Friday, December 28, 2012

This Is Why I Don't Take Anti-Israel Arguments Seriously

I have mentioned before that I am extremely disappointed with the low quality of intellect and emptiness of argument on the anti-Israel side.  Today's CNN comment section du jour, accompanying an opinion piece on the Middle East, just brings it home again.

As is typical, in a response to a harmless generic comment wishing peace to all, the anti-Israel people launch straight into incoherent, paranoid pseudo-anthropology.  By the eighth word this person has already mentioned the long-debunked Khazar hoax, and the blabbering idiocy just flows from there.  Look at the diatribe, by someone calling themselves - apparently without a touch of irony - "The Truth":

Then, not content with merely one posting of blabbering nonsense, they come back with even more, this time several screens worth.  I can just feel the Schizotypal Personality Disorder oozing over the internet:





It goes on.  And on.  "Real" Semites, Assyrians were black, Khazars, blah blah blah - the same nonsense fantasy babble about the same irrelevant and invented topics that we see every time. If this person had not forgotten to take their Lithium today they would have remembered to throw the USS Liberty somewhere in there too.

As I've said before, if there really was something legitimate and worthwhile to be said by anti-Israel people, then they would be saying it - and not spouting this babbling incoherent pseudo-anthropoligcal nonsense all over the internet.  Not on CNN and Yahoo comments, and not in the incrementally more sophisticated but still transparently ridiculous form it appears at Mondoweiss, HuffPo, and Daily Kos.  If this is all they've got, then I know which side is right, and it sure isn't them.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

LATEST DRUDGE LIE: CIVIL WAR - SENATE TO GO FOR HANDGUNS

It' s unbelievable... freakin' Drudge has become the newest version of Weekly World News which features headlines such as "Batboy Goes Mutant" and Alien Spaceships to Attack Earth in November 2012. We all see this stuff in line at the Grocery Store and then we chuckle to ourselves at just how ridiculous this crap is.
But Drudge... Well, while we here may discount that on-line rag with the same contempt as one might have for the Weekly World News, millions of Conservative Americans take this site as truth.
As the NY Times Discussed:
Mr. Drudge understood the whole high-low bifurcation that news consumers are drawn to long before there was such a thing as Gawker. Andrew Breitbart, the founder of several conservative Web sites including Breitbart.com and the author of “Righteous Indignation,” met him in 1995 when Mr. Drudge was still working at the CBS gift shop in Los Angeles and running the Web site on the side. Mr. Breitbart immediately began helping him. 
“Matt Drudge is an American original,” Mr. Breitbart said. “He does not rig search optimization, he does not care about the next big Web innovation, he just has the best nose for news there is. He gives people everything, every single thing, they want to know in a single stop.”
A big part of the reason he is such an effective aggregator for both audiences and news sites is that he actually acts like one. Behemoth aggregators like Yahoo News and The Huffington Post have become more like fun houses that are easy to get into and tough to get out of. Most of the time, the summary of an article is all people want, and surfers don’t bother to click on the link (vb1 emphasis). But on The Drudge Report, there is just a delicious but bare-bones headline, there for the clicking. It’s the opposite of sticky, which means his links actually kick up significant traffic for other sites.
SO... with that here is the top headline at today's Drudge Report "CIVIL WAR:SENATE TO GO FOR HANDGUNS". I noticed this because a co-worker had it sitting up on his desktop. Well, seeing that and with the fact that I am a handgun owner I figured I would take a look so I pulled it up. What does this ominous headline lead too... Senator Diane Feinsteins page regarding the Assault Weapon Ban.

NOW... if you read the bill that Feinstein supports it does mention handguns, HOWEVER, it only mentions handguns in the context of them having "Fixed Magazines with more than 10 rounds of ammunition" in them.
Now that is quite different story from the headline which screams "Senate Going After Handguns". But Drudge is meant to get clicks and readers so he doesn't care what he posts. However, he should care. There are a number of gun owners out there that buy into the paranoia that "President Obama is coming for their guns", and because of that they lash out and start shooting. That number of people is not high at this point, but we see the violence of this manifestation on a daily basis.

I have some acquaintances (Ron Paul supporters) who talk in terms of "revolution" if someone tries to take away their guns. Will they do anything? I don't know, I don't think so but, they are trained to use these weapons to a high degree. Here is the rantings of one them on Facebook:
Idiots, well I called this six years ago just like I called iraq before that, thanks idiots...you voted for hitler cause hes black this time.... You stupid retards and your abortion/healthcare/wellfare crap destroyed amurica you fucking idiots....the holocaust only happened cause.people voted for it under the mask of protection...sheep.
and
BULLETS BULLETS BULLETS!!!! woohoo!!!! gun control gun control!!!!!!! fucking sheep. if i accidentally have a kid, its going to school in kevlar and with a 9milly before you start crying and voting our civil rights away watch some glorious police murders....its real... enjoy reality.
I mean this is the stuff that gets posted and they really believe it: The Government is coming to get you. SO... when Drudge posts this headline what is he doing? He is actively engaging in getting people that are heavily armed completely riled up. He is also engaging in mass consumer fraud to get people to buy up guns and ammo "before the ban goes into effect".

This is serious stuff. These headlines are meant to inflame. How many wingnuts are even going to actually click the link? My bet... not many. But what will be the result of this. How many people need to die before people like Drudge and his ilk actually take responsibility for their lies?

A possible solution? Get your conservative friends who read this ridiculous rag to actually click the link and call Drudge out. When I did - here is the conversation:
Me: You know this is bullshit right?
Co-worker: No way, Obummer is coming for our guns
Me: Well, did you actually read the story - it is about the "Assault Weapons Ban", what the hell does that have to do with Handguns?
Co-worker: I don't have to read the story - I know it's true. What do your read, the Huffington Post?
Me: Just READ the fucking page, NOW! Stop making shit up - just read it
Co-Worker: Ok, ok... (reads the link).
Me: Where is there anything about taking away Handguns?
Co-worker: Hmmm I don't really see anything but, it doesn't matter anyway, first it will be assault weapons then handguns.
Me: Oh for G-d sakes!!!!
Now at first this seems like a failed conversation, but after I saw him clicking on other misleading links just to check. You could tell that something about "Hmmm, this is not right" was going on. And so things change little by little. I think this is how we get the conversation started, by demonstrating that a lot of the fear around politics is just fear-mongering by a few.

Start and have the conversation. Fear is born of ignorance. The Right depends on ignorance for their strength. Deny them that fear and you deny them their meme's.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

HAPPY CHINESE FOOD DAY


A little something for Chinese Food Day!

Oh yeah and Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Israel to NRA and Tea Party: You have no idea what you are talking about

Cross Posted to The Progressive Zionist
In the wake of the Sandy Hook Tragedy, social media and Wing-nut sites have been rife with stories about Israeli teachers being armed and carrying weapons. Throughout Facebook you see this image from SemDem's recommended Diary:


Many, on the Right, have seen this and credited the lack of Israeli School shootings to having a heavily armed populace. I remember before the election a "gun nut" acquaintance of mine telling me that if President Obama won, that he was going to move to Israel because the President was going to take away all of his weapons (well, it was that or stick around for the "second American Revolution"). He was heartbroken, when I shattered his image of Israel by explaining that actually they have incredibly strict Gun Control there. In the wake of Sandy Hook now we see this from the Israelis: Israelis shoot down NRA's claim that the Jewish State uses more weapons to keep schools safe
Appearing on “Meet the Press” on Sunday, NRA honcho LaPierre said: “Israel had a whole lot of school shootings, until they did one thing. They said we’re going to stop it and they put armed security in every school and they have not had a problem since then.” 
 But Yigal Palmor, spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, said the situation in Israel was “fundamentally different” from that in the United States.
“We didn’t have a series of school shootings, and they had nothing to do with the issue at hand in the United States. We had to deal with terrorism,” said Palmor.
“What removed the danger was not the armed guards but an overall anti-terror policy and anti-terror operations which brought street terrorism down to nearly zero over a number of years,” he said. “It would be better not to drag Israel into what is an internal American discussion,” he added.
“There is no comparison between maniacs with psychological problems opening fire at random to kill innocent people and trained terrorists trying to murder Israeli children,” said Reuven Berko, a retired Israeli Army colonel and senior police officer.
Having lived in Israel and trained in courses in Israeli Tactical Point Shooting, I can say that this is very true. There is a very strict emphasis in Israel on gun safety and much less of a "cowboy mentality". Guns are highly regulated and the only people that are out there "carrying" are Soldiers and others connected to Security. The emphasis on safety and accidental discharge are much more stringent than they are here. For instance, in the U.S. even the Police will carry a "round in the chamber" in Israel that is strictly forbidden. They worry about civilian shootings so that even anti-Terror units don't pre-load that round. 
 
Here are Israeli Gun Control Statistics and Regulations. A sampling of that is here:
Gun Owner Licensing
Genuine Reason Required for Firearm License: Applicants for a gun owner’s license in Israel are required to prove genuine reason to possess a firearm, for example, self-defence, hunting and sport  
Minimum Age for Firearm Possession :The minimum age for gun ownership in Israel is 27 years and 21 years if served in the military30
Gun Owner Background Checks: An applicant for a firearm license in Israel must pass background checks which consider health, mental and criminal records

Gun Owner Licensing Period: In Israel gun owners must re-apply and re-qualify for their firearm licence every 3 years
Licensing Records: In Israel, authorities maintain a record of individual civilians licensed to acquire, possess, sell or transfer a firearm or ammunition
Limit on Quantity, Type of Ammunition: A licensed firearm owner in Israel is permitted to possess a limited quantity of ammunition.
Civilian Guns
Number of Privately Owned Firearms: The estimated total number of guns held by civilians in Israel is 500,000
Rate of Civilian Firearm Possession per 100 Population: The rate of private gun ownership in Israel is 7.32 firearms per 100 people
Number of Privately Owned Firearms - World Ranking: In a comparison of the number of privately owned guns in 178 countries, Israel ranked at No. 81
Rate of Privately Owned Firearms per 100 Population - World Ranking: In a comparison of the rate of private gun ownership in 179 countries, Israel ranked at No. 79
Number of Registered Firearms: The number of registered guns in Israel is reported to be 403,000
Rate of Registered Firearms per 100 Population: The rate of registered firearms per 100 people in Israel is 5.98
As one can see... It is not quite the picture that the Right and the NRA like to push. 

Anyway, it is time that Americans come to the "table" to have a sane and realistic conversation about Gun Control in America. As I mentioned, I am a gun-owner and I support our second amendment rights to have guns. HOWEVER, having handled these weapons, I understand the power involved in guns. I personally support strict controls and testing requirements for gun ownership. I am all in agreement with a thirty day waiting period, some sort of formal class training leading to licensing, some form of psychological profiling, severe background checks and other methods for making sure that these objects are strictly regulated.

I strongly believe the adage "Guns don't kill people, People kill people - But GUN'S Sure make it a lot easier". They do, and it is time, as Americans, that we understand this and begin a rational discussion around just this issue so that incidents like Sandy Hook, Aurora, and the horror of daily events in our urban areas that go unreported don't ever happen again.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

IRANIAN PRESS TV: ISRAEL DID SANDY HOOK

Ok..... this could be the Onion but it's not...

According to the Israeli On-line Daily Ynet:
Iran's Press TV website quoted Michael Harris, former Republican candidate for governor of Arizona and GOP campaign finance chairman, as saying that "An Israeli death squad was involved in the Sandy Hook shooting." 
According to the report, Harris called the Newtown tragedy a "terrorist attack," adding that it was "Israel's revenge" and that it was meant to "teach the US lesson," following the Palestinian's status upgrade in the UN.
According to the report, the shooter, Adam Lazna, was meant to be the scapegoat.
But here let's let Press T.V. explain what "Security Analyst" Mike Harris had to say:
During his interview today, Mike Harris explained his rationale for looking to Israel as responsible for Sandy Hook, saying “This is exactly what Israel did in Norway; the political party that voted sanctions against Israel was retaliated against by a “lone gunman” who killed 77 children. This is what Israel always does, they go after the children. It is what they do in Gaza every day. It is what was done in Norway. It is what happened at Sandy Hook. Nobody buys the “lone gunman” story anymore, not with the Gabby Giffords’ shooting, not with the Aurora “Batman” shooting, certainly not with Breveik, and certainly not in Connecticut.” After Harris’ broadcast, key members of the military and law enforcement community contacted Veterans Today in full support of Harris’ analysis.
One three star general is quoted as saying, “Harris hit the nail right on the head and it is about time someone spoke up.”
Of course one need wonder why Mike Harris a failed Republican candidate but also former head of the G.O.P's campaign finance committee in Arizona (which tells you something about Republicans in AZ and Republican candidates in general), was even contacted for an interview with Iranian T.V. I guess when trying to get info. for a story picks anti-Semite and conspiracy whack Gordon Duff of Veterans Today to publish pieces citing these people as "authorities" on American policy. 

The importance of this is here, while we laugh off, the excesses of the Lunatic Fringe (even though a few here do quote Veterans Today while the admins. look the other way), they are getting major play in other parts of the world and on Nations major networks. Press TV is not some small time outfit in Iran. People take it seriously there. It's not just Veterans Today either. It is insanity on both the Left and the Right that gets play in the International Press and sometimes at home. And yes, while sometimes - VERY RARELY - they get something right, they are simply illegitimate sources for "real" news.

In the world of Tehran and it's supporters, who number in the millions of people around the world, people like Michael Harris (who has appeared with Neo-Nazi's and supported all kinds of nutty things), and Gordon Duff are legitimate sources of information.

As is said: "Information is Power". It is and when we get it, it is important to understand what is being conveyed. Of course, Press is going to get loons like Harris and Duff for their information. They merely reinforce the meme that Iran wants to perpetrate. They want to blame Israel for everything so is it a surprise that they try to hang this one on Israel as well. BUT, as consumers of news it is important that we understand what is being peddled. Same as information coming from FOX. One pretty much needs to triple check their sources to see if the story is true. One difference though between FOX and Press TV... That is that Press TV is a semi-official source of information and reflects the Governments thinking in Iran while FOX is the media arm of a political group that got beaten like a drum in the last election.

PAPERS PLEASE... Now comes to America

Throughout history we have seen this before. Mostly it is associated with this (picture grabbed from Facebook):

And it's here in Arkansas....
Paragould police have canceled the remaining two town hall meetings that had been planned to discuss crime in Paragould after extensive public outcry over the department’s controversial proposal to lower the crime rate.... 
Sunday’s press release struck a softer tone than Police Chief Todd Stovall’s harsher rhetoric at the Dec. 13 meeting, where he announced the creation of the street crimes unit.
At the time, Stovall said the street crimes unit would be deployed to high crime areas and would make contact with all pedestrians.
“If you’re out walking, we’re going to stop you, ask why you’re out walking, check for your ID,” Stovall told a crowd of nearly 40 that had gathered at West View Baptist Church.
Mayor Mike Gaskill followed Stovall’s statements by explaining that a simple walk with a family pet could get a resident stopped and questioned.
“They may not be doing anything but walking their dog,” Gaskill said. “But they’re going to have to prove it.”
Now Gaskill may be a mayor simply responding to the complaints of his community and may have the best intentions at heart, but, that said here is a place where fear (self admitted) has led to police-state measures. Here is a little background on this City which is to take on this experiment in Police State tactics:
As of the census[4] of 2000, there were 22,017 people, 8,941 households, and 6,133 families residing in the city. The population density was 714.6 people per square mile (275.9/km²). There were 9,789 housing units at an average density of 317.7 per square mile (122.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 97.87% White, 0.04% Black or African American, 0.42% Native American, 0.22% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.56% from other races, and 0.86% from two or more races. 1.33% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 
There were 8,941 households out of which 31.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.7% were married couples living together, 11.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.4% were non-families. 27.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 2.92.
In the city the population was spread out with 24.8% under the age of 18, 9.6% from 18 to 24, 28.0% from 25 to 44, 21.7% from 45 to 64, and 15.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 90.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.9 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $30,815, and the median income for a family was $39,431. Males had a median income of $28,103 versus $20,623 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,076. About 8.4% of families and 12.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.1% of those under age 18 and 12.1% of those age 65 or over.
So... here is why I write about this: 
What kind of society are we becoming when we allow for this? Where is the Federal Government and what do they have to say about this?

I understand why people would have this feeling and starting it as patrols between 11 PM and 5 AM is something that I get (though I don't like it). However, once this starts who is to say that it wouldn't expand. Whether it is 1 AM or 1 PM one cannot presume to know why someone is out and about. In our neighborhood, people's houses were being robbed not at night (when they were home) but in the afternoon when people were at work. Should the police then be called in to check everyone walking on the streets in the afternoon?

As a society we have become obsessed with crime and safety to the point of allowing ourselves to be turned into a cowering group of people who will do anything and give up any right just to be safe.

Let's look at the Gun argument... The NRA and their conservative allies are so fearful that they think everyone should be armed. Think of the chaos and mayhem that would result from everyone having the ability to use deadly force to solve even a minimum of problems. It's fear turned on it's head. In their world, every argument in public turns into a potential fight to the death. Traffic incidents (road rage) turn into a potential fatal conflict each time because really, if everyone's armed, who knows when someone with a "hair trigger temper" would decided to "snap". Doesn't the role of safety come into the calculation there (of course it doesn't as the NRA could give a real crap about safety)?

There exists between the Government and the People a social contract that talks about the Government's role in protecting the People from harm both foreign and domestic. So what happens when the "protection" turns out to be more harmful than the problem. Is giving up one's freedom to move around without authoritarian hassles worth losing some things in a robbery.

I say no it is not. I have no problem with the police taking precautions like stepped up patrols. I have no problem with the police stopping someone carrying a bunch of items from a darkened or empty looking house and hurriedly putting them into a running vehicle. But, to simply and stop, I.D. and create a database out of citizens stopped for the simple act of just walking around? That, to put it mildly, is ridiculous.

Now will this situation lead to anything more? Who knows? But these things all have a start point. It is important that we let our representatives know that these kinds of laws are unacceptable each and every time they surface. When Arizona did this, people protested. There should be no less an outcry when some small city in Arkansas does this. There should be no less outcry for the simple reason that this is the United States of America and in our nation, our people have built and continue to build a nation that is about social freedom and sane government. That won't last if it is not continuously engaged.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Rest In Peace Ravi Shankar

Truly a transformational musician and artist - Ravi Shankar brought Sitar music to the West.

His music has enhanced my life and for that I want to wish him well wherever he may be.

Shalom...


Friday, December 7, 2012

President Obama... Stand up for Egyptian Democracy, Now is your chance

Though the initial Arab Spring protests received a great deal of coverage, except for a few diaries, the recent turmoil in Egypt has generated little discussion here. But now things in that nation have taken a turn for the worse.

After successfully navigating a minefield in the flare-up of violence (with the help of U.S. Secretary of State Clinton) between Israel and Hamas, Egyptian President Morsi was on the way towards helping Egypt regain it's role as a regional power broker. But then... the other foot came down.

President Morsi, then went on to try to change the Egyptian revolution and subsequent elections which had swept him (and his religious cohorts) into power in the wake of the deposing of Egyptian Dictator Hosni Mubarak. Morsi, decided that to "save democracy" he had to destroy democracy. More to the point, he declared himself free of constraints in ruling and had a new constitution drafted.

However, many people in Egypt didn't particularly like this action and have taken to the streets in an attempt to defend their newly found democratic rights. In recent days, pro-Morsi demonstrators and anti-Morsi demonstrators have clashed with a number of people winding up dead, over 700 people injured, the Presidential palace barricaded, and the Presidents family evacuated from their home.

So here is the news from today:
Egyptian protesters broke through a barbed wire barricade keeping them from the presidential palace in Cairo on Friday and some climbed onto army tanks and waved flags. Up to 10,000 protesters had been penned behind the barrier, guarded by tanks that were deployed on Thursday after a night of violence between supporters and opponents of the Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, in which seven people were killed.
The two camps in the country's divide appeared at a deadlock, after President Mohammed Morsi gave a fiery televised speech Thursday night denouncing his opponents and refusing to call off a referendum on a draft constitution promulgated by his allies, even as he appealed for dialogue. The opposition rejected talks, saying he must first cancel the referendum and meet other demands.
Both sides seem to be seeing this as a fight for Egypt's future. Pro-Morsi demonstrators had this to say"
"Egypt is Islamic, it will not be secular, it will not be liberal," the crowd chanted in a funeral procession filling streets around the mosque. During the funeral, thousands chanted, "With blood and soul, we redeem Islam," pumping their fists in the air. Mourners yelled that opposition leaders were "murderers." 
One hardline cleric speaking to the crowd denounced anti-Morsi protesters as "traitors." Another declared that they will not allow Egypt to become "a den of hash smokers."
"We march on this path in sacrifice for the nation and our martyrs," a leading Brotherhood figure, Mohammed el-Beltagy, told the crowd. "We will keep going even if we all become martyrs. We will avenge them or die like them.
As prime benefactors of Egypt, the U.S. can and does have a role to play here. As we did during the overthrow of the Dictator Mubarak, and with the subsequent Egyptian elections we need to put our weight behind the democratic process that the Egyptians set in motion in the first place. While one can understand why the President would "play his cards close to the vest", what with things in the Middle East Region taking continually more dangerous turns, it is also important that the President let the Egyptian people know that he (and the United States) stands on the side of Democracy. 
President Morsi was and still maybe the democratic choice by the people of Egypt, however, just because that happened does not mean that as the democratic choice of the nation he has the power or right to destroy the very democracy that put him into power. I would bet, that had people known what he was going to attempt to do (though history should have been a guide given his background with the Brotherhood) he would not have been able to forge the coalition of liberals AND Islamists that he did to win the election in the first place.

So for President Obama, I believe the administration (and our nation) should stand up forcefully and publicly and be counted as a voice urging President Morsi to reconsider the path he seems to be on and to scrap his new constitution and attempts to destroy the budding democracy that Egypt is trying to build. Just as we fought voter suppression here in the U.S. when Republicans tried it, shouldn't we reflect that in our relationships with our allies? I urge everyone here to write to congress and let the Egyptian people know that we stand with them in their desire to preserve Democracy in their nation.

Republicans Show Us EXACTLY why they should not be in charge

The 2012 election came and went and THANK G-D that not did Mitt Romney not win, BUT, that the Democrats picked up two seats in the Senate as well as eight seats in the house. As we approach the "fiscal cliff" (which really is an over-hyped by both sides term), we get to watch the Republicans show why they truly are the party of C.Montgomery Burns (the cartoon villain on the Simpsons) come to life.

The fact of the matter is that Republicans cannot seem to get their act together no matter what. HERE is example No. # 1 - Mitch McConnell actually FILIBUSTERING HIMSELF

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/vfenXNi9HcI" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Just watch and listen to what the Senators are saying. They are flabbergasted that McConnell would do this, but, even more flabbergasted that the Republicans are going along with it. This, coming a week after Republicans voted against the U.S. supporting the U.N. treaty on disabled persons. It's incredible, that this clown show now known as the Republican Party has even a modicum of support from anyone. I mean, can one imagine if these people had been put in charge of the White House and the Senate? Holy Moly.... I don't think I would trust these people to wash my car, much less run the most powerful nation on the face of the Earth. It is incredible.

They simply cannot figure out how to govern. It has gotten so bad for them that Rand Paul, (R-Aqua Buddha and son of crazy person Ron Paul) has come up with this gem:
"I have yet another thought on how we can fix this. Why don't we let the Democrats pass whatever they want? ... All the Republicans vote present and let the Democrats raise taxes as high as they want to raise them ... and then make them own the tax increase. And when the economy stalls, when the economy sputters, when people lose their jobs, they know which party to blame."
Now personally, I think this is a great idea. Let's give the President's ideas a chance. Maintenance of the Middle Class Tax cut, coupled with some reasonable Defense Cuts, Real Tax Reform (like eliminating loopholes for companies that ship jobs overseas, or for private corporate jets to name a few) and effective reform like the Affordable Care Act -sure...I am all in favor of that and apparently so are the American people who delivered the President a landslide victory in the Electoral College and a solid four point win 51% - 47% win in the popular vote (OH.. the irony of that 47% number).

I mean here are the numbers on this:
"This is only the second time in Amore than three years that President Obama has broken 50 percent. And voters see Republicans as more likely to be obstructionist, and have less confidence in their ability to come up with the right solution to the nation's financial woes."

American voters say 56 - 38 percent that Obama and congressional Democrats will make a good faith effort to cooperate with congressional Republicans on important issues. By 51 - 43 percent, voters say congressional Republicans will not act in good faith.
So sure... Rand let's do this. Let's give the American people what they want and what we voted for. Take a shot at it. It might actually show that the Republican Party actually stands in support of their country rather than furthering their party.

So how do the Republicans respond.... They seem to be running around like Chickens with their heads cut off. They can't seem to figure out what to do and simply won't accept the data that the election gave them. I mean here is VP nominee Paul Ryan on NOT raising taxes on the wealthy . And as an added bonus goes on to talk about how President Obama really does not have a mandate, despite the fact that he won by 4% of the general populace (and got 51% of the vote), by over 100 electoral votes, the Democrats picked up two seats in the Senate, and Eight seats in a heavily Gerrymandered house (where the Dems. actually got more votes total in the house than Republicans).

As a party, they are simply not fit to lead this country anywhere. So all I can say is thank goodness that these jokers lost the election. America and the world are far better off for it.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Happy Hanukkah from PZ

Republican Counter Offer on Fiscal Cliff: "Like a Christmas wish list written by kids without access to calculators"

AHAHAHAHA... this is too funny.

Writing at Rachel Maddow's Blog, Steve Benen nails the Republicans as they try to drive the nation off "the fiscal cliff" all so that the wealthiest Americans will not see their incomes after the first $ 250,000 be taxed by a mere 3% more. The greed we are witnessing here is incredible. As Benen writes:

"So, what's the pitch? Under this proposal, Republicans would keep all of the Bush-era tax rates, but accept $800 billion in new revenue. How? Through "through pro-growth tax reform that closes special-interest loopholes and deductions while lowering rates." 

From there, the GOP leaders want to cut $600 billion from Medicare and Medicaid; cut $300 billion from mandatory programs; cut $200 billion by changing the consumer price index; and then cut another $300 billion in further discretionary spending.

To call this a "counteroffer" is to strip the word of meaning. Under the GOP plan, Republicans get the more than $1 trillion in spending cuts Obama already gave them; Republicans get the entitlement cuts they want; Republicans get hundreds of billions of dollars in additional cuts to programs they haven't identified; and Republicans get all of the Bush-era tax rates they've prioritized.

This isn't a "counteroffer"; it's a Christmas wish list written by kids without access to calculators."
And he is right. The loopholes that the Republicans are talking about would actually more deeply impact the Middle Class than the wealthy.

President Obama is right here to dismiss the Republican offer and it's silliness. It's nothing but a way to screw the poorer end of our society so that Rich can enjoy an ever widening income gap.

Paul Krugman over at the NY Times does a great job breaking this down further.
Here’s where we are right now: As his opening bid in negotiations, Mr. Obama has proposed raising about $1.6 trillion in additional revenue over the next decade, with the majority coming from letting the high-end Bush tax cuts expire and the rest from measures to limit tax deductions. He would also cut spending by about $400 billion, through such measures as giving Medicare the ability to bargain for lower drug prices. 
 So what are Republicans offering as an alternative? They say they want to rely mainly on spending cuts instead. Which spending cuts? Ah, that’s a mystery. In fact, until late last week, as far as I can tell, no leading Republican had been willing to say anything specific at all about how spending should be cut.

The veil lifted a bit when Senator Mitch McConnell, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, finally mentioned a few things — raising the Medicare eligibility age, increasing Medicare premiums for high-income beneficiaries and changing the inflation adjustment for Social Security. But it’s not clear whether these represent an official negotiating position — and in any case, the arithmetic just doesn’t work. 

Start with raising the Medicare age. This is, as I’ve argued in the past, a terrible policy idea. But even aside from that, it’s just not a big money saver, largely because 65- and 66-year-olds have much lower health costs than the average Medicare recipient. When the Congressional Budget Office analyzed the likely fiscal effects of a rise in the eligibility age, it found that it would save only $113 billion over the next decade and have little effect on the longer-run trajectory of Medicare costs. 

Increasing premiums for the affluent would yield even less; a 2010 study by the budget office put the 10-year savings at only about $20 billion. 

Changing the inflation adjustment for Social Security would save a bit more — by my estimate, about $185 billion over the next decade. But put it all together, and the things Mr. McConnell was talking about would amount to only a bit over $300 billion in budget savings — a fifth of what Mr. Obama proposes in revenue gains.
In the end the Mitt Romney and the Republicans ran on a platform dedicated to screwing Middle Class and poorer Americans financially, and sacrificing them on some Randian alter of trickle down theory in hopes of maintaining their core constituency's sense of entitlement. It wasn't the Democrats running on giving things away, (as Mitt claimed) it was the Republicans who ran on giving out whatever their big business backers asked for.

In my mind what is best here is that the President learned from his mistakes of the previous years (and the disastrous debt ceiling negotiations of last year). He is taking the "fight" outside of the Beltway and directly to the American People, and bless him for that. The American people need to see just how the Republicans will do just about anything so that the 2% doesn't have to pay one dime more in taxes and they don't care who they take down.

I know that my vote for President Obama was a good vote and I feel a lot better seeing this and knowing that if the President sticks to this, America is truly on it's way back.

The American Diaspora Dilemma

Earlier today while reading a left leaning website regarding Israel and American politics I came across the following quotes:
"American Jews lack the moral courage to criticize Israel publicly when Israel does such things"
and:
 "Perhaps it's time for American Jews to rethink automatic support for Israel."
I would say that the short answer to those comments that it is NOT a lack of moral courage to criticize Israel and "NO, it is NOT time for American Jews to rethink their support for Israel". I think that these comments deserve longer answers though, however, I don't believe that website is the place for those kinds of answers. But here are at least my answers, within a forum that doesn't cater to anti-Semitism and other forms of racism.

Now here is my take formulated through years of Youth Group, Community Activism AND having lived and gone to school in Israel for a year.

Addressing the first comment.... The answer to this is certainly "NO", American Jews do not lack the moral courage to criticize Israel publicly. Aside from the "Good Jews" (heavy sarcasm) at JVP and "post/anti- Zionist: community" who populate the blogosphere in a greater number of comments than actual individuals,  There are many Jewish critics of Israel that are Pro-Zionist who freely criticize the Israeli government in the American Community. One mainstream group that comes to mind is J Street. Over the last few years J Street has gained in popularity within the community, and while not quite being a mainstream movement, it certainly is gaining influence.

But even more to the point. Many of us do criticize the actions of the Israeli Government when we feel that they are acting against the interests of their own people as well as against those of the worldwide Jewish community. However that criticism is now kept within our own community or within sites and forums where these criticisms will not be used as fodder for bigots and racists to twist to their own means so that they can feel good about "Jew Washing" their complaints. Our logic here is sound. WHY would we want to give the people who posted those comments (anti-Semites in this case), something to support their claims, in a forum (in this case an article) that cackles with joy over the diplomatic row between Israel and Europe over Israeli construction in the "E-1 area" outside Jerusalem?

Personally, I have some real issues with this construction (article to follow) and it's after effects. I think, at this time it is an incredibly foolish idea. However, that is not for this article. I just don't feel the need to publicly "bash" Israel in a place where conspiracy theorists, bigots (of all kinds), and people that are completely ignorant of the politics of the situation are welcomed and given a preferred platform. There simply is no need to do that as frankly it won't do any good.

As for the Second comment.... the answer is an unequivocal "NO". In my opinion, here is no need whatsoever to re-think the relationship of American Jews to Israel. Despite any issues with the current government there, I see absolutely zero reason to not continue to support the existence of the Jewish State and what it means to our people.

Understanding history here is the key. For thousands of years the Jewish people have struggled for their place in this world. Israel and it's people represent the success of the Zionist dream that created a modern, dynamic country at a time when most of the world was firmly against the Jewish people. To think that we as a people would be better off without Israel is sheer nonsense. It is simply unimaginable to me that any Jewish person could stand against the nation of Israel.

Now, this doesn't mean accepting or giving credence to everything that the current Right Wing ruling coalition utters. Nor does it mean accepting the policies that Israel seems to be putting place with regards to increased settlement activity in the Occupied Territories. It just means that for the anti-Semite that made these comments, he or she doesn't have to be privy to the discussion - see the answer to the first part.

On the other hand, we also should not be held hostage to the macho fantasy's and bigoted ramblings of the Right. Just because we don't buy their completely distorted view of history, a view fueled by hatred and a strong sense of inadequacy doesn't mean that as American Jews we somehow dislike Israel. Of course to these "wannabee Israelis" (though they would never actually live in Israel as that would require them to actually have to sacrifice, and settle for a lesser standard of living), if one doesn't buy the nonsense and hatred spouted by them... somehow, someway means that we are acting just like an "ostrich:" willing to stick our collective heads in the ground until danger passes.

What the Rightists don't understand is that our sense of history is not governed by hatred or bigotry. Our sense of history is rooted in the pride of our traditions of humanity, understanding and strength of community. It is governed by scholars, warriors and our history as a people. We refuse to give in to the fear that dominates their sector of the community particularly in the U.S. A fear that causes them to abandon every principle they supposedly stand for and even sacrifice their loyalty to their fellow American citizens on the alter of supposedly standing with Israel.

MOREOVER, they claim that only they have a sense of history. That no one else, but them holds the true key to what the Jewish community has gone through for the past 3,000 years. As one deranged columnist writes in the Times of Israel: 
Until progressive-left Jews, who make up the majority in the diaspora, begin to articulate some sense of the history of the Jewish people in the Middle East we can never win the sympathies of world opinion.  It’s probably too late for that, anyway.  The world doesn’t know this history because we fail to enlighten them of it and part of the reason for that is the progressive Politically Correct disinclination to ever say anything negative concerning Islam.
This is a matter of respecting ourselves through articulating our history and if we cannot respect ourselves, then just who will?
Here's a word towards this columnist. Most of us know our history as a people and most of us have plenty of respect for our community that we actually understand our history. We understand the lessons we have learned and continue to learn. Rushing off to try to create Masada plays well in theatres, and in the the living room of wannabee Maccabees but, that's about it. Rather, it is important (and most American Jews do understand this) that we play on our strengths as a culture that values human life and making moral decisions. One thing that has kept our community together throughout 2,500 years of unrelenting persecution is our sense of who we are and what we believe in.

This plays out in our relationship with America. Unlike the bigots on the right, our concern is for our fellow American citizen. The transparent hypocrisy of supposedly standing up for universal human rights (in other words, supporting attacks both verbal and otherwise on Islam and it's adherents) all the while actively supporting, and campaigning for a candidate and a party that stood against human rights for Americans is pathetic to say the least. To actually say that one looks forward to voting for a candidate and a party that actually calls for teaching of Evolution as only a theory, that calls for suppression of civil liberties for America's LGBT community, that calls for supporting only the richest Americans at the expense of 98% of the our population and then to say that they are truly for human rights is completely mind-boggling in its derangement. It would be laughable if it were not so pathetic.

So for most of us, it is "Clowns to the Left of us and Jokers to the Right". Because the hard Left and it's acceptance of anti-Semitism, indeed has become a side-show unto itself. It's a bad joke that has policy support for similar positions on the Hard Right. (witness Hungary and the Right's claim that all Jews should be registerered).. At the same time, the Lunatic Right feels it needs to replay Masada and thinks that Israel should pull away from the U.S. and from the U.N. (Note they only think that sitting in their little living rooms in places like Oakland, California.If they ever had deal with the realities of Israeli life they would probably either crap their pants or fly home on the first plane all while formulating various stories about how tough they are). Funny thing, you know who else wants to see no U.S. Military aid to Israel? You guessed it! The Hard Left.

In the end, our community has faced this challenge and survived. I am confident we will continue too without having to resort to becoming what we hate the most. We are not that weak.