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    • The End of the Rebels in the Ukraine and the Ukraine’s Future
      We’re down to street fighting in Donetsk.  The Russian leaders resigned in the last two weeks.  The rebels appear to be done, at least in terms of their conventional military phase (of course, I could be wrong depending on how much stomach Ukrainian troops have for house to house fighting).  It seems like that would [...]
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The double stupidity of Steve King

Republican Rep. Steve King made the following statement yesterday:

King appeared on Newsmax TV on Wednesday where host J.D. Hayworth asked him about the escalating conflict in Ferguson. When asked about the concerns raised by members of the Congressional Black Caucus about the possibility of racial profiling, King said those were unsubstantiated.

“This idea of no racial profiling,” King said, “I’ve seen the video. It looks to me like you don’t need to bother with that particular factor because they all appear to be of a single, you know, of a single origin, I should say, a continental origin might be the way to phrase that.”

At first, I thought, did he mean North America?  Because I’m pretty sure that’s where most Americans are from.

Then I realized how stupid that was.  According to the theory of human origins, we’re all from Africa.

Steve King: Ignorant bigot or silly evolution denier?

We present, you decide.

 

The White House ignored the State Dept’s warnings on Syria for Years

It looks like the gloves are off.  Josh Rogin at The DailyBeast reports the following this afternoon:

Throughout 2011 and well into 2012, President Obama’s White House barred Hillary Clinton’s State Department from even talking directly to the moderate Syrian rebels. This was only one of several ways the Obama team kept the Clinton team from doing more in Syria, back before the revolution was hijacked by ISIS and spread into Iraq.

The policy feud has flared up again in recent weeks, with Clinton decrying Obama’s Syria policy, Obama’s inner circle hitting back, and the president himselfcalling criticism of his Syria moves “horseshit.” Obama and his former secretary of state promised to patch things up at a social gathering on Wednesday. But the rift is deep, and years in the making.

Clinton and her senior staff warned the White House multiple times before she left office that the Syrian civil war was getting worse, that working with the civilian opposition was not enough, and that the extremists were gaining ground. The United States needed to engage directly with the Free Syrian Army, they argued; the loose conglomeration of armed rebel groups was more moderate than the Islamic forces—and begging for help from the United States. According to several administration officials who were there, her State Department also warned the White House that Iraq could fall victim to the growing instability in Syria. It was all part of a State Department plea to the president to pursue a different policy.

“The State Department warned as early as 2012 that extremists in eastern Syria would link up with extremists in Iraq. We warned in 2012 that Iraq and Syria would become one conflict,” said former U.S. ambassador to Syria Robert Ford. “We highlighted the competition between rebel groups on the ground, and we warned if we didn’t help the moderates, the extremists would gain.”

But the warnings, which also came from other senior officials—including then-CIA chief David Petraeus and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta—fell on deaf ears. Obama’s small circle of White House foreign policy advisers resisted efforts to make connections with rebel fighters on the ground until 2013, when the administration began to train and equip a few select vetted brigades. For many who worked on Syria policy inside the administration, it was too little, too late.

Look, guys, I hate to sound like a broken record, really I do.  Do you think it gives me any pleasure to point out that lack of planning, principle and follow through that has characterized the Obama administration for the last six years?  Hell, no.  I have to live in this country too and at my age, there’s no other country in the world that’s going to accept me as an immigrant.  (Though if there is anyone in New Zealand who wants to sponsor me, I’m all ears. )

I can understand the White House’s embarrassment and desire to keep all this dissension under wraps.  But I don’t appreciate the PR campaign they have unleashed against the former SOS simply because she chooses to reveal her difficulties with the White House.

On the other hand, maybe Hillary will learn to be more sympathetic towards people like Edward Snowden.

One can only hope.

“Step out of line, the Man come and take you away”

Read this account of a WaPo reporter, Wesley Lowery, who was arrested in Ferguson while he was charging his cell phone in a local McDonalds.

 For the past week in Ferguson, reporters have been using the McDonald’s a few blocks from the scene of Michael Brown’s shooting as a staging area. Demonstrations have blown up each night nearby. But inside there’s WiFi and outlets, so it’s common for reporters to gather there.

That was the case Wednesday. My phone was just about to die, so as I charged it, I used the time to respond to people on Twitter and do a little bit of a Q&A since I wasn’t out there covering the protests.

As I sat there, many armed officers came in — some who were dressed as normal officers, others who were dressed with more gear.

Initially, both Ryan Reilly of the Huffington Post and I were asked for identification. I was wearing my lanyard, but Ryan asked why he had to show his ID. They didn’t press the point, but one added that if we called 911, no one would answer.

Read the whole thing.  It’s very upsetting.

Police presence in Denver for the Democratic convention in 2008 was huge and very intimidating.  I saw a girl step off a curb and get slammed to the ground by a couple of cops in what looked like paramilitary gear.  As far as I could see, there wasn’t anything threatening about the girl’s actions.  But Denver was dwarfed by the police presence in Manhattan during Occupy Wall Street.  I went to Zucotti Park on several occasions to cover the protests for this blog and used a local Starbucks to charge my phone.  I’ll probably never do anything like that again without a press pass (how do you get them?) but this story makes me realize that even the press is not protected anymore.

Enough is enough.  Americans are not the enemy.

One more thought: Battery problems plagued me when I was in Manhattan for a variety of reasons, not least of which there are a lot of tall buildings around blocking signal, there were a lot of signals in the air dogfighting and ATT (need I say more).  I’m guessing that more savvy people keep a spare charging pack in their pockets.  That’s probably a good idea.  Another good idea is to buy something when you go to Starbucks or MickyD’s to inhale some WiFi or amperage.  I used to get at least a hot chocolate and drink it slowly to show I was legit.

Update:  According to Bloomberg News, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon is ordering St. Louis County police out of Ferguson.  He’s going to be making some kind of public statement soon.

Sounds like the jig is up and too many Americans are getting a good look at the militarization of the police and don’t like what they see.  Just a guess.

Here’s another interesting tidbit.  Representative William Lacey Clay “said that he has been urging U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to “take over the entire situation because we will not get justice forMichael Brown and his family and friends if the St. Louis County police and prosecutor have a say.””

Update 2: Oh, wow.  I think Obama has given the game away.  He is sooooo out of touch with what happened in Ferguson it’s not even funny.  Trying to find summary of press conference but twitter consensus is that Obama cautioned Ferguson residents against looting and vandalism.

{{facepalm}}

Just forget about the troop carriers and guys with rocket launchers.

 

Conflict unavoidable

“Rash and inexperienced traveller, we will now seriously devote ourselves to a little high tension”

The New York Times has an article today about the unavoidable conflict between Clinton and Obama.  They’re both on Martha’s Vineyard this week. For all I know, it’s manufactured by the flying monkeys in the media who seem to be salivating for a Krystle vs Alexis fight in The Pond.  But there are some encouraging utterances from the Clinton camp:

Mr. Obama is fast becoming the past, not the future, for donors, activists and Democratic strategists. Party leaders are increasingly turning toward Mrs. Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, as Democrats face difficult races this fall in states where the president is especially unpopular, and her aides are making plain that she has no intention of running for “Obama’s third term.”

Thank goodness for that.  I don’t think I can take another four years of careless conservatism spouting from the mouths of clueless young Ivy League males.  We have been waiting for six long years to hear what Clinton really thinks about Obama.  Yeah, it was great that she was able to swallow her pride and anger and play nice for the sake of “unity” but enough’s enough.  Even if she doesn’t run, I am looking forward to her informed critique.

I especially like the bit where Clinton says “ ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle,”

Amen to that.

I am desperate to hear someone talk about their organizing principles.  No, I am not kidding.  That “put everything on the table and we’ll negotiate” crap has been an utter disaster.  And like Katiebird, I’d like the conversation to move away from foreign policy to economics.

On the other hand, this is probably not the best way to raise a lot of money from political donors who want to retain their iron grip on all the money in the universe.  Let’s hope Clinton can convince some of them that it’s in their best interests.

The Party, on the other hand, seems to think this is still 2008 before the crash:

Christine Pelosi, a longtime Democratic activist and daughter of the House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, said her phone and email “just exploded” after Mrs. Clinton’s remarks.

“Now is not the time to second guess the commander in chief, particularly when you’re a former member of his cabinet and national security team,” Ms. Pelosi said.

Oooo, really?  And when would the best time be, Christine?  I mean, he’s already opened up the tax payer safe to the finance industry, took a backseat to the foreclosure crisis and long term unemployment, presided over the dismantling of our research and development sector, and locked us into a two tier class system when it comes to health insurance.  When is any Democrat allowed to criticize him?  No one ever gave Bill Clinton that kind of deference.

Anyway, here’s to a little high tension.  It’s about fricking time.

Additional thoughts: We were the target of a troll attack yesterday.  It was wildly fun, by the way.  Katiebird and I are just warming up.  Bring it on.  But we did wonder what the heck triggered it.  It reminded both of us of the days in 2008 when the Obot trolls fired barrage after barrage from different IP addresses.  In fact, we both thought it was a good idea that we hadn’t gotten rid of those addresses in the banned list for the spam filter.  Now, we can go through the IPs at our leisure and figure out if there’s a common thread.

But it does make us wonder, why bother?  Obama isn’t running for another term, we don’t have nearly the readership that we had in 2008 when we peaked at something like 56000 hits/per day.  And the left has not sought to deign us with the pleasure of their revenue stream by adding us to their blog rolls.  In fact, I’d say we were true blue all the way through the last six years but hardly worth the effort and attention.

And yet, in spite of our anonymity compared to 2008, we still seem relevant enough to send a bunch of psych-out shock troops.  We can’t dismiss the possibility of a Republican attack but yesterday’s seemed so familiar.  It left that whiff of O-zone behind it.

Go figure.

Sanctimonious BS

From Tristero on the Iraq War Resolution and Hillary Clinton’s vote:

I was so freaked out that I did something I hadn’t done since college: I joined a protest outside Clinton’s Manhattan office. No dice. Then, I emailed every single person I knew to send me a letter opposing the war. I printed them all out and overnight fedexed them to Clinton’s office in DC.

In addition, Michael Moore circulated a petition that read in part:

We call on the Democrats in Congress to oppose a war on Iraq, to vote “No” to Bush’s war cries. We pledge to never again vote for any Democratic member of Congress who supports George W. Bush’s war against Iraq. To the Democrats in Congress, we give you fair warning: You are either with us, or you are fired.

[...]

I did not support Clinton in 2008 for the presidency. As for 2016, unless there is a serious chance that a Republican would beat her, I will honor my signature on Moore’s petition.

I saw Hillary Clinton’s statement on her vote on the Senate floor and it didn’t sound like “gobbledygook and some of the most twisted rationalizations I have ever read”.  No, I give that honor to John Kerry’s overly long statement on the Senate floor regarding the same resolution.

I think Clinton’s motives were pretty clear and I’m not going to rehash them here nor will I apologize for her.  I was as adamantly against going to Iraq as Tristero and Michael Moore.  You can ask my immediate family.  They were hung-ho, Hadji kicking, peeing in their beds in terror over Muslims coming to kill them lunatics.  We split up over it.

But I do have a problem with this sanctimonious “Lips that touch liquor shall never touch mine” bull from Tristero.

How come you guys were so Ok with turning the primary season of 2008 into a pro forma affair?  I hold the vote as one of the most sacred institutions in the country. You know what happened. Without integrity in the voting process, it doesn’t matter if you go to war or not.  The bad guys have already won.

Going into 2016, are we entirely sure we are going to have an honest primary season where a candidate that Tristero can bring himself to support has a chance of actually winning?  Will that vote actually count for anything?  I used to be a PUMA but consider myself a Democrat in Exile since the general election of 2008.  Hillary Clinton has to prove herself all over again.  My vote is not automatic.  Will I have a chance to get counted this time, because Jon Corzine gave my primary vote away in 2008 in some kind of negotiated parley with the DNC that sounded like “gobbledygook and some of the most twisted rationalizations I have ever read” and I consider that the worst thing that has happened in American politics since Watergate.

I will defend Tristero’s right to vote for any self-righteous, preening, “Yes We Can!”, supposedly anti-war candidate he wants in 2016.  Will Tristero allow me the same right to vote for whoever I want?  Or is he going to call me a racist, stupid, and uneducated when I have a different set of priorities and set much higher standards for qualifications?  Does my vote for “It’s the economy, stupid” have equal standing with Tristero’s desire to live like Gandhi?  Will it be OK once more to just ignore my wishes and trash my vote because Tristero and his friends know better than I do what my priorities should be?  What if I decide that women’s rights are more important this election cycle than LGBT rights?  Will that be Ok? If we’re going to get a bunch of lefties crying and holding their breaths this early in the election cycle, it’s time we pushed back hard because they threw a fit and got their way in 2008.

And because of that, we got the most untested, overly ambitious, unready, president in the middle of the greatest economic catastrophe in 80 years.  I and many of my former colleagues are still paying for that and will continue to pay for that in terms of diminished wages and savings until the day we die.  Our children will pay for that. Women in general have been paying for that.  Is there an American woman alive who can genuinely say that the misogynism unleashed by Democrats in the 2008 campaign season hasn’t affected them?  And it was all very, VERY predictable.  We predicted it throughout the campaign season with some very good logic and observation.

I can think of a lot of “the most dangerously stupid policy decisions any American president ever made”.  For example, pulling out of Iraq before the country was stabilized in order to placate a bunch of noisy Tristeros before the 2012 election was dangerously stupid. Making Tim Geithner Secretary of the Treasury was dangerously stupid.  After all, he’s the one who wrote the actual blank check for the finance industry in the form of trillions of our tax dollars.  If we face another economic catastrophe because the financiers took greater risks, I’d say that was dangerously stupid.  Bailing on homeowners might not feel so bad to Tristero but I’m sure the kids who lost their houses when the banks foreclosed on their parents would see it differently.  There are a lot of dangerously stupid policy decisions that Obama has made that are going to affect all of us and make us a weaker nation for generations to come.  But those decisions?  Not a peep from Tristero and people like him.

We all have our lines in the sand.  Tristero thought the war in Iraq was his, though I suspect he was pretty OK with voting for John Kerry in 2004.  Can Tristero honestly look at us in the face and say that he held John Kerry to the same standard in 2004 as he holds Hillary Clinton in 2016?  Call me very skeptical.

And I have mine.  To me, anyone who schemes to deprive voters of their choices, substituting his judgement for theirs, doesn’t get my support.  Ever.  Because I don’t know who is behind that kind of sacrilege and nothing good comes from a bad seed.

Messing with the vote is evil.

One final thought: There seems to be some misperception out there that I am totally onboard with Hillary and I’m just being coy and my past as a PUMA just proves it.  That would be wrong.

I’m not the head of any group and I don’t have any connections to the campaign.  No one has approached me to officially or unofficially support a candidate.  Maybe it’s too early for that anyway but in any case, I wouldn’t know how it’s done because I was never solicited in the past.  All of my statements were purely voluntarily and not under the control of any candidate.  I’m sure that didn’t always help the candidate but that’s what has happened in the past.  I liked my independence.

Yeah, I could use ad money.  I have tuition to pay and I’m a lot less financially secure than I was in 2008.  I don’t have a good job with benefits anymore.   I’m human and I would be sorely tempted.  But what I really want more than anything else is a full time job making decent money, and health insurance that doesn’t cost me my entire paycheck and, in my opinion, the economy is in such desperate need of liberal economic policies that I am willing to wipe my slate clean and start with a fresh pair of eyes when it comes to candidates for 2016.

So, Hillary has to prove herself to me just like any other candidate.  If she is a worthy candidate, she wouldn’t want it any other way.

Jumbo Shrimp

Funny question: What is the purpose of “urban” farming and “rural” tiny houses?  It’s like jumbo shrimp, right?

I’m a fan of the tiny house movement and a bit less of a fan of urban farming (though I’m trying).  There’s something fascinating about the Swiss Army knife construction of tiny houses.  There’s a place for everything and everything in it’s place.  The tiny house dwellers say their primary reason for living in limited space has to do with a sense of freedom.  Freedom from rent or mortgages, freedom from the tyranny of “things”, freedom to go where they like.  They can save their money for more important things, like the ability to live a more self-actualized existence without being enslaved to a system that forces them to commit so much of themselves to the attainment of someone else’s vision of a good life.

The urban farming movement has to do with sustainability, providing for oneself and not feeling dependent on, or at the mercy of, a profit driven, finance directed food industry and oil based economy.  You grow your own stuff, raise your own chickens, make your own fertilizers.  You’re not going to get sticker shock when you walk in the grocery store with a hankering for grilled chicken only to find that a single package of breasts cost almost ten bucks. I’m beginning to suspect that there’s a speculator working the other end of the food deals in a way that is similar to the Enron guys manipulating rolling blackouts in order to stick it to the grannies.  I’m not there with the chickens yet and my backyard garden is still on the small side but I’ve got a lot of room to work with and I intend to put it to good use.

I suspect that financiers will find a way to profit from these trends eventually.  Or maybe we will devolve to a somewhat less affluent culture.  Think of England without the Empire.  We’ll live in increasingly smaller houses, giving up the McMansions, in order to snap back in line with our decreasing wages.  Our front and backyards will bloom.  Maybe we’ll raise bees.  It wouldn’t be the end of the world.  Yeah, the economy will plod along and we’ll have a lot less to live on when we retire and we will be like the elves, diminishing and going into the West.  But maybe that is what it will take to take down the financiers, when more of us take our balls and go home and refuse to play the game.   At least we’ll have a roof over our heads and our kids won’t starve.

It only takes one devastating layoff from the best job in the world to make a person a convert.  In the future, I predict that building your own tiny house will be a teenage “rite of passage”.  You heard it here first.

Here are a few of my favorite tiny house/urban faming links:

SmallHouseSwoon

TinyHouseSwoon

Kirsten Dirksen has been documenting the tiny house movement on YouTube.  Here’s her latest entry:

The Horticulture Channel

Titli’s Busy Garden

 

War and Peace

Some thoughts that are shorter and pithier than Leo Tolstoy’s book:

“Peace is not the absence of war, it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition of benevolence, confidence, justice.”  -Baruch Spinoza

“War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

Not necessarily war related but so often overlooked by the peacemakers as well as the war hawks:

“If you don’t take the time to do it right, when will you have the time to do it over?” – Former Advanced Inorganic Professor

“Begin with the end in mind” – Stephen Covey

 

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