blueollie

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)

obamaapprovalmay2015

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?

Please.

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:

justamuslim

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?

counterpoint

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

noonemurdered

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.

bombedbywoman

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

Scottish Independence: not going to happen…this time anyway

It has become a rout on the sports books:

independentscots

What continues to amuse me is how so many people will predict something will happen on the strength that they want it to happen. This appears to be a bipartisan phenomena.

September 18, 2014 Posted by | world events | | Leave a comment

Scottish Independence: probably will fail

The odds: the line is roughly 1/4 for “no” winning (e. g., to win 1 dollar you have to bet 4) and 3/1 for “yes’ (you can win 3 dollars by betting one).

From here.

Screen shot 2014-09-15 at 8.12.43 PM

The vote is this Thursday.

September 16, 2014 Posted by | politics, world events | | Leave a comment

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 Vox.com.

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

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