Obama and Iraq

It looks as if the media is playing up the difference of opinion between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on Iraq.

Basically, Secretary Clinton wanted more proactivity and President Obama was more conservative; personally I agree with the President. President Obama points out that much of what is going on with Iraq is a political problem that force isn’t going to solve.

August 11, 2014 Posted by | Barack Obama, hillary clinton, Middle East, world events | , , | Leave a comment

Why the US sides with Israel, in one photo

Pro-Israeli Activists Hold Rally In Chicago

Seriously. Think about it: when picking sides, humans tend to decide for emotional reasons and THEN use intellect to confirm the decision. So, who are most Americans going to relate to: more Western Israelis or head scarf clad Palestinians?

Yes, I know, I know; that doesn’t justify disproportional uses of force, civilian carnage and the like. But to side with those “more like us” I think is human.

It might be changing though

(yes, this photo was taken IN CHICAGO and this is, more than likely, an American. But my conjecture is that American Jews seem “less exotic” than American Muslims to many and that feeling might drive American sympathies, at least on a subconscious level) The photo was from

August 3, 2014 Posted by | Middle East, social/political, world events | | Leave a comment

Politics and the Israel, Palestine violence

This is a very balanced explanation of the current fighting in the Gaza Strip. It goes into the “human shields” charge/counter charge and why Hamas is not, by strict war crime standards, using shields even though that is the effect.

US Politics
Interesting post on Vox about small donors in US politics; basically, the more partisan people are more likely to donate (and yes, I did).

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Makes perfect sense, no?

President Obama: Paul Krugman likes some of the stuff he did; the ACA and his work on financial reform. That is, we are less likely to reach a situation in which a bailout is required. Remember that Paul Krugman was a frequent critic (from the left).

August 3, 2014 Posted by | Barack Obama, Middle East, political/social, politics | , , | Leave a comment

Butts and Boobs for Israel Defense Forces….really

I stumbled across this Facebook page:

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The page is full of photos like these:



There are many more such photos.

Of course, I like the “butt” photos but this isn’t what struck me. It is perceived that the US coverage of this latest outbreak of violence is slanted toward Israel, and it is no secret that the US supports Israel more than the western European countries do. The “why” is an interesting question.

Part of the reason may be that the US is the first country to recognize Israel; I know that when I was growing up, the perception was that Israel was a romantic underdog that frequently defeated the bumbling Arab countries that attempted to “push it to the sea.” Part may be that Israel enjoys support from both our liberal wings and our conservative wings (the latter: Christian conservatives).

Part of the reason might be that the Palestinians are often conflated with Hamas and, well, the behavior of the Islamic Republics has been shameful with regards to women, free speech, religious freedom, gay rights and the like.

But part of the reason might be that, on a social, emotional level, we relate to Israel a whole lot better.

Can you imagine Muslim women posing in thong bikinis for their soldiers? Now what about (many) American women?

Now, of course, NONE of this is pertinent to the level of response of the IDF. But when it comes to perceptions, being able to identify with the people of a country matters.

July 25, 2014 Posted by | big butts, bikinis, Middle East, social/political, world events | | Leave a comment

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 least not quickly.

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

These things happen in a war: civilian airliner shot down


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:


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

Why I like Obama more than most others do

Workout notes 2 mile warm up on the treadmill (10:15, 19:11, then to 2.07 miles)
8 x 200 with 200 w/j (21:00 total time): 54-54-53-52-52-52-51-49 (slightly faster average than last time)
then after a quick breakfast, 4 miles of easy walking outside.

The hay is in the barn, so to speak. The next two weeks is my running season.


I like his style: find out what is true and then don’t mince words. His opponents (in this case, the climate change skeptics) all him “arrogant”. Frankly, I am indifferent to their “opinion”.

And yes, he has been far more effective than liberals give him credit for. Sure his approval ratings are low, but that mostly reflects how partisan the public has become.

Neocons: STFU.

Fareed Zakaria: Iraq and President Bush is to blame for the current mess.

So, when you’ve been consistently wrong about …well…everything….you aren’t entitled to be treated as if you know what you are talking about.

June 17, 2014 Posted by | Barack Obama, Middle East, politics/social, running, social/political, walking | , , | 3 Comments

Syria …no good options…unless…

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There is one hopeful option though:

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem strengthened Tuesday his nation’s backing for a Russian proposal to see his nation turn its chemical weapons stockpiles over to international control to avoid a U.S. military strike, even as his Russian allies worked to hammer out the details of the proposal.

After meeting with the speaker of the Russian parliament, al-Moallem said his government quickly “agreed to the Russian initiative,” adding that Syria did so to “uproot U.S. aggression.” His statement sounded more definitive than his remarks Monday, when he said that Damascus welcomed Russia’s initiative.

I sure hope that this works out. As far as President Obama: he has always said that he doesn’t care who gets credit so long as good things happen. That is what I voted for.

September 10, 2013 Posted by | Barack Obama, Middle East, world events | , | Leave a comment