Refugees and mass murder

Many on my Facebook feed are politically aware. Most lean liberal and have gone the “how dare the heartless governors refuse to accept Syrian refugees” (not sure HOW they are going to refuse entry, but never mind that).

My take: I don’t mind the US helping out, AFTER the local countries have done their part. Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States are wealthy and yet haven’t done all that much. So, I want to see them step up! There is no reason that Europe and the US ought to be expected to absorb people merely on the strength of them wanting to be here. And yes, many of the refugees are already outside of Syria; there are problems but in some cases, they merely want better economic opportunities.

I think that the West always being called on to save the day is just colonial thinking.


Why the attention on France and not on, say, Kenya or Beirut? I offer the following opinion: while it was true that the Kenyan attack was done by Somali terrorists, that attack, as gruesome and cruel as it was, is largely seen as part of a “sort-of” civil war between competing ideologies. Something similar can be said about Beirut. These attacks are more similar to, say, the Oklahoma City bombing in the US. Yes, lots of people were injured and killed in Oklahoma City, but that was homegrown terrorism and not an attack from the outside.

The Paris attacks are seen as an attack from the outside and not homegrown terrorism.

And yes, of course an American life is worth the same as a French life or the same as a Kenyan life or a Lebanese life. All of those killings were senseless, tragic and cruel. But attacks from “the outside” always draw more sympathy.

November 17, 2015 Posted by | social/political, world events | , | 1 Comment

Paris Attacks…

Needless to say, I am saddened and sickened.

It is my uneducated guess that these were designed to retard the influx of Syrian refugees to Europe.

We shall see.

November 14, 2015 Posted by | world events | | 1 Comment

Why would anyone listen to Dick Cheney?

By the way, the Senate has 41 votes to filibuster an attempt to block the Iran nuclear deal.

September 8, 2015 Posted by | politics, politics/social, world events | , | Leave a comment

Peoria for a while…

Well, in Peoria with daughter who is enjoying sleeping in.

I did a 10 mile walk this morning; ok 10.2 in 2:16:55. My Cornstalk 8.1 segment was 1:48:11 and my 1.4/.7 loop segment (full Cornstalk hill plus lower “half loop” around the median) was 28:44 and the last 1.03 was 12:39. It was cool.


The paper published my “Iran Deal” letter. I did get some negative feedback by a Fox News type who knows that I am “naive and delusional”. 🙂

I am writing to express my support for the proposed nuclear deal with Iran. I support the deal for the following reasons:
1. The technical side of the deal was designed by nuclear scientists; that is by people who know how to make a nuclear bomb.
2. The negotiations were done in consultation with people who understand Iran both culturally and politically.
3. The deal meets the approval of the vast majority of our major allies as well as our major competitors. Such widespread agreement is difficult to come by!
4. The deal is narrowly focused; it is designed strictly to keep Iran from ever acquiring a nuclear weapon. It doesn’t try to do too much.
5. The deal is based on verification and contains immediate “snap backs” on sanctions if Iran fails to comply. Nothing in this deal is based on blind trust.
6. Nothing in the deal prevents us or other nations from taking action on stopping attempted transfers of conventional weapons from Iran to rogue actors.
Of course, there are those who oppose this deal. But the opposition mostly comes from those who enthusiastically supported the Iraq war and the reasoning behind attacking this deal is based on the same thinking that got us into Iraq.
I see this deal as having the potential to stabilize a possibly dangerous situation and possibly making it more likely that Iran returns to the world community as a good citizen.

I don’t blame a regular person for such a response. But our public leaders should know better; evidently our public felt the need to elect people who just shout simplistic slogans. Seriously: I am not talking about smart people disagreeing but rather stuff like this:

4. EMPs. In the July 23 Senate hearing, Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin asked Moniz about a 2008 commission report on EMPs, electromagnetic pulses, which could be triggered by nuclear detonations and could knock out the U.S. power grid. Moniz, the former chairman of MIT’s physics department, has spent his career working in nuclear science. He told Johnson that he was unfamiliar with the report but that “if you look at our Quadrennial Energy Review published in April, we do identify EMP as a risk to transformers, and we are beginning to try to work up a response to that.”

In the hearing on Wednesday, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas used this exchange to portray Moniz as an idiot:

Cruz: You told the United States Senate you hadn’t read the congressionally mandated commission on EMPs and that you didn’t know what an EMP was.
Moniz: That is incorrect. I said I did not know this 2008 report recommendations. I said I was quite familiar with the issue, and we all know about EMPs from airburst nuclear weapons.
Cruz: Secretary, let me read the testimony verbatim so that I don’t mischaracterize you. … “Senator Johnson: ‘Are you familiar with the EMPs commission 2008 report?’ ‘No, I am not, sir.’ ‘You’re not? Do you know—do you know what an EMP is?’ ‘You’ll have to explain it to me, please.’ ” I find that stunning. …
Moniz: That was about the report. If you read further in the testimony, you will see my explicit statement. Of course I know about the issue.
Cruz: Do you agree that an EMP detonated by Iran in the atmosphere could kill tens of millions of Americans? …
Moniz: It depends upon the specifics. These are highly variable—
Cruz: Does that mean, yes, it could?
Moniz: I said it is highly variable in its—
Cruz: OK. You’re refusing to answer the question.

The most disturbing thing about this exchange isn’t Cruz’s obnoxiousness. It’s his intellectual confidence in the face of his own ignorance. He doesn’t know the slightest fraction of what Moniz knows about EMPs. Either Cruz doesn’t understand this difference between himself and Moniz, or he doesn’t care.

Seriously; this is what it has come down to. These are our elected “leaders” acting like ignorant idiots and being applauded for it.

August 4, 2015 Posted by | politics, walking, world events | , | Leave a comment

A change from the Cold War

I enjoyed this “Russian point of view” video about Russian/Soviet bombers and, secondarily, the arms race with the United States.
It takes 52 minutes but I thought it was worth it.

I admit that I expected old Soviet “the USSR is peaceful, the USA is war loving” propaganda of the Cold War. Instead, the video was frank at times as well as reasonably balanced. I note that they didn’t say all that much about the UK (aside from a brief mention) but absolutely skewered the French (at about 30 minutes). I also added a video shot from a Tu-95 (Bear Bomber); note how the propellers appear to be almost stationary even though the tips are rotating FASTER than the speed of sound:

June 2, 2015 Posted by | world events | , , , | Leave a comment

Some political reality

If we listen to the detractors, EVERYONE hates President Obama.

But what is reality? If one looks at the cold, hard facts, President Obama’s approval ratings:

1. Track very well with the historical ratings of previous presidents (who have served two terms)

2. Are well above those of President Bush (at this point in his presidency) but below what President Clinton’s were. President Reagan had better ratings for much of his presidency but, at this point, his approval ratings were similar to President Obama’s (remember Iran-Contra)


Dotted line: average of all presidents. Light green: President Obama. Dark green: President Bush.

Screen shot 2015-05-24 at 5.13.45 PM

Again, light green is President Obama, darkest green is President Reagan (with the big dip); the middle green (and highest ratings) is President Clinton.

From here

Now the Republicans turn their sights on the 2016 elections. Yes, some are bloviating about the instability in Iraq (President Bush left a stable situation!) evidently forgetting that the Status of Forces agreement to get the US out of Iraq was negotiated with Iraq by President Bush. Yes, the region was more stable with us there, but were we to stay there in perpetuity?


May 24, 2015 Posted by | 2016, Barack Obama, political/social, politics, republicans, republicans politics, world events | , , , | Leave a comment

Hersh’s new “Bin Laden raid” conspiracy “conjecture”

Yes, some are abuzz over Seymour Hersh’s story about the Obama administration’s story being false.

Needless to say, there are some problems with this conjecture:

Hersh’s story is amazing to read, alleging a vast American-Pakistani conspiracy to stage the raid and even to fake high-level diplomatic incidents as a sort of cover. But his allegations are largely supported only by two sources, neither of whom has direct knowledge of what happened, both of whom are retired, and one of whom is anonymous. The story is riven with internal contradictions and inconsistencies.

The story simply does not hold up to scrutiny — and, sadly, is in line with Hersh’s recent turn away from the investigative reporting that made him famous into unsubstantiated conspiracy theories.

A decade ago, Hersh was one of the most respected investigative journalists on the planet, having broken major stories from the My Lai massacre in 1969 to the Abu Ghraib scandal in 2004. But more recently, his reports have become less and less credible. He’s claimed that much of the US special forces is controlled by secret members of Opus Dei, that the US military flew Iranian terrorists to Nevada for training, and that the 2013 chemical weapons attack in Syria was a “false flag” staged by the government of Turkey. Those reports have had little proof and, rather than being borne out by subsequent investigations, have been either unsubstantiated or outright debunked. A close reading of Hersh’s bin Laden story suggests it is likely to suffer the same fate.

Oh sure, the usual “the Obama administration always lies” crowd will run with it, tut-tutting that those stupid members of the media fell for the administration line “hook, line and sinker”.

Some will like the fact that Hersh was rude to “shitty journalists“.

So what do I think?

Ok, I am biased toward the Obama administration, but then again, I immediately rejected the 9-11 conspiracy conjectures as well. Hersh does have a distinguished record…a long time ago. So is this merely some old “has been” desperately trying to relive past glories?

Now I do NOT put it past ANY administration to lie or to get things wrong.

But this is the primary reason I am skeptical.

The Republicans hate Obama and I’d imagine that some of the more conservative elements of the military hate him too. Had this been this grandiose lie….wouldn’t the Republicans and other conservatives brought this to light at some strategic time prior to the 2012 election?

My goodness; look at how the Republicans tried to play up a non-existent Behghazi “scandal”.

May 17, 2015 Posted by | politics, politics/social, world events | | Leave a comment

About the post French Cartoon killing debate

This post is about the free speech issues and journalistic reaction to the French cartoon shootings.

I am not trying to pile on beleaguered Muslims who say that they often feel like this:


No, I don’t expect my Muslim colleagues and neighbors to feel responsible for stuff that they didn’t do nor encourage.

Issue one: Should other journalistic outlets feel compelled to reprint the cartoons in some sort of show of solidarity? Some argue: “no”.

I can see the argument. People print stuff that conforms to THEIR standards and if you think that a cartoon is either bigoted or just not very good, there is no reason to print it.

But I see the other side in this argument. The idea: try to censor by violence, and lovers of free speech overwhelm the would be censors (sort of like a Streisand effect).

Issue two Is there a double standard at work here? After all, don’t other religious groups complain loudly when their toes are stepped on?


Now, complaints and peaceful protests are fine. After all, everyone should have free speech. I think that The Onion gets it right. They point out:
no one murdered


See the difference? You can look at my sidebar and see plenty that would get me in deep trouble in Islamic countries had this been directed toward the Koran.

One major problem, as I see it, is that in the Muslim world, views like this are mainstream (albeit the minority viewpoint in many places) and not relegated to “crackpot” status:

As far as data:

Compared with attitudes toward applying sharia in the domestic or criminal spheres, Muslims in the countries surveyed are significantly less supportive of the death penalty for converts.19 Nevertheless, in six of the 20 countries where there are adequate samples for analysis, at least half of those who favor making Islamic law the official law also support executing apostates.

Taking the life of those who abandon Islam is most widely supported in Egypt (86%) and Jordan (82%). Roughly two-thirds who want sharia to be the law of the land also back this penalty in the Palestinian territories (66%). In the other countries surveyed in the Middle East-North Africa region, fewer than half take this view.

In the South Asian countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan, strong majorities of those who favor making Islamic law the official law of the land also approve of executing apostates (79% and 76%, respectively). However, in Bangladesh far fewer (44%) share this view.

A majority of Malaysian Muslims (62%) who want to see sharia as their country’s official law also support taking the lives of those who convert to other faiths. But fewer take this position in neighboring Thailand (27%) and Indonesia (18%).

In Central Asia as well as Southern and Eastern Europe, only in Tajikistan (22%) do more than a fifth of Muslims who want sharia as the official law of the land also condone the execution of apostates. Support for killing converts to other faiths falls below one-in-ten in Albania (8%) and Kazakhstan (4%).

I do see some of this starting to change though. I sure hope that the moderates make is safe for moderates around the world; everyone will be better off.

A sample from the link:

not in my name

I am hopeful.

January 11, 2015 Posted by | religion, social/political, world events | , , , | 1 Comment

Abuse of government power in the news…

Yes, as a rule, I am quite docile with police as I don’t want a fight. Not only am I physically overwhelmed, I probably would lose in a courtroom to boot.

And yes, many who get beat, kicked and shot by police are those who, well, behaved stupidly by striking police.

But, here, Mano Singham is right. Being rude really isn’t against the law, and the law should NOT require that we become docile. Note: I’ve never had trouble with police, though I did once get profiled while driving on I-55.

Then, the Senate released their “torture report”. It is disgusting. But don’t expect the Republicans to admit any wrong doing…expect their tired old “blame America First” canard.

December 10, 2014 Posted by | civil liberties, politics, politics/social, world events | , | Leave a comment

Yes, this is from Fox and Friends…

But give Fox News its due: I like this.


September 27, 2014 Posted by | world events | , | Leave a comment