Recent ‘Toon Gnuz from Paul Jamiol

Our good friend and honorary Critter Paul Jamiol has been busy lately: illustrating a children’s book; working on a new collection of his excellent editorial cartoons to come out in early 2020; plus, most days, putting out new, grimly accurate observations on these terrible times.  (All images are copyrighted by Paul Jamiol.)

jamiol banger the sausage dog book cover

pauls new book

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That’s just a sampling.  For more, and to see how talented Paul’s wife, Lin, is with her green thumb [and who knew that Paul is an amazing photographer!], visit Jamiol’s World.

Paul has been chronicling political/current events since September 2000.  His encouragement and kindness to us Critters when we left ThinkProgress to start TheZoo, as well as our longstanding friendship, will always be appreciated – hell, I still LOVE our personalized header ‘toon.  I know that we here at TheZoo became pretty burnt out trying to do our part – it’s so damned hard to keep covering this shitshow, when day after day, even hour after hour, horrors upon horrors unfold.  Thank you, Paul, for your dedication to illustrating  what could well become America’s downfall.  It’s a grim task, and I don’t envy you.  Please carry on for as long as you can stand it, and we’ll try to keep up.

 

Open Thread – Come and get it!

The Watering Hole, Tuesday March 29, 2016 – Environmental News and Food Politics

THE BIG U.S.OIL BUST

“Back in 2010, the price of a barrel of Brent crude (the international oil price benchmark) topped $80. That made it profitable to extract oil from tight shale formations, which is especially costly. A drilling frenzy ensued, domestic oil production skyrocketed, oil companies raked in profits and oil patch communities prospered.

But all that new oil on the market, plus China’s slowing economic growth, began to dampen oil prices in the summer of 2014. Instead of curtailing production to keep prices afloat, OPEC’s leaders launched a thinly veiled price war, clearly aimed at putting U.S. producers out of business. Here are some indicators that OPEC won the war.”

Oil bust – A red state phenomenon. Will this affect 2016 elections?

The Watering Hole, Monday, September 8th, 2014: Huh?

I guess I’m a glutton for punishment, but over the weekend I was looking at the TP thread about Dick Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson’s recent appearance (apparently as a religious/foreign policy expert?) on Sean Hannity’s RWNJ lovefest, er, ‘news program.’ Robertson was asked about the situation with ISIS, or, more correctly, ISIL. (The full transcript, if you can stomach it, is here.) Here’s the pertinent excerpt of Robertson’s response:

“In this case, you either have to convert them which I think would be next to impossible. I’m not giving up on them but I’m just saying either convert them or kill them, one or the other…I think converting them, maybe has that time come and gone… [I’d] much rather have a bible study with all of them and show them the error of their ways and point them to Jesus Christ…however if it’s a gun fight and that’s what they’re looking for, me personally I am prepared for either one.”

At the TP thread, after reading way too many comments (including this gem: “The next attack in U.S. the only people that will Truly stand against them are Christians”)   expressing the idea that ISIL is coming to a neighborhood near you soon – or they’re already here – and we’ll all be beheaded in our beds, so as a good christian nation we should just kill them all, this started:

Dennis Terry ·
“If the liberals had these murderous animals coming into their house, they would do just as Phil suggested, and so would I. We ARE our brother’s keeper, and we should stand in the gap for the innocent and protect them from the murderous bullies that vow to dominate the world. We should get rid of them while the numbers are still on the lower end of the spectrum.”

Me ·
“”If the liberals had these murderous animals coming into their house”

All of you hate-filled “christian” fearmongers keep using this type of argument. Do you believe what some of the R politicians are saying, that ISIL warriors are coming through our southern border disguised as refugee children? Get a grip, and realize that some of the warhawk macho ‘we’ve got the TRUE god so let’s kill all of those fanatics who are killing for THEIR “true god.”

I have no more fear of an ISIL hit squad invading my house than I do of your god striking me dead for not believing in him. I’ll sleep peacefully tonight while you all wet your beds.”

Dennis Terry ·
“Jane E. Schneider First of all, I will not be wetting my bed at night, I am NOT losing sleep over them or liberals, nor am I a “hate filled” Christian. Who the heck died and gave YOU the right to look down your self righteous nose at us when you know nothing about us? I might possibly be the best friend that you ever had. Why are you so angry? I am my brother’s keeper and I want ISIS stopped at any cost to protect the innocent people over there. Is that hating? I think that it is loving the innocent and being forced to destroy evil. I don’t WANT anyone to die, but with these animalistic beings, the only choice we have to stop them is by killing them, just like we did Hitler, or any other murderous personification of evil. If they would live and let live, we could all live together in peace, but these radicals will NOT do that- they have a WELL KNOWN agenda of world domination, so you must know very little about them. Do you NOT think that these people going around cutting people’s heads off and raping the women and cutting off the children’s heads and putting them on poles….do you NOT think that they are acting like cold blooded animals? Do you NOT believe in evil? Do these people NOT fit your definition of evil? Why are you so venomous toward Christians instead of ISIS? Doesn’t that strike you a bit odd? It does me. And YES, if you had a murderer or a rapist come into your house at night, you would either WISH that you had a gun to protect yourself, your children or other loved ones, OR you would call someone with a gun (police), and hope that they made it there in time. If not, you would be a fool…….but wait a minute…..you don’t believe in God, so, according to the Bible, you ARE a fool from the get-go, for a fool hath said in his heart that there is no God. You can sit there and marinade in your hatred for Christians and all other things spiritual instead of directing your anger toward the REAL evil, you have that right., but you are foolish for doing that.

Me ·
Dennis Terry, I went to Catholic school for 13 years, was raised by very devout parents who actually exemplified Christ’s teachings better than the majority of “Christian” leaders and “Christian” pundits on TV. The very idea of killing anyone for their religious beliefs is abhorrent and a complete contradiction to everything Christ said. That was how I was brought up.

Today’s U.S. religious leaders are a whole ‘nother kettle of fish, and nothing that they are preaching these days has anything to do with actual morality and ethical behavior. And just because they no longer do their conquering crusades with swords or torture devices does not mean that they’re any less dangerous than any other religious fanatics. They have lost their own spirituality, their own morals, their own souls, for power and money and domination of others. The only real difference between U.S. religious fanatics and Middle-Eastern religious fanatics is their methods – both of which I reject.

If you and the other “Christian” commenters here think that your religious views are being attacked, too bad, we “godless liberals” have been under deliberate coordinated attack since at least the ’50s, when “In God We Trust” was added to our currency to distinguish the supposedly-god-fearing U.S. nation from those “godless commies.” So we’re pretty sick of it, because we DO have morals, and family values, and we work hard and pay taxes, and we’re patriotic, too.

[Please keep in mind that it’s 2:00am here in NY, so I’m tired and jumping around a bit, since you decided to ask me “20 questions”, not all of which I’m going to bother to respond to as they have nothing to do with the topic of the thread.]

I do believe in evil, but not in the satan/biblical way; I believe that some humans either lack or have a particular DNA section that makes them sociopaths. Obviously, people such as those in ISIL take that to a higher level, and I am not defending them in the least. I’m just sick and tired of the hypocrisy of so-called Christians who use their religion as a shield and a weapon, and cannot see that the more they advocate for violence, the less Christ-like they become. Not to mention the danger that they put the U.S. in, loudly calling for their own version of jihad, which does not go unnoticed around the world. But that aspect never seems to bother the growing number of xenophobic and insular U.S. citizens.

I don’t hate all Christians; like Ghandi said, “I like your Christ, but I don’t like your Christians.” If someone who claims to be Christian acts like the Christ that I learned about, I’m just fine with that, I applaud them. Just because I believe that most organized religions are a menace and hinder human progress, doesn’t mean that the particular set of moral values ascribed to Christ is dangerous, it’s the exact opposite. But these days I guess Christ isn’t described as the “Prince of Peace” anymore, right?

You can sit their with your own shield and weapon of your “Christianity” telling me that I’m the high and mighty one looking down my nose at you, but you’re the one marinating in your own assholier-than-thou [HT Zooey] stew telling me that I’m the fool “from the get-go” for not believing in your god and your holy book. You mind your own soul, and I’ll mind mine, thankyouverymuch. Goodnight.”

~ later, not as a reply ~

Dennis Terry ·
Look, I was minding my own business and from out of nowhere, you started attacking me and my God and Christianity, and making very goofy accusations which you had NO clue about. And THEN, you made the stupid statement of “’we’ve got the TRUE god so let’s kill all of those fanatics who are killing for THEIR “true god.” “ What? Where did that come from? It has NOTHING to do with Who I follow or what god THEY follow- ISIS needs to be stopped, NOT because they are Muslim, but because they are vile, evil , murderous thugs, so why did you say something that bizarre to start with, and why did you attack me instead of them? I haven’t murdered anyone or cut off anyone’s head!

Then you said, “And just because they no longer do their conquering crusades with swords or torture devices does not mean that they’re any less dangerous than any other religious fanatics.” Again, a stupid statement- Protestants never engaged in the Crusades, that was strictly a CATHOLIC doings, and what dangers do Christians have in store? Post the 10 Commandments in our schools to teach them moral values to protect society and to keep them from a life of crime? Or teach abstinence instead of having babies out of wedlock? Or lead some prison inmates to the Lord so that they stop their lives of crime, and become law abiding citizens? Or give Hope to the Hopeless? OMGosh! Call the National Guard! What happened to you to make you so angry about religion, Christianity in particular?

Then you said- “So we’re pretty sick of it (being attacked), because we DO have morals, and family values, and we work hard and pay taxes, and we’re patriotic, too.” But you are an atheist, so why do you have morals? Aren’t you a biological accident from some primordial slime? Aren’t morals God’s values? They aren’t biological in nature. The Bible talks about people like you, having a FORM of Godliness, but denying the Power thereof. This is going to sound mean, but I don’t intend for it to. I am GLAD that you had some wonderful parents that taught you morals, and that you are honoring them for that, but you need to get your priorities straight about what you are going to believe. If you are an atheist, act like an atheist and give up EVERYTHING pertaining to God, including morals and values.

Why are you liberal atheists “under attack”? Because a small, handful of atheists go out of their way to take Prayer and Bible out of school and our sporting events and our graduation ceremonies and are trying to remove ALL aspects of Christianity from society, even though the VAST MAJORITY do NOT want them removed. We KNOW that Christianity teaches those same morals that you are so proud of having, taught to you BY CHRISTIAN parents, and we know that THAT is WHERE your parents got them from to teach to you in the first place! Can’t you see the hypocrisy there? You have morals and values, that YOU ARE PROUD OF, TAUGHT TO YOU BY CHRISTIAN parents, yet you want to prevent other people from being taught those same vales and morals that you seem to hold so dear! The Bible, once again talks about atheists who in the Last Days will call GOOD-EVIL, and will call EVIL-GOOD.

You say that you believe in Evil, but NOT in a Biblical way, but evil “IS” a moral judgment FROM God. From an atheistic, evolutionary point of view, we are animals, and animals do whatever they do, there is NO right or wrong, good or evil- THOSE ARE moral judgments, straight from a Moral God. The atheistic, evolutionary view is, Survival of the fittest, kill or be killed- THESE are natural events and actions WITHOUT God, without Morals. THAT is why atheistic regimes and dictators murder multiple-millions of their people, their subjects, to make examples out of them to keep the rest in line to maintain their death grip on their selfish, atheistic power.

And then you sink to your atheistic true colors by calling me, “assholier-than-thou “ comment. I would NEVER say that to you, and I believe that your atheism is overshadowing your “moral” upbringing.

I don’t understand the double mindedness, and double standards of atheism, or why you work so hard to fight against something that you claim to NOT believe in. There are people who believe in unicorns- I DON’T believe in unicorns or UFO’s so why in the world would I waste my time fighting them for their beliefs? Something to consider- WHAT IF, the Bible “IS” TRUE, and where the Bible says, If God is NOT your Father, then you are of your father, Satan, what if- your hatred toward Christianity and all things pertaining to God is actually a SPIRITUAL matter, and you atheists are pawns, being used by Satan and not realizing it? That’s something to consider.”

Adm Andrew J. Walker ·
“Good arguments my friend. An atheist wouldn’t actually have the time to debate a religious article because they would see it as a waste of time (a total rejection of all forms of theology or anyone who practices them.) It sounds like this guy is looking for justification for deviating from what he was taught growing up by attacking others. The goal is to see if his arguments stand, so that he can feel better about his decision to reject what he or she learned at an early age.

So basically the comments on the message board are his or her way of dealing with repressed feelings of anxiety about the afterlife. Better not to let someone drag you into a circular debate that at its root isn’t actually about religion, or the lack-there-of, at all.

What I am really saying is that there are some mommy/daddy issues here.”

Dennis Terry ·
“Adm Andrew J. Walker I believe that is very perceptive of you. But atheists do this all the time, and the person I was talking to, there is a double mindedness that she is proud of, yet hates and wants to destroy, all at the same time, so something else is brewing underneath the surface it seems. I truly believe that it is spiritual warfare, and these people, as I said, are being used as pawns, and have no idea of what is REALLY going on. She said things about the Catholic church which I wonder is the root of her hatred, and if so, I can understand it, as the CC has ALWAYS had many, multiple conflicts with the Bible, and a history of unBiblical, unhealthy, spiritual issues. Thanks for the comment my friend!”

Becky Marsland-Hill ·
“Wow, that is spot on Dennis……I am sorry someone attacked you. But those are truly words of wisdom you replied back”

Dennis Terry ·
“Becky Marsland-Hill Thanks Becky. I’m not saying that I am perfect or that I am wise in anyway, but I “DO” know God and He wants us to take a stand against evil and to help others in need. God Himself waged wars against evil doers to protect the world, and His people. He also had a lot to say about those who would reject Him and His incredible sacrifice to purchase our Salvation. This person was spewing hatred toward the Christianity for the Crusades, and that was bogus. It was NOT Christianity- it was the leadership of the CATHOLIC church, of which she, herself was raised! The leadership of the CC was NOT acting as agents of Christianity- they were engaged in unGodly activities such as murdering Christians, and burning the Christians and anyone else who DARED to disagree with them at the stake. They went around in the Crusades and other areas DOING EXACTLY OPPOSITE OF WHAT JESUS TAUGHT! They were doing exactly what atheists have always done- silence those who disagree with you, however you have to do it, and isn’t smart enough to see that she is hating Christianity for what the atheists were doing, under the guise OF RELIGION! Anyway, I feel so sorry for people like her and wish her well”

Wow – just wow.  As badmoodman commented on this last week, “Irony facepalms itself, then throws up its hands in unconditional surrender.”  Perfect, bmm.
This is our daily open thread, please talk about anything you want to.  I’ll just be over here banging my head against the wall.

The Watering Hole, Monday, October 14th, 2013: More KXL BS

Going through my emails, one from moneynews.com (the $$ division of Newsmax.com) caught my eye: “Pickens: Keystone Pipeline Would Make OPEC Obsolete” Huh?

But first, in an earlier, related article by John Morgan, titled “Steve Forbes: Build the Keystone Pipeline and Frack, Baby, Frack”, failed Presidential hopeful Steve Forbes lies about the proposed pipeline’s safety:

Forbes magazine editor Steve Forbes, a stalwart defender of the Keystone XL pipeline, says approving the pipeline would actually help prevent oil spills, not cause more environmental damage, and that fracking is a key element of America’s energy future.

“If you don’t approve pipelines, we’re going to be moving more and more oil on trains, which is just begging for accidents,” he told Yahoo.

Forbes maintained the Keystone pipeline would create 20,000 jobs, more than some other estimates. The fate of the proposed pipeline, which would push an estimated 830,000 barrels per day of crude oil from Canada to U.S. refineries on the Gulf Coast, may be decided in a final ruling from the White House by year-end.

Forbes noted that fracking is boosting local economies in some areas. “Because of fracking, Pennsylvania is prospering, towns are moving up — areas that had been depressed before.” By contrast, upstate New York, where fracking is not permitted, “looks more and more like East Germany before the Wall fell,” Forbes said.

Forbes, CEO of Forbes Media and a staunch Republican, said a big problem with U.S. energy policy is that President Barack Obama “does not like oil, gas or coal.” “He seems to like windmills, a nice medieval technology,” Forbes said.

“The inconvenient truth is that we have not had an increase in temperatures in 15 or 16 years even though we are pumping more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.”

Mr. Forbes, you are delusional. An oil corporation with a history of leaks and spills is going to build a pipeline that is so amazingly safe that it will actually “prevent” oil spills? And, while rail transport may not be ideal, one can count on one hand the number of rail accidents involving oil (my apologies to the victims of the accident in Quebec.) How many spills have Keystone and other oil corporations already caused, and are still trying to clean up? And for the record, upstate NY looks pretty much the same as it always has, thankyouverymuch. Nice Gore-bashing at the end, Mr. Forbes, stay classy.

Okay, now fast-forward back to “Pickens: Keystone Pipeline Would Make OPEC Obsolete” ~

From Friday, October 11th, an excerpt from an article by Dan Weil:

The Keystone XL oil pipeline would eliminate the United States’ dependence on OPEC, says energy entrepreneur T. Boone Pickens.

“Canadians say they have 250 billion barrels [of oil]. That’s exactly what the Saudis claim they have,” he tells CNBC. “You’re sitting there with the same amount of oil available to the United States from Canada . . . as [from] Saudi Arabia.”

“You could make them [OPEC] obsolete two or three different ways, and that [Keystone] is one of them.”

The Keystone pipeline would run from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico. President Obama must decide whether the pipeline can be built.

Pickens would like to see an oil transportation system combining the United States, Canada and Mexico.

As United States energy output, we are on pace to overtake Russia as the world’s biggest producer of oil and natural gas and may already have done so, according to The Wall Street Journal.”

Okay, so (maybe) Canada has the same amount of oil as Saudi Arabia. But both are sold on the world market, so it’s not like the U.S. is getting a discount from Canada (at least not that I’ve heard or read.) But let’s consider the real concrete difference: Saudi oil is NOT being transported straight through the “heartland” of the U.S. The inevitable spill(s) along an almost 1200-mile pipeline would cause an environmental disaster for the local wildlife, ecosystem, and humans. If the Ogallala Aquifer, which supplies the drinking water for millions of American citizens, became contaminated, those millions of people would be at risk. In the article, Mr. Pickens “explains” (maybe ‘complains’ would have been a better word?) that the ‘U.S. Navy protects the Strait of Hormuz so that 17 million barrels of oil travels through it a day.’ Since I’m sure that the U.S. Navy presence in the Strait of Hormuz is for more than just keeping the oil flowing, if his point is that we’re wasting taxpayer money by being there, that dog won’t hunt. The U.S. will always have its fingers in the Middle East pie. What price tag would you put on the lives of millions of citizens? Oh, BTW, Mr. Pickens, what are those other “different ways to make OPEC obsolete”?

Note that neither Mr. Pickens nor Mr. Forbes mentioned renewable energy sources.

Now…for some of the riper turds from the shitstorm of comments after the article:

“The MESSIAH is far too concerned with MAKING ALL OF US HURT, to be bothered with being a LEADER. Like MICHELLE, he wants all of us to suffer and become third-world surfs like she sees us and he wants us to be. Neither will be happy until they see the muslim emblem replace our stars and stripes. Keystone is very possible, but we need to get congress to grow up and start doing what they were elected to do…. the OATH they all took..!!!!!!”

“I know former president Jiminy Carter is in the pocket an Arab emirate, and Slick Willie Clinton is in everyone’s pockets, but how or why does Obama not want to get ahead. The only explanation is that he wants the American middle class to fail first. We are being betrayed by a failing presidency.”

“If the Fed Govt. would open Keystone which is by far safer than Obama’s/Warrens Oil Train that hauls hundreds of thousands of gal. of oil through all the cities and town to the refineries and makes an extra $10.00 a barrel more than the pipeline transportation.Sure you could have a pipeline spill but the technology is much better now and they can turn the valve of.”

And my personal favorite:
“This muslim Islamic puke doesn’t want the pipeline because right now we are supporting the Arabs with our money to buy oil at a premium price, and then we go to the gas station and buy the gas from them again and they make more money off of us. This Hitler pig just wants us to support them and the hell with us here. We need millions of good jobs here and this pig gives everything back to them and our country goes down in flames just like the demoncrap pigs have done with Detroit, they will do with our entire country and then the Islamic murdering pigs come in and take us over and anyone that does not fall to islam, well they will be beheaded, that’s how that cult of pigs deal with what they call infedels. Well, I say….screw them, I am a Christian and been that way all my life and I’ll stay that way.
so go screw you Hitler moron!!!!!!!!!!!”

I’d put a pretty picture up to cleanse your visual palate, but this is already too long. Sorry!

Open Thread – so, what else is new?

The Watering Hole, Monday, July 29th, 2013: Saint Ronnie? I Don’t Think So!

jimmycarter460
I have always had great admiration for President James Earl Carter. I confess that I did not start voting until 1988, after I married Wayne (so Clinton was “my first.”) But my parents were pretty staunch Democrats who voted for Carter, and in those times we actually did sit down to watch the evening news every night, and I watched the Sunday political shows with my dad each weekend – which, of course, usually ended with me taking a nap. So I was not completely ignorant of political machinations, especially with dad filling me in on the background issues.

President Carter’s administration covered some troubled times, but he always spoke to the nation in a unique combination of down-home-folksy Sheriff Andy and subtly eloquent professor. That he is still, and always will be, derided by Republicans as one of the worst Presidents in history, just proves how little the Republicans respect intellect and integrity.

President Jimmy (as I like to call him) differentiated himself from too many other former Presidents by, after leaving office, continuing for decades to serve his planet, his country, and humanity in general. Jimmy and Rosalynn remain wonderful examples of “public service” at its most noble.

Here’s a selection of interviews, articles, and videos, all from the last year or two, which include President Carter’s views on America’s dysfunctional democracy and the effect of Edward Snowdon’s NSA leaks; his speech at the Carter Center’s “Mobilizing Faith for Women” conference on June 23, 2013; and an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan from January 2012 on a wide range of topics, but mostly about the Middle East.

And saving the best for last, here’s Part 1 and Part 2 of President Carter’s appearance on The Daily Show, April 9th, 2013.

In my opinion, no other President has acted so Presidential after leaving office as has President Jimmy Carter. The right-wing can criticize and ridicule him all they want, but Jimmy deserves beatification to sainthood much more than their much-vaunted but historically inaccurate Saint Ronnie.

jimmy and rosalynn

This is our Open Thread. What’s your opinion about President Jimmy Carter? Or on anything else, for that matter.

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, June 19, 2013: Syria Announces Plans to Arm the Tea Party

In response to President Obama’s announcement that he will begin providing weapons to Syrian Rebels because the Syrian Army used chemical weapons, Syrian President Al-Assad announced his country will begin arming Tea Party Patriots to support their revolution against the American Government.

Syrian Armored Personnel Carrier reportedly en route to Tea Party Patriots

Syrian Armored Personnel Carrier reportedly en route to Tea Party Patriots in Texas

“It is widely known” Al-Assad proclaimed, “that the American government sponsors the widespread uses of chemical and biogical weapons. Through its puppet, Monsanto, a corporation totally immunized from civil and criminal prosecution for its actions, the U.S. Goverment is poisoning its people with biologially altered food, sprayed with chemicals so toxic their agents have to wear hazmat suits.” The Syrian President went on to note that the United States tried to invade other countries with these biological and chemical weapons, only to be soundly defeated abroad.

Syrian Troop Transport reportedly leaving Tijuana on its way to North Carolina Tea Party Patriots

Syrian Troop Transport reportedly leaving Tijuana on its way to North Carolina Tea Party Patriots

“The Tea Party stands out,” Al-Assad said, “in its open resistence, carrying small arms and assault rifles to its protests. And the Tea Party not only opposes the deployment of these chemical and biological weapons, it opposes everything the corrupt American Goverment does. That makes it an ideal ally in our fight against American Imperialism.”

A spokesperson for the Syrian Government refused to comment on the rumor that the government has already recruited bedouins to disguise themselves as Mexicans to bring heavy machine guns and other military equipment across the southwest border between the U.S. and Mexico. However, flight manifests indicate a large number of camels and other items of a suspicious nature have already been shipped to Tijuana.

As of this writing, every Tea Party spokesperson contacted by The Zoo has flatly denied any deal with the Syrian Government. However, it goes without saying that if Tea Party militias were receiving arms from a foreign government, they would flatly deny doing so. Thus their denials merely feed the growing suspicion that the Tea Party is planning a major offensive against the Obama Administriation, with the full backing of the Syrian Government.

OPEN THREAD

TWO ARMS – TO ARMS – TOO, ARMS!

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, May 29, 2013: Not Again!

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?

“It was like re-living the Vietnam war all over again, only this time without the trees and swamps and jungles.” remarked John McCain after returning safely from Syria. “I was held, basically, as a Prisoner of War for what seemed an eternity.”

McCain spent a total of two hours in the complete mercy of terrorist rebels hell-bent on overthrowing the righteous government of Syria. “Make no mistake about it,” McCain continued, “some of those rebels are more extreme than the Taliban.”

McCain’s mission, undertaken with the full knowledge of the Obama Administration, was to deliver a message of support to the rebels. “Well, actually, I got the messages mixed up. In all the haste and security and confusion, I grabbed a note I got from Paul Ryan instead of the note from the President. So, when I got there…well, you can imagine their reaction when I read Ryan’s note. So. There I was, face to face with armed radical Islamists when I read “If you will accept the Lord Jesus Christ into your heart … That’s as far as I got before my security guards picked me up by the armpits and hightailed it out of Syria.”

OPEN THREAD.
FEEL FREE TO PASS NOTES AROUND

The Watering Hole, Thursday, October 18th, 2012: Romney’s Foreign to Foreign Policy

While we’re all still on a bit of a contact high from President Obama’s excellent performance in Tuesday night’s debate, the final Presidential Debate, supposedly covering U.S. foreign policy, looms just around the corner. As a follow-up to my post on Monday, I’m offering two pertinent articles from Foreign Policy magazine.

The first is a piece of rather hawkish advice offered to President Obama by David Rothkopf, which, in part, points out the frightening fact that:

“To get to buried Iranian facilities, such as the enrichment plant at Fordow, would require bunker-busting munitions on a scale that no Israeli plane is capable of delivering. The mission, therefore, must involve the United States, whether acting alone or in concert with the Israelis and others.”

Oy!

The second, as I mentioned on Monday, is a return to Mitt Romney’s recent foreign-policy speech at VMI (Virginia Military Institute.) While I find it disturbing for a Presidential candidate to be obviously undermining his audience’s Commander-in-Chief, even more disturbing were Romney’s comments about the recent tragic attack on our embassy in Benghazi. This line in particular jumped out at me: “These mobs hoisted the black banner of Islamic extremism over American embassies on the anniversary of 9/11.” I’m still looking, but I have not found ANY independent corroboration of this little tidbit.

The following are a few more excepts. Of course, it figures that Romney is a proponent of an Obama Administration policy with which many of us liberals take great issue.

“Drones and the modern instruments of war are important tools in our fight, but they are no substitute for a national security strategy for the Middle East.”

Anyway, Romney continues…

“It is time to change course in the Middle East. That course should be organized around these bedrock principles: America must have confidence in our cause, clarity in our purpose and resolve in our might. No friend of America will question our commitment to support them. No enemy that attacks America will question our resolve to defeat them. And no one anywhere, friend or foe, will doubt America’s capability to back up our words.”

Based on this attitude, Romney wants to pour an unnecessary and unasked-for $2 trillion-with-a-T into the Department of Defense.

“I’ll work with Israel to increase our military assistance and coordination. For the sake of peace, we must make clear to Iran through actions, not just words, that their nuclear pursuit will not be tolerated.
I’ll reaffirm our historic ties to Israel and our abiding commitment to its security. The world must never see any daylight between our two nations.

Why? The United States of America is NOT the same country, we don’t share the same culture or the same history as Israel; we are not geographical neighbors experiencing common challenges. The Constitution says nothing about our country’s ability to create a new country, nor about then being responsible for that new country forever. The President of the United States swears an oath to protect and defend our Constitution, and that oath does not mention protecting and defending Israel as well. Israel is fully capable of defending itself, having been greatly helped by our military and financial assistance. Isn’t it time to cut the cord and let the allegedly adult sovereign state of Israel be responsible for its own actions? But I digress…

“Finally, I will recommit America to the goal of a democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with the Jewish state of Israel. On this vital issue, the President has failed, and what should be a negotiation process has devolved into a series of heated disputes at the United Nations. In this old conflict, as in every challenge we face in the Middle East, only a new President will bring the chance to begin anew.”

Now, that’s the ultimate lying hypocrisy from Romney, who, in the infamous, supposedly-private “47% speech” to big-money donors, said:

“And I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel, and these thorny issues, and I say there’s just no way. And so what you do is you say you move things along the best way you can. You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that it’s going to remain an unsolved problem. I mean, we look at that in China and Taiwan. All right, we have a potentially volatile situation, but we sort of live with it. And we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve. We don’t go to war to try and resolve it.

In other words, Romney has no plan for the Middle East. Does this mean that Romney’s believes in “hopey-changey”?

I also ran across this interesting and helpful analysis on Romney’s VMI speech, by Andrew Quinn.

This is our daily open thread–what do YOU have to say?

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, June 20, 2012: Does it really Matter?

Ok, so for the next few months, if you’re in a “swing” State, you’ll be inundated with SuperPAC commercials designed to get you to vote against your own best interests. We will also be systematically bombarded with messages from the Mainstream Media designed to influence our thinking.

IT’S ALL A SHOW. IT REALLY DOESN’T MATTER.

If the Powers That Be really want Obama out, all they have to do is raise gas prices to about $5.00/gallon. Instead, gas prices are going down, heading into the summer vacation season. That’s not to say they won’t go up between now and the election – but they are an accurate predictor of where our economy will head. So, pay attention to the pump, not the talking heads.

Ok, that’s my $0.0199 cents. And you?

OPEN THREAD
JUST REMEMBER
EVERYTHING I SAID
DOESN’T REALLY MATTER

 

The Watering Hole, Monday, May 14th, 2012: Teh Crazy, Local to International

For this Monday’s mix, let’s start with local (to me, anyway) weirdness:

A different aspect on ‘robbing the poor’ involves attempted theft from a local drop box. According to the Patch news article, three men allegedly were not only stealing from the drop boxes, they were stealing the drop boxes themselves. The men stated that they worked for a company called “God’s Property”, although my quick search of the googles/bing could only come up with a house-cleaning service by that name.

On the national crazy homefront: The religious right is celebrating what they believe to be President Obama’s downfall in November, now that the President has officially endorsed same-sex marriage. Adding to the craziness in this article from The Daily Beast is the following quote from Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association:

“President Obama just torpedoed his chance to win in November,” Bryan Fischer, the firebrand spokesman for the American Family Association, told The Daily Beast. “This was a move born of desperation, a Hail Mary pass. The results in North Carolina make it abundantly clear that the American people are not with him on gay marriage. This is a golden opportunity for Mitt Romney. If he will send a strong, consistent and unambiguous message in support of natural marriage he will win the election in a landslide.”

Yet this is the same Bryan Fischer who managed to get Mitt Romney’s openly gay foreign policy adviser, Richard Grenell, to resign from Romney’s campaign staff; then accused Romney of weakness for caving to a self-described “yokel.”

“If Mitt Romney can be pushed around, intimidated, coerced, co-opted by a conservative radio talk show host in Middle America, then how is he going to stand up to the Chinese? How is he going to stand up to Putin? How is he going to stand up to North Korea if he can be pushed around by a yokel like me? I don’t think Romney is realizing the doubts that this begins to raise about his leadership.”

So, I’m guessing that Bryan Fischer is going to stay home on Election Day this November?

For the foreign crazy, here’s a pair of articles from Foreign Policy’s website about Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and the possibility of an Israeli strike against Iran. It appears that some former Mossad leaders are speaking out against the idea, while Netanyahu’s recent political moves send mixed signals both for and against an attack on Iran.

Lastly, from Slate, some interesting little stories about various Vice-Presidents, from Aaron Burr to Joe Biden.

This is our daily open thread — feel free to discuss one of the above topics, or whatever’s on your mind!

The Watering Hole: December 27th – Headlines

Some headlines for today:

Hope: The tanks are being withdrawn, relief for the people of Homs.

No Surprise: Vladimir Putin rejects scrutiny into last elections 

Kill the Poor: Britain’s poorest hit by Stealth Tax

Critters and such: Confusing Weather Patterns for Britain’s Wildlife

Nature Victimized and her victims: Rising Seal Levels and Erosion leave landmark crumbling.

Romney: Inevitable? Well…

Not Romney: The Molotov Party

Cute Overdose: Red Panda

This is our daily Open Thread, what’s your news?

Picture of The Day – Queue

Women queueing to vote in Egypt

Source: http://www.thestar.com.my

The writing on the wall says “We build Egypt together” They had to act twice, once to get rid of Mubarak and now again, when the military tried to introduce their concept of Democracy. I am afraid their struggle is not over yet. Democracy is hard to come by, let’s not ours go to waste.

The Watering Hole, Thursday, October 27th: …and in other news…

After mulling over topics for today’s post, I decided to just present a mixed bag of ‘things that caught my eye on the internets during the past few days.’ The articles range from serious to tongue-in-cheek to outright ridiculous. The following are from Foreign Policy Magazine online and from Newsmax.

From FP: The title of Ryan Caldwell’s article, “An Islamist, a Liberal, and a Former Regime Loyalist Walk into a Cafe”, snagged my attention. The article gave an interesting presentation of the post-Gaddafi views of three Libyans of different stripes working together. Also, for some reason I found it just wondrous that the interview was done via Skype, from Caldwell’s home in California to a cafe in Benghazi. Plus I learned that ‘celebratory gunfire’ is called rasaas al-farah, which means, literally, “bullets of joy.”

From FP: In “Dumb Power: Republicans Introduce the “What Wouldn’t Jesus Do?” Foreign Policy”, David Rothkopf gives his reaction to the Republican debate on foreign policy.

From Newsmax: In the Newsmax “Breaking News” email, this article was billed as “Thomas Sowell: Herman Cain Is Real Black, Obama Not Typical“. The article includes such tidbits as:

“His prescription for fixing the economy: “I would love to have a constitutional amendment that says politicians are not allowed to intervene in the economy under any circumstances. I think there would be a boom following that.””

From Newsmax: The title of “Hensarling: Supercommittee Need Not Cut Entitlements” sounds hopeful, doesn’t it? Sure…read the whole article: Hensarling, the Republican co-chair of this “Supercommittee”, has some strange ideas. Here’s one:

“I would like to pick up the Internal Revenue Code by its roots and throw it into the nearest trash can. Having said that, realistically, that’s probably a bridge too far for this committee,”


From Newsmax
: And finally, Frank Gaffney being Frank Gaffney:

“Frank Gaffney warned in an exclusive Newsmax.TV interview: “I’m afraid there’s a war coming, a very serious, perhaps cataclysmic regional war,” he said. “It will be presumably over, at least in part, the future existence of the state of Israel. It may involve all of its neighbors, as they have in the past, attacking Israel to try, as they say, to drive the Jews into the sea.””

Enjoy!

This is our Open Thread. I’m sure you can find something to say about any one of the above, so Speak Up!

The Watering Hole: August 27 – A Quick War

Disposition of British and Zanzibar-an Naval Forces in Zanzibar Town Harbor

The Anglo-Zanzibar War fought between the United Kingdom and Zanzibar on 27 August 1896 lasted but 38 minutes. It was the shortest war in recorded history.

Of course, The Gunfight at OK Corral a bit shorter at 30 seconds does not count because it was fought between rival gangs. To be classified a war, a gang fight had to be between nations.

The war came because of the death of Sultan Hamad bin Thuwaini on the 24 of August. During his reign he had co-operated with the British colonial administration in running of his country. Tensions had being growing in the area for some time before this. The British a freedom-loving and compassionate world power were pushing to end the slave trade in Zanzibar dating back to the Omani in the 17th Century. Sultan Hamad bin Thuwainis’s nephew, Khalid bin Bargash, took over on the Sultan’s death. The British favored a cousin, Hamud bin Muhammed, another cousin who supported slavery but to a lesser extent than Bargash. The British delivered an ultimatum ordering Bargash to give up the throne.

The ultimatum ran out at 9.02 am on August 27, at which time the Royal Navy ships opened fire on the palace. The Sultan’s Fleet was sunk; the palace was taking a beating and Bargash was losing a lot of men. He made a tactical retreat to the German embassy where he requested and was granted asylum. The shelling stopped at 9.40 thus ending the war. The death toll stood at about 500.

Now compare that conflict to one in Iraq. You can say that the British knew how to start and finish a war.

This is our Open Thread. You can have at it now.

The Watering Hole: February 1, The March of Millions

Nefertiti

It is still early in the day, but hundreds of thousands Egyptians have already taken to the street. Let us hope the protests will be peaceful. For live updates on the situation, you can go to the following sites:

The BBC

The Guardian

Meet Mohamed El Baradei at The Independent. Remember, this was the man who couldn’t be pressured, nor bribed into supporting Bush’s Iraq war reasoning. And he couldn’t be pressured, nor bribed into saying Iran’s nuclear program was entirely peaceful. I, for my part, would be happy for the Egyptians, if he was too be Mubarak’s successor.

This is, however, our open thread, so don’t hesitate to change the topic!

Across the Pond – Europe’s News

What’s in the news? Egypt again, of course. The situation has not dramatically changed. Mubarak still tries to smother the unrest the only way he knows, by banning the TV and the internet.

Mr. Mubarak, I have news for you: Your people is out in the streets protesting you and not sitting in front of the TV set or computer. There is no way back. There is a plane waiting for you somewhere. Your cronies have already seen the light, many rich families have fled the country and are sipping their tea in Dubai now.

What violence occurs now, is mostly looting and criminally motivated. Prison breaks are rampant and add to the confusion.

Here’s what we find on the news sites  in Europe:

The Independent:

In the pantomime world of Mubarak himself – and of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in Washington – the man who still claims to be president of Egypt swore in the most preposterous choice of vice-president in an attempt to soften the fury of the protesters – Omar Suleiman, Egypt’s chief negotiator with Israel and his senior intelligence officer, a 75-year-old with years of visits to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and four heart attacks to his credit. How this elderly apparatchik might be expected to deal with the anger and joy of liberation of 80 million Egyptians is beyond imagination. When I told the demonstrators on the tank around me the news of Suleiman’s appointment, they burst into laughter. (read more)

The Guardian:

And Arabs from the Mashreq to the Maghreb are watching, egging on those protesters to topple Hosni Mubarak who has ruled Egypt for 30 years, because they know if he goes, all the other old men will follow, those who have smothered their countries with one hand and robbed them blind with the other. Mubarak is the Berlin Wall. “Down, down with Hosni Mubarak,” resonates through the whole region. (read more)

Der Tagesanzeiger

Die Aufstände in Tunesien und Ägypten beseelen den Westen mit neuer Hoffnung auf eine demokratischere Welt. Doch das Beispiel der ehemaligen Sowjetunion zeigt deutlich: Demokratie ist nicht ansteckend. Und selbst wenn es zum Aufstand kommt: Dass dabei ein demokratischer Staat entsteht, ist die Ausnahme und keinesfalls die Regel.

The uprising in Tunisia and Egypt instill new hopes in the west for a more democratic world order. But the developments in the former Soviet Union show clearly: Democracy is not contagious. And even if there is a general uprising: The creation of a democratic state is the exception not the rule.  (full story)

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:

Würde Ägypten in einem revolutionären Strudel versinken, fiele ein wesentlicher Akteur des nahöstlichen Friedensprozesses für geraume Zeit aus. Überdies gibt es in Ägypten im Unterschied zu Tunesien eine starke islamistische Bewegung, die von Mubaraks Regime unterdrückten Muslimbrüder.

If Egypt went down in revolutionary turmoil, an important actor in the Middle East peace process would drop out for a considerable time. Moreover, there is a strong islamist movement in Egypt, the oppressed Muslim Brotherhood. (full story)

Der Spiegel:

In the wake of the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia, the Egyptians are now revolting against the regime of President Hosni Mubarak. The country feels as if it were waking up from a bad dream, but the West stands to lose a reliable partner — and Israel one of its few Arab friends. (read all)

The Jerusalem Post:

The fear and trembling is that what happened in France in 1789, in Russia in 1917 and in Iran in 1979 will repeat itself in Egypt and the Arab world in 2011. After the old was thumped out by the new in those countries, there was a brief moment when democratic forces arose – be it the National Constituent Assembly and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen in France, Alexander Kerensky in Russia, or Shapour Bakhtiar in Iran – only to be swept away by the radicals: Robespierre in Paris, the Bolsheviks in Moscow, Ayatollah Khomeini in Teheran.

In Egypt, too, democratic forces are on the march, but the radical extremists are lurking in the shadows, ready to pounce. (read more)

Enjoy your reading. The situation will further unfold today and, if necessary I’ll update this post accordingly.

Unrest in the Middle East

Picture Source: harleyk.com

We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.

[…]

The leaders of governments with long habits of control need to know: To serve your people you must learn to trust them.

George W. Bush: Second Inaugural Address 2005

Nice.

Now the people in the Maghreb and the Middle East are demanding their liberty. Is George W. Bush’s professed agenda for bringing democracy to the region working out after all?

Tunisia:

For decades, Tunisia has promoted itself as an Arab world success story, a place where the economy is stronger than in neighboring countries, women’s rights are respected, unrest is rare and European tourists can take stress-free vacations at beach resorts.

But the recent protests have exposed a side of Tunisia that the country has long tried to hide: the poverty of the countryside, poor job prospects for youths and seething resentment at the government of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who has ruled Tunisia with an iron fist since 1987. (read more)

Egypt:

Weeks of unrest in Tunisia eventually toppled President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali earlier this month.

Egypt has many of the same social and political problems that brought about the unrest in Tunisia – rising food prices, high unemployment and anger at official corruption. (read more)

Yemen:

“We will not accept anything less than the president leaving,” said independent parliamentarian Ahmed Hashid. “We’ll only be happy when we hear the words ‘I understand you’ from the president,” invoking a statement issued by Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali before he fled the country.

Nearly half of Yemen’s population lives below the poverty line of $2 a day and doesn’t have access to proper sanitation. Less than a tenth of the roads are paved. Tens of thousands have been displaced from their homes by conflict, flooding the cities. (read more)

Algeria:

The riots are widely seen as drawing on deep frustrations with the ruling elite and a lack of political freedom, as well as more immediate concerns about the cost of living, housing, and jobs.

The prices of flour, cooking oil and sugar have doubled in the past few months.
(read more)

Jordan:

Demonstrators in Jordan say they are preparing for more protests. Massive demonstrations inspired by unrest in Tunisia have shaken what historically has been one of the most stable nations in the Middle East and raised questions about the future role of the country’s popular monarch.

Some protesters in last Friday’s demonstration waved pieces of bread. (read more)

Oman, has had some bouts of protestestation, really unusual for the country. The Saudi King has issued a statement today about the situation in Egypt:

“No Arab or Muslim can tolerate any meddling in the security and stability of Arab and Muslim Egypt by those who infiltrated the people in the name of freedom of expression, exploiting it to inject their destructive hatred.”[…]
“As they condemn this, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its people and government declares it stands with all its resources with the government of Egypt and its people,”

The Saudis and most of our other “friends” in the region are none too happy, of course, to see what was basically widespread food revolts turn into a movement for democracy across the region.  The words of G.W. Bush may have inadvertently come true. Not as a result of  his  “Freedom Agenda”, but because his administration’s disastrous economic policies, which have triggered the latest economic crisis, which has triggered the social unrest and which may well trigger the fall of the former President’s Middle East pet despots.

But will they really be replaced by democratic  governments? I have my doubts. The Middle East is not a monolithic cultural area. Yemen and Tunisia are worlds apart. There  are marked differences in the societies of Egypt and Algeria. Just look at the pictures in the news. While in Tunisia you could see many young women joining in the protests, you see mostly men in Egypt and a still more marked difference in Yemen. In the end there may be just more bloodshed and instability in the region and no marked improvement for the people of the countries involved.

Want to read more on this? See:

Rupert Cornwell

Robert Fisk

Soumaya Ghanousshi

The Guardian: Live Updates on Egypt

 

And the killing goes on..

Again, multiple blasts have rocked Baghdad. Latests news claim 127 people have died and 448 men, women and children have been wounded.

The explosions on Tuesday shook houses across the capital.

Official buildings located near the blasts include the interior ministry, the social affairs ministry, a university and the institute of fine arts.

There were civilian and security force personnel casualties, officials said.

Survivor Ahmed Jabbar, emerging from a damaged ministry building, told AP news agency: “What crime have we committed? Children and women were buried under debris.”

If anybody needs a reminder that not all’s well, even if the media have mostly stopped reporting on the violence unless it’s as devastating as the latest attack, here’s icasualties.com.

Open Thread for Friday – The Six Day War (June 5-11, 1967)

If you are seeing a trend here, June may be a month for upheaval in the history of mankind. This trend may settle down later in the month. Here is a short video on the Six Day War in 1967:

This war was and is the crux of the unrest that we are experiencing today in the middle-east. It is especially poignant in light of President Obama’s visit to Arab countries over the past few days. His visit to a Holocaust site today offers a dramatic postscript to his trip.

This is an open thread and you can comment on any subject. Merely keep things decent. Also feel free to comment in threads that open during the day.

Obama’s speech in Cairo, Egypt

President Obama gave a speech today in Cairo, Egypt, outlining his personal commitment to engagement with the Muslim world, based upon mutual interests and mutual respect, and discussed how the United States and Muslim communities around the world can bridge some of the differences that have divided them.  (This according to the White House).

“A New Beginning”

Full text at The Huffington Post

The truth about the run up to the Iraq war must be published – in the UK

This will shed a lot more light on the decision making in the run up to the Iraq war. I can hardly wait to see the documents.

Secret government discussions about the Iraq war are to be disclosed after an information tribunal today ordered the release of cabinet minutes from 2003.

The decision follows a lengthy battle by campaigners, who have argued that the public interest in learning what was said about the planned invasion outweighs the public interest in cabinet discussions being kept secret.

Ministers have strongly opposed the request, arguing that the Freedom of Information Act was never intended to allow for the publication of information of this kind. (read full article)

Nevermind this is starting in the UK, it will make it across the pond in a hurry.

Saudi Arabia’s Patience is Running Out

Well, bully for them.

Saudi Prince Saud Al-Faisal wrote an OpEd piece in today’s Financial Times of London:

Unless the new US administration takes forceful steps to prevent any further suffering and slaughter of Palestinians, the peace process, the US-Saudi relationship and the stability of the region are at risk.

Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Saudi foreign minister, told the UN Security Council that if there was no just settlement, “we will turn our backs on you”. King Abdullah spoke for the Arab and Muslim world when he said at the Arab summit in Kuwait that although the Arab peace initiative was on the table, it would not remain there for long.

I am not against what Al-Faisal is saying; I firmly believe that what happened in Gaza over the last couple of weeks was both an abomination and an affront to human life and dignity.  That said, I am wondering why this OpEd was written during President Obama’s first week in office.   I wonder why Saudi Arabia was silent during the Bush years. It couldn’t be the relationship between the Bushes and the House of Saud, could it?

Read the whole piece. It is quite interesting.

Gaza Update

As expected, Israel is pulling out of Gaza before Obama takes office:

Israel to pull out of Gaza by Obama inauguration

By getting its soldiers out before the Obama inauguration, Israel hopes to pave the way for a smooth beginning with the Obama administration and spare the incoming president the trouble of having to deal with a burning problem in Gaza from his first day, the Israeli officials said.

Translation: the days of the Bush Administration and America turning a blind eye to Palistinian suffering are over.
Continue reading

Vote for Informed Comment!

Go here to vote for Professor Juan Cole of Informed Comment for Best Middle East or Africa Blog in the 2008 Weblog Awards!!

You can vote once every 24 hours. Voting ends tomorrow morning.

Professor Cole is a great resource to learn what is happening from that part of the globe, drawing on his vast knowledge and experience, and offering his excellent insight and perspective. Here are a couple of my recent favorites:

Top Ten Myths about Iraq, 2008

What’s in a name?

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