blueollie

Israel and Palestine

Jon Stewart notes that this is a difficult subject to talk about.

And finding genuinely balanced reporting is all but impossible, at least in the US, as Rula Jebreal pointed out on a show with Chris Hayes.

One quibble: I am not so sure that the US siding with Israel more than the rest of the world during this outbreak of violence is due to one-sided reporting.

The US has always had a natural affinity with Israel; the US was the first country to recognize Israel’s existence. For many years, Israel was seen as a romantic underdog fighting off hostile neighbors.

And to be sure, Israel is a more successful country (domestically) than its neighbors, and the horrible human rights record of the surrounding Islamic Republics (their treatment of gays, atheists, apostates, women) doesn’t win the Middle East Muslim community many fans in the US.

Put this together with the fact that Israel has allies in the Democratic party (Jews tend to vote Democrat, especially when one corrects for wealth) and in the Republican party (Christian right wing) and add the fact that Israel has effective lobbying efforts…and you can see the reason for the imbalance.

Even honest, fair reporting isn’t going to change this dynamic..at least not quickly.

July 23, 2014 Posted by | Middle East, social/political, world events | | Leave a comment

Obama Derangement Syndrome

Ok, the airline shoot down was a horrible thing; we need to let the facts come in. It was shot down (BUK?) and we need to know: Russian Military? Rebel forces with Russian equipment?

But..you guessed it; our wingnuts are all over President Obama.

Here, they attempt to compare President Reagan’s response to USSR Air Force fighters shooting down a Korean Air Lines plane to the current President Obama response.

Uh, wingnuts:

1. President Reagan’s address was on September 5, 1983, and the shoot down was on September 1, 1983.

2. The Korean plane was shot down by official Soviet fighter jets; we still don’t know the details of TODAY’s shootdown (who, with what?)

Also, some are jumping on President Obama for…eating lunch and doing other duties?

These people have forfeited the right to be taken seriously; they are a joke.

By the way: I note that they don’t mention the US shooting down an Iranian Airliner while President Reagan was still in office.

July 18, 2014 Posted by | ranting, social/political, world events | | Leave a comment

These things happen in a war: civilian airliner shot down

Yep:

Malaysian Airlines just can’t catch a break. Just four months after flight 380 disappeared somewhere over the Indian Ocean, today brings news that Malaysian Airlines flight 17, traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, lost contact with ground control around the Ukrainian-Russian border. Initial reports say “50 km away from entering Russian airspace, the plane began descending, then it was observed burning on the ground on Ukrainian territory.” The plane, a Boeing 777, is said to have been carrying 280 passengers and 15 crew members.

Over the last couple of months, pro-Russian separatists have been downing Ukrainian military planes with increasing regularity—and mounting casualties on the Ukrainian side. Just earlier today, separatists had shot down another one. All of that seemed to undermine the narrative, propagated by the Kremlin, the separatists were just a ragtag people’s militia who didn’t stand a chance against a proper, organized military. The constant downing of Ukrainian jets showed that these men were equipped with some pretty serious stuff: you can’t really shoot down a jet with a Kalashnikov.

Does that remind anyone of this?

Toward the end of the war, on July 3, 1988, a U.S. Navy ship called the Vincennes was exchanging fire with small Iranian ships in the Persian Gulf. The U.S. Navy kept ships there, and still does, to protect oil trade routes. As the American and Iranian ships skirmished, Iran Air Flight 655 took off from nearby Bandar Abbas International Airport, bound for Dubai. The airport was used by both civilian and military aircraft. The Vincennes mistook the lumbering Airbus A300 civilian airliner for a much smaller and faster F-14 fighter jet, perhaps in the heat of battle or perhaps because the flight allegedly did not identify itself. It fired two surface-to-air missiles, killing all 290 passengers and crew members on board.

The Fog of War is real and affects even competent militaries.

Here are other such incidents.

July 17, 2014 Posted by | Middle East, world events | , | Leave a comment

Some GMO, Obamacare and Palestine comments…

Yes, Obamacare is working

Paul Krugman chimes in:

One thing about the Obamacare denialists: they don’t give up. First nobody but the sick would sign up, so we’d have a death spiral. Then it was “OK, a lot of people have signed up, but they won’t pay — and anyway, even more people have lost coverage.” [...]

And the response I’m seeing is “It’s not Obamacare, it’s the improving economy”.

But it isn’t. The decline is too sharp, too closely associated with the enrollment period to be driven by the at best gradual improvement in the job market. But wait, there’s more. The Urban Institute breaks down the decline in uninsurance by Medicaid adoption or not, which is closely correlated with the general question of whether states are helping implementation or blocking it. Here’s how it looks:

071314krugman1-blog480

Palestine and Israel This is an interesting article about the situation here. I don’t know what to think: I disapprove of Israeli excesses, but the behavior of the current Islamic republics/theocracies in the region is horrible; so it isn’t as if I am eager to see another one pop up.

I don’t know what the solution is or even if one exists at all.

GMO: the person who posted this Popular Science article is staunchly anti-Monsanto but pro science. The article deals with specific claims made by anti-GMO activists and answers them directly. I can recommend it.

July 13, 2014 Posted by | health care, Middle East, science, social/political, world events | , , | Leave a comment

Israel vs. Palestinians: in one short video

July 12, 2014 Posted by | Middle East, world events | | Leave a comment

Obama Derangement Syndrome

Conservatives continue to fail to give President Obama credit for doing anything right.
There are objective metrics which show that he has done at least SOMETHING right:

factsaboutobamaadmin

bikini-graph-private-sector-June-2014

And yes, the deficit is falling under President Obama (though a positive deficit of any magnitude means the national debt is growing), and I am one of those who doesn’t see this as a totally good thing.

At times, it appears as if this is the case:

horseyjune20

So now we turn to Iraq.

The neocons are outraged that, well, there is still civil war and “how dare that President Obama didn’t twist the arm of Iraqi leadership to get a status of forces agreement.”

Well, the facts are these:

1. The situation is far more complicated than can be explained in some op-ed written by a non-specialist:

Thanks to the Cheney op-ed, we can see how Obama’s hawkish critics are out to create a double standard. Whenever they are called out for how mistaken they were about Iraq in the first place, they piously lecture against “relitigating the past” and say we must instead look forward. At the same time, many of them feel perfectly free to trash the president in extreme and even vile terms.

I am all for looking forward and trying to find an approach that squares the many contradictions we face: of needing to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria while also pushing Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to stop pursuing anti-Sunni policies that are empowering the forces we need to turn back; of being on the same side as Iran in Iraq’s current emergency but on opposite sides over Syria; of wanting to avoid steps that will make things worse while not being paralyzed; and of not plunging into the middle of a Shiite-Sunni civil war while trying to stop the region’s descent into chaos.

Obama sees these contradictions and says he won’t act rashly. You don’t have to agree with Obama’s every move to prefer his prudence to the utter certainty that “we will be greeted as liberators” and to a habit of underestimating the costs of military action.

2. The Neocons have been completely wrong so far. They and those who listen to them can go to hell as far as I am concerned.

June 20, 2014 Posted by | Barack Obama, economy, social/political, world events | , , | Leave a comment

Benghazi: yes, that (stupid) video was part of the motivation for some…

We have one of the attackers in custody. Ok, he isn’t exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer. But he has said some interesting things:

Despite extensive speculation about the possible role of Al Qaeda in directing the attack, Mr. Abu Khattala is a local, small-time Islamist militant. He has no known connections to international terrorist groups, say American officials briefed on the criminal investigation and intelligence reporting, and other Benghazi Islamists and militia leaders who have known him for many years. [...]

As the attack in Benghazi was unfolding a few hours later, Mr. Abu Khattala told fellow Islamist fighters and others that the assault was retaliation for the same insulting video, according to people who heard him.

In an interview a few days later, he pointedly declined to say whether an offensive online video might indeed warrant the destruction of the diplomatic mission or the killing of the ambassador. “From a religious point of view, it is hard to say whether it is good or bad,” he said.

Hey, maybe some of the initial reports, while not completely accurate (and when are they ever?), weren’t that crazy?

Oh, this won’t change the views of a Fox News watching dingbat but it might raise the eyebrow of a truly neutral person.

June 18, 2014 Posted by | social/political, world events | | Leave a comment

Not much

Easy walk this morning; 1:35 for my 6.4 mile course (walk).

Last night: a wedding (one that wouldn’t have been legal a year ago) and today: walk, grass cutting and Indian lunch with a dear friend.

Comment:

Iraq: yeah, it looks like civil war again. Guess what: no matter how long we stay there, these people will be back to killing each other in no time at all. Let Iraq sort it out.

Mr. President: tell the neo-cons to go to hell. They’ve been right about NOTHING.

June 15, 2014 Posted by | walking, world events | | Leave a comment

Yes, the United States has negotiated with terrorists….from way back.

Yes, governments always say that they don’t negotiate with terrorists.

Ours does to. But we have, from day one! Think: Barbary Pirates. At that time, we had lost British and French protection and it was thought that the cost of tributes and ransoms were cheaper than building and maintaining a Navy.

Thomas Jefferson disagreed and we did try to fight…but tributes and ransoms continued during and after his administration.

Too often, shouted slogans is equated with knowledge.

June 3, 2014 Posted by | social/political, world events | , | Leave a comment

Putting politics second: Bush, 9/11 and Benghazi

Given all of the political posturing that the Republicans are doing over Benghazi (seriously Republicans) it is tempting to turn in kind and talk about how President Bush failed so miserably in the months leading up to 9/11.

But you know what? I really don’t blame President Bush for 9/11. Saying “we should have connected the dots” in hindsight is easy…and guess what? For this to be valid, one would have to look at all the times when “similar data” lead to…well…nothing. Some things are inherently unpredictable, and 9/11 is probably one of them.

Presidents see lots of things. So, don’t count me in the “Blame President Bush for 9/11 crowd”, though I will hold him responsible for Iraq, reckless tax cuts, etc.

May 13, 2014 Posted by | bush-era, social/political, world events | , , | 1 Comment

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