

And the response from the US (from the article);

The U.S. government balked at the appeal, saying: "Given the generous funding the U.S. currently provides to the Iraqi refugee community in Syria and the persistent problems WFP is experiencing with its efforts to import food for the refugee population, we question whether limited USG resources should be directed toward this appeal at this time." In light of America’s lackluster leadership, the world’s response was insufficient: Donor countries only ponied up around $5 million, a quarter of the total need.

That decision would befall congress. I don’t know if the Obama administration attempted to get the money, but I can guarantee that congress wouldn’t have appropriated the funds. We’ve already spent more in Syria than what they were asking for. 

Do you hear that isolationists, libertarians, and Randroids? The Paul family have no pearls of wisdom for you so stop listening to them because they’re idiots who don’t think anything through. Doing nothing is an action that can be as devastating as doing the wrong thing. 

I explain this so that you understand two things;

  • The Syrian civil war is the first of the wars over climate change. Have you ever heard someone say that the next world war is going to be over water? Well, it’s true.
  • The problem that started this whole thing will have to be addressed in order to really clean up the mess in Syria. As long as the Syrian people are starving, there will be no stabilization to be had.    

So when the civil war started in Syria, it created a power vacuum and ISI became ISIS. And that’s how we got here. You now have all the information to combat the bullshit.

And here are some more materials for you to read. I’d never been to this site before, but here’s a fantastic (it even held up to hindsight) analysis of (then) ISI. I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely adding The Long War Journal to my list of go-to places. Here’s a great timeline of ISIS from Stanford. Here’s a 2003 report from The Guardian.

I saved the best for last. Here is a 2007 story about ISI from Fox fucking News. That one is for the willfully ignorant, blindly faithful dumb dumb that you all know. They won’t hear anything else you say, but you can end the conversation by throwing that gem at them.

And here’s one that I’ve posted several times and will no doubt, post several more. Here’s Dick Cheney in 1994, telling you what would happen if we took out Saddam. Here’s a hint; it’s exactly what happened when we took out Saddam.       

         

That one is also a good one to shut up the stupid sycophant in your life. Enjoy!

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Bye Bye Meet The Press

I’m in a good and giving mood today so I thought I would take a moment out to offer NBC some free advice. Meet The Press is toast, and you’re not going to pick up a single viewer with your new posse of hosts. Frankly, this shouldn’t have to be pointed out.

Chuck Todd, who proudly proclaimed that it is not his job to inform the public is not the solution to David Gregory, who made no effort to inform the public.

Let me take a moment out to ask Chuck Todd a question that I’m dying to hear his answer to; why does a stenographer with a camera pointed at them make so much more money than the stenographer sans camera?

But I digress. Here’s the deal; people who don’t want to be informed aren’t watching Sunday morning political talk shows. Again, I’m still flummoxed as to why I have to explain this. So when you spend an hour describing how every side of every issue has exactly the same merit as the other side, no one cares. That false equivalency you’ve created in order to get people to check out of politics, makes them check out of you and your vapid bullshit program.

Also, I can’t for the life of me understand why all of these shows are subversively right wing when they’re not being pathologically "even". Here’s a little tally that Media Matters did of guests on the Sunday morning talk shows.

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"Even" doesn’t really appear to be neutral, does it? All of the networks, with the exception of Fox seem to be missing an obvious fact of the political culture in America; there is no center right in the republican party anymore. The center right (such as it is), now exists in the democratic party. The only options in camp GOP are far right and batshit right. I define far right as the crowd that still clings onto the trickle down canard that’s been thoroughly disproved. They still think that social safety nets are bad for them. The batshit right is the "Kenyan usurper" crowd.

Those are the only two options in the GOP. A moderate approach to anything simply doesn’t exist in the republican party so there’s no one in America who is interested in a slightly right analysis of politics. You either need to go full batshit like Fox, or you need to present empirical facts. Why did I leave out the going-left option? Because any objective course correction for all of the major issues we face, would be (strictly speaking) a leftward change in direction. We’ve so badly fucked up nearly everything with a far right wing approach, that there’s no right to be had without more fucking up. The Bush "doctrine" (I like the implication that there was any thought involved by using the word "doctrine") fucked up the middle east for decades. "Corporations are people, my friends" has thoroughly fucked up our electoral process and our income inequality situation, not to mention creating stagnant wages. There is no credible argument made for fixing our problems by going further right.

Going "democrat" isn’t really a winning direction for Meet The Press either. MSNBC has already taken the position of mouthpiece for the DNC. Liberals don’t much care. They’re not like republicans who love bathing in the message of the RNC. Liberals are inherently different than conservatives. We’re not as interested in being told what our opinions are. We don’t crave an authoritarian figure to be our daddy, telling us what to think and eat. Liberals generally like to think. Not just that, but we like to think that our ideas are better than any other liberal’s ideas. Seriously, trying to get liberals on board with one single solution is like herding cats. My liberal friends all have better ideas than mine. Well, they think they do. You and I both know that my ideas are the bestest in the world. Anyway, that’s why Fox has more viewers than MSNBC.

And frankly, we’re not talking about huge numbers when it comes to cable news. The most viewed show on cable news is O’Reilly with around 2.7 million viewers. That’s pretty insignificant in a country with around 150 million adults. And O’Reilly’s viewers are an average of 68 years old. They’re the spry, young whipper snappers of the Fox viewing audience whose average age is 71 years old. The Sunday morning talk shows are much smaller in terms of viewers. "This Week" is the highest rated show at 890k viewers in the "demo" (25 – 54 years old). These are not culturally relevant numbers we’re talking about.

This new gang of commentators that NBC has assembled for Meet The Press isn’t going to get the ratings job done because they haven’t changed the formula. They just changed the shade of eye shadow on the show. Chuck Todd actually sucks at what he does more than David Gregory did at the same game. Joe Scarborough only had 105k viewers on excruciating three hour long Starbuck’s ad so he’s not going to help. Luke Russert’s brand of frat boy dim wittery won’t come in to save the day. Andrea Mitchell isn’t bad, but I don’t think she’s going to usher in the big ratings numbers.

Sorry NBC, you’re not going to fix anything with the polish you’ve attempted to apply to your turd.                      

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Ferguson’s Biggest Threat Is Ferguson PD

The disturbing news about Ferguson PD just keeps growing and growing. A few weeks ago, I learned that Michael Brown’s shooting was the first murder of the year in Ferguson (see my previous post to understand why I’m justified in referring to it as murder). When I read that, I naturally got to fact checking. I got some crime statistics for 2000 – 2012. Here are the total number of murders for those years:

  • 2000 – 3 murders
  • 2001 – 1 murder
  • 2002 – 1 murder
  • 2003 – 1 murder
  • 2004 – 1 murder
  • 2005 – 1 murder
  • 2006 – 1 murder
  • 2007 – 1 murder
  • 2008 – 1 murder
  • 2009 – 3 murders
  • 2010 – 0 murders
  • 2011 – 5 murders
  • 2012 – 2 murders

I know that sounds like Ferguson is a really safe place to live, but that’s misleading. You have to remember that Ferguson only has a population of 21,000 people so it’s a tiny place. If you calculate those murders in the context of the national average murder rate per 100,000 people, it’s not good. Ferguson is not a particularly safe place to live.

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I bring up this data so that you have the context you need to get to where I got when evaluating the situation in Ferguson. Ferguson has 2.54 officers per 1,000 residents, compared to Missouri’s average of 2.45.

Here’s the big bombshell that makes reading all of that context pay off; five people (including Michael Brown) have been killed by Ferguson PD so far this year. They have shot at sixteen people so far this year.

We’ve still got 1/3 of the year left to go.

That link contains a whole lot of information that I’m not going to go into for the purpose of this post, but you should definitely read it. I want to focus in on murders. In a community that has an average of 1.61 murders per year (over the span I have data for), also has 6.66 police officer killings per year (assuming they keep up their average for the rest of the year).

Be honest; if you lived in Ferguson, would you be more afraid of your neighbor, or the police officer hanging out in front of the doughnut shop?  

 

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No, Libertarians Have Not Fallen Victim To Brain Eating Amoebas

I’ve always maintained that the government does tens of thousands of things for you that you have no idea they do. I’m pretty on top of these things, and there are thousands of things that the government does for me that I’m not aware of so it must be in the tens of thousands for people who believe that government does nothing for them. Libertarians in particular, seem to have a difficult time with believing this. One might conclude that they simply can’t bring themselves to believe in something they can’t see, except that they cling on to their unicorn of Austrian economics like it’s the precious blankie that kept them so safe when they were (yes, I’ve generously chosen to use the past tense) infants.

But I digress. Brain eating amoebas. The government takes care of them for you so that you don’t have to worry about it. I came across this story about St. John the Baptist Parish in Louisiana, where a four year old died as a result of these brain eating amoebas (known by their much less fun scientific name: naegleria fowleri). The CDC (that dreaded government entity that is constantly intruding in our lives) determined that the problem was the amoebas in the water system. Apparently, someone was misreporting the chlorine levels in the water to DHH (the dreaded department of health and human services) and claiming that the required levels of chlorine were present. The actual level of chlorine in the water was zero. So a child died because government regulations weren’t being adhered to. Damned big government!

Anyway, big government in Louisiana has mandated an increase in chlorine into the water supply for the next 60 days. This should kill the amoebas completely and prevent anymore easily preventable deaths. Damned big government! 

But overall, this is good news Louisiana. We finally have an answer to one of Louisiana’s most confounding questions, "where the fuck did our idiot governor come from?"  Since we now have confirmation that he probably crawled out of your unclean water, we know how to prevent the next infection.

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Bush’s Beheadings

So we had a second beheading of another journalist from ISIS yesterday. Fox is (naturally) positive that they know this is all Obama’s fault. Listening to some of them yesterday actually made my ears bleed. The ignorance and complete lack of facts is becoming too hard for me to take. So I’m going to give you my analysis.

This is the Bush administration’s fault.

If I were Fox, that would have been the end of the post and millions of incredibly dim witted people would be very satisfied with that analysis. So satisfied, that they would parrot it to their friends and on social media with the impunity of people who are well informed and intelligent.

But since I’m not Fox and I expect my readers to be more discerning and more demanding that to settle for my opinion, I’m going to do something unconventional by showing you the basis of my opinion. I know! Weird, right? In the interest of keeping this post at a readable length, I’m going to stick to basics.

Let’s start with President Obama and see if we can find a way that this could possibly be his fault. First off, there was a rescue attempt made. It would have been great, had they been successful but these missions usually don’t work out that way so it failed. That’s just an unfortunate fact of life. Here’s what Fox had to say about the rescue attempt;

President Barack Obama’s “hesitation” to make a decision about American reporter James Foley’s rescue mission delayed the failed operation, according to a report.

Personally, I like hesitation and pensiveness. I wish Bush had (ever) partaken because I suspect that things would have turned out better for us if he had. Let me digress for a moment; I don’t understand how a person who writes at a junior high school level gets paid to write things for grown-ups. I’ve never heard of Sarah Hurtubise, who wrote this piece for Fox (she appears to be on loan from the Daily Caller), and I hope that I never do. Look at that sentence structure for a minute. First off, why is hesitation in quotes? Who is she quoting? Or does she maybe think that the word hesitation was erroneously used, and wants to highlight that opinion? But that wouldn’t make much sense because the criticism of the hesitation seems to be the basis of her piece. Maybe there were just some random crayon marks that the transcriber of the piece mistook for quotes? Also, shouldn’t the sentence begin with "according to a report"? Is she Yoda? Seriously, who reads this crap and thinks they’re getting information?

Anyway, enough of my twit rant. Let’s contrast that pile of dung with the way that everyone else reported the story. NBC just put forth the facts. Here’s what happened, here’s our sources, and here’s how it turned out. Newsweek likewise told us what happened, who they spoke to, and how it turned out. CNN, The Washington Post,USA Today, ABC, Business Insider, and every other journalistic outfit presented the facts of what happened. They all used the word "failed" in the headline, which is perfectly fine. It was a failed attempt. The Fox fucks talked about the hesitation without bothering to demonstrate how said hesitation affected the mission. Did the hesitation cause it to fail? Was there a delay that changed the outcome of the mission? Or is the point that hesitation in and of itself a bad thing? Does anyone remember Fox touting how Bush made another huge decision without giving any thought to it? If hesitation is bad, shouldn’t the opposite approach be good? And what kind of critically thinking impaired idiot reads that tripe and walks away feeling informed?

Okay, I spend way too much time on that. Onto the next point. Before the actual beheading of James Foley, Isis demanded cash for his return. They wanted A LOT of cash, and the release of a prisoner. Was President Obama supposed to hand over one hundred and thirty million dollars and a bunch of terrorists? Was that where he fucked up? Would this have satisfied Isis and been the end of our troubles with them? Cause they definitely didn’t want to use that money to do bad things, right?

Okay, so they behead James Foley because President Obama fucked up by not giving them what they wanted. They were thoughtful enough to produce a video with, not only the beheading, but also an explanation of why it happened and a list of things that the US needed to do to prevent the next one. Here are some of the key points contained in the video entitled, "A Message To America". In the video, Foley was made to say,

[The American Government] effectively hit the last nail in my coffin [with the recent airstrikes in Iraq]

He’s referring to the strikes we assisted with to save the Yazidi. Is that where Obama fucked up? By not sitting idly by while Isis exterminates people they don’t like in Iraq? Would abiding by a genocide have been the right course of action?

The charming fellow who actually did the beheading had some tips for President Obama, on how to prevent the next beheading. He’s of the belief that Isis isn’t an insurgency so he refers to them as a "state".

State that has been accepted by a large number of Muslims worldwide.” He threatened: “Any aggression towards the Islamic State is an aggression towards Muslims from all walks of life who have accepted the Islamic Caliphate as their leadership. So any attempt by you, Obama, to deny the Muslims their rights of living in safety under the Islamic Caliphate will result in the bloodshed of your people.

The video concludes with the fighter holding Sotloff in a similar outfit and saying:

The life of this American citizen, Obama, depends on your next decision.

Okay, so allowing Isis let their genocidal freak flags fly unmolested would have prevented the next beheading. Is that where Obama fucked up? By proceeding with bombings even though Isis told him not to? Should he let them be in charge now? They’re bigger than Al Qaeda ever were, with an estimated 50,000 members but President Obama fucked up by not letting them get bigger and stronger?

Where exactly did Obama go wrong, other than being too pensive for Fox’s taste?

Now onto why this is Bush’s fault.

Everyone who knew anything about the middle east was opposed to Bush’s invasion of Iraq. They were opposed because they all knew that getting rid of Saddam would mean that Iraq would splinter into warring factions and come apart at the seams, paving the way for extremist groups to fester. You can Google Russ Feingold, Juan Cole, Reza Aslan, and a slew of other people’s statements about what would happen for yourself (set the search parameters to dates that preceded the invasion), but I’m going to give you just one. Here’s Dick Cheney in 1994, before he lost his fucking mind.

That would be precisely what happened. Isis is an acronym for "The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria". Bush paved the way for Isis, just like Cheney said would happen. But creating the environment in which they could thrive and grow isn’t all that Bush did. He pissed them off and gave them permission to behave barbarically.

Let’s go back to the Foley video. I’m not going to post it (but I did provide a transcript above), and I haven’t watched it so I’m relying on journalism from people who have watched it. In the video, Foley is apparently wearing an orange jump suit, a la Gitmo. That wasn’t an accident. Isis said that it was a statement about Gitmo. Who could have guessed that Guantanamo Bay was going to come back to bite us in the ass? Oh, right. Never mind.

Guess what else Bush did to piss off Isis? I’ll give you a hint; it was Cheney’s precious waterboarding. Thanks to Bush, Isis is doing it to our people with the impunity that only Bush could have given them by doing it first. Again, who could have possibly seen this coming?

So yeah, I blame Bush. I don’t blame Bush because I have a hard on for Obama, who can do no wrong in my partisan hack mind. I blame Bush because Bush is to blame. Ten or fifteen years from now when the children of Pakistan, who grew up under a barrage of drone strikes come for us, I will blame Obama because that will be Obama’s fault.

But not today. Today, we’re living with Bush’s colossal fuck up.                       

 

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