Tuesday, August 21, 2012

How to Help the Republicans (of Missouri)

[Fortunately this can't happen in cases of "legitimate rape"]

In case you haven't heard, Congressman Todd Akin, the Republican nominee for US Senator from Missouri,  has recently opined in response to a TV reporter's question about abortion in rape cases,
It seems to me, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that's really rare.  If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.

Which of course means that if a rape victim gets pregnant that is proof that it was not "a legitimate rape" and that the slut consented.  Curiously, instead of being grateful for learning about this previously unknown capacity of their bodies, women in Missouri and elsewhere were not amused. 

State and national Republican party leaders, from Romney on down, have called on Akin to withdraw from the Senate race.  Donors who have pledged money to him have withdrawn their pledges of about $5 million.  Even the Missouri Tea Party has called on him to withdraw.

Akin has withdrawn his remarks and apologized.  But apparently on the theory that if a rapist apologizes that he should still go to a jail, Missouri women aren't mollified.

Akin has refused to withdraw from the race.  He went on Sean Hannity's talk show, and was defiant and insists on running anyway in spite of  Hannity, ever the dutiful Republican stooge, insisting he shouldn't.

The sea-change is staggering.  Akin had been polling substantially ahead of incumbent Democratic Senator Claire McCaskell and figured to roll on into the Senate so long as he didn't do anything stupid.  Which he did.

Which creates a wonderful situation.  All that now stands between the Democrats and winning the Missouri Senate seat is Todd Akin's refusal to withdraw.  If the Democrats can't win against a candidate who is an apologist for rape and who has been disowned by his own party, by the Tea Party, by Sean Hannity/Fox, and whose money has been withdrawn, they don't deserve to win.

I think we all should take this opportunity to help out.  Send an email to encourage Todd Akin to stay in the race.  Write to him and speak of not letting down the people of Missouri who voted for him.  Mention that the voters, not the media, should choose the nominee.  Assure him of your support.  Avoid all sarcasm.  Do not parody right-wing phrases like "elite liberal media".  Just say "media".  Keep a straight face.


Some people have assumed I am joking.  I am not.  If we can keep this fool in the race we can pick up a US Senate seat just like that.  Do it.  Write and encourage him to stay in the race.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Time Lapse of the Earth from the International Space Station

[click four outward-pointing arrows for full screen]

Earth | Time Lapse View from Space, Fly Over | NASA, ISS from Michael K├Ânig on Vimeo.

Why does Obama's foreign policy mirror the Arab League's?

[President Obama's prescription for Middle East negotiations just happens to be the same as King Abdullah's]

One indication of who the President's constituency for the policy he announced in his May 21, 2001 speech in the White House might be is that it is identical with the so-called Saudi peace plan of 2002 which was endorsed by the Arab League Summit of 2002 in Beirut and again by the Arab League Summit of 2007 in Riyadh.    [See yesterday's blog here.]

These are the "fair-minded neutral parties" who have twice invaded Israel, in 1947 and 1967, with the intention to destroy her.  The President has picked a side and it is not Israel's. 

Having adopted the Arab League's plan as his own, it is hard to describe the situation as other than that the President has sided with the Arabs against Israel.  That is a reversal of  American Middle East policy for the past 60 years, a reversal of the policy of every President since FDR.

Calling this President a radical in domestic policy is wildly, unforgiveably, wrong, but calling him a radical for reversing a long-standing pillar of American foreign policy without debate, while denying he is doing it, is radical - and devious.


Friday, August 10, 2012

The President's Remarks of May 21, 2011 and why I am not voting for him

[a one-term President?]

This is an excerpt from a longer speech by Barack Obama.  Source is the White House website, whitehouse.gov.  Emphases are of course mine.
We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their full potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.

The full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces should be coordinated with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign, non-militarized state.  And the duration of this transition period must be agreed, and the effectiveness of security arrangements must be demonstrated.

These principles provide a foundation for negotiations.  Palestinians should know the territorial outlines of their state; Israelis should know that their basic security concerns will be met.  I’m aware that these steps alone will not resolve the conflict, because two wrenching and emotional issues will remain:  the future of Jerusalem, and the fate of Palestinian refugees. 

Now, let me say this:  Recognizing that negotiations need to begin with the issues of territory and security does not mean that it will be easy to come back to the table.  In particular, the recent announcement of an agreement between Fatah and Hamas raises profound and legitimate questions for Israel. 
How can one negotiate with a party that has shown itself unwilling to recognize your right to exist?  And in the weeks and months to come, Palestinian leaders will have to provide a credible answer to that question. 
The United States and our Quartet partners and the Arab states will need to continue every effort to get beyond the current impasse.  

[End of quote]

Note that most of what this President said were generalities but not proposals for any action.  

The concrete proposals he made for doing something were 
a) a return to the 1967 lines, 
b) phased withdrawal of Israeli forces, and 
c) that negotiations be under the aegis of the Quartet (the US, the EU, Russia and the UN) and the Arab states.

One indication of who the President's constituency for this policy might be is that it is identical with the so-called Saudi peace plan of 2002 which was endorsed by the Arab League Summit of 2002 and again by the Arab League Summit of 2007.    These are the "fair-minded neutral parties" who have twice invaded Israel, in 1947 and 1967, with the intention to destroy her.  The President has picked a side and it is not Israel's. 

Having adopted the Arab League's plan as his Middle East policy, it is hard to describe the situation as other than that the President has sided with the Arabs against Israel.  That is a reversal of the American Middle East policy for the past 65 years, a reversal of the policy of every President since FDR.

Calling this President a radical in domestic policy is wildly, unforgiveably, wrong, but calling him a radical for reversing a long-standing pillar of American foreign policy without debate, without even admitting he is doing it, is radical - and devious.

Two questions about a return to the 1967 lines - 

Why?  The Green Line, the demarcation line of the West Bank is not and never has been a border. It is merely the armistice line between the Royal Jordanian Army and Israeli forces in 1948.   The Palestinians weren't even involved.   The line was erased when Israel defeated the Arab invasion of 1967.  Why should that be the border?

More than 350,000 Israelis live in the West Bank.  How would driving them from their homes not be ethnic cleansing?  Wouldn't it be just as good a solution to drive the West Bank Palestinians out of their homes instead?  If expelling the West Bank Palestinians  would be ethnic cleansing, why wouldn't expelling West Bank Israelis also be?  Are Palestinians born with more rights than Israelis?

A “contiguous” Palestinian state - 

The two parts of Palestinian controlled territory, Gaza and the West Bank, have Israel between them.  Any corridor of land that connected them would necessarily divide Israel into two non-contiguous parts.   It would appear that this President believes that a future Palestinian state has a right to be contiguous, but Israel does not.

Presumably this is of a piece with the President’s notion that expelling Palestinians or anyone else from their homes en masse is ethnic cleansing, but expelling 350,000 Israelis from their homes somehow is not.

"Phased Withdrawal" -

Gaza - 

There has been a phased withdrawal of Israeli forces ever since the Oslo Accords in 1993.  Israel completely withdrew its forces from Gaza in 2005.  Since then Gaza has been seized by Hamas, a fundamentalist Muslim group listed as a terrorist organization by both the United States and the European Union.  So far from getting peace and security in return for its withdrawal, Israel has been bombarded by tens of thousands of rockets launched from Gaza and aimed at civilians in its southern towns. 

To use this President's own language, "the effectiveness of security arrangements" has already been demonstrated and found wanting.  Gaza had been under Hamas rule for six years when the President made these remarks.  

No one living in southern Israel can see the President's policies as based on facts.  Clearly the President’s intention is political, not rational.  What is the constituency for whom the President’s remarks are intended?  It is certainly not Israel nor its friends.  

West Bank - 
There have long-since been phased Israeli withdrawals from large areas of the West Bank as well, particularly from heavily populated areas since the 1993 Oslo Accords.  This resulted in repeated suicide bombings in Israeli market places, on buses, at crowded restaurants, and even at family gatherings in which dozens of people were murdered.   

Having thus demonstrated the "effectiveness of security arrangements", the Palestinians and their friends abroad complained bitterly when Israel built a security barrier to funnel Palestinians seeking to enter Israeli-populated areas through checkpoints.   Since the completion of the security barrier, suicide bombings in Israel have almost stopped.  That is, "effectiveness of security arrangements has been demonstrated", not by cooperation with the Palestinians, but in spite of them. 

Palestinian intentions to destroy Israel - 

The President aptly phrased the issue as a question.  And supplied no answer.  He left it to the Palestinians to answer.  So far the answer from Hamas has been mass rallies in Gaza in which thousands of Palestinians shouted in unison, "Death to the Jews!" 

The answer from the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank has been to honor and give subsidies to the families of suicide bombers who murdered Israelis.  The town square in the city of Jenin has been named for a suicide bomber who murdered six Israelis. 

Finally, our Quartet Partners - 

One of our Quartet Partners, Russia, is currently defending the wanton massacres of the Syrian population by the regime of the dictator Bashar Al-Assad.  Moscow has stubbornly cast UN veto after UN veto to defend its client regime.  How much morality and justice is to be expected from Moscow is self-evident from that fact alone.   

A second member of the Justice League Four is another figure out of a comic book, the United Nations.  The General Assembly has over the years passed literally dozens of resolutions condemning Israel for everything and anything and for nothing.  During the same period, persistent Muslim regimes' support for terrorist attacks on Israel, Spain, Britain, Australia, Russia, the United States, the Philippines, Kenya, Tanzania, Argentina, and many other countries have gone literally without remark at the UN.   

The United Nations itself maintains the UNRRA, an organization devoted to keeping hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in refugee camps for decades.  The UNRRA has stubbornly resisted all attempts to resettle the now fourth-generation "refugees" of a war that ended in 1948. 

The United Nations sponsored the scandalous Durban I and Durban II conferences which dropped the gossamer-thin pretense that the endless campaign against Israel is based on anything but hatred of Jews.  Their Jew-hatred became so explicit and reached such extremes that the UN official who organized the conferences was obliged to disown them.  The United States, Canada, and all the Western European countries walked out in protest.  Neither Russia nor China did. 

That is the UN and Russia.  It is not clear on what basis this President considers the Arab governments to be legitimate arbiters of peace between Israel and her enemies.  They ARE her enemies.  And that is where this President got his policies.  

Every word and every fact I have brought up here was well-known to President Obama as he delivered his remarks in the White House briefing room on May 21, 2011.  There is no reason to believe he has altered any of his positions. 

No one who loves peace or who loves justice should vote for his re-election.  I won't and you shouldn't.


Thursday, August 09, 2012

More Zionist Plots

[Egyptian fntelligence forces in action (don't tell me you're so old you know who these bozos are)]

According to an article in today's Wall Street Journal the President of Egypt, Mohammed Morsi, fired his Chief of Intelligence, Murad Muwafi, today.   It seems that "Islamic militants", newspaperese for Hamas terrorists, murdered 16 Egyptian policemen in Sinai near Egypt's border with Israel while the Egyptian border police did nothing to prevent it or even to defend themselves because no one had told them the attack was coming  

The IDF, the Israel Defense Force, had warned the Egyptian intelligence ministry  well in advance that the attack was coming. Intelligence Chief Murad Muwafi decided to do nothing about the warning both because it came from Israel and because he was sure that "no Muslim would harm a fellow Muslim during Ramadan."   In spite of his title and office, apparently Muwafi was not strong on intelligence.

Which creates a lovely situation in Egypt.  President Morsi is the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood which is devoted to worsening relations with Israel as much as they can short of abrogating the Camp David peace treaty.  Abrogating the treaty would cost Egypt its annual $1.2 billion aid package from the US so Morsi's policy has been to come as close to breaching the treaty as possible short of the US government cutting off aid.

Now President Morsi is in the position of having had 16 of his policemen massacred by their fellow Muslims in spite of the best efforts of the Zionist enemy to save them.  And massacred because of the incompetence of his government.  And the particular form of the incompetence was in distrusting the Jews and trusting Muslims instead.  

And it is all public knowledge because of the internet and cellphone connectivity among the Egyptian public which is what put Morsi into power in the first place.  It is graceless to gloat over Morsi's discomfiture, but that is just the sort of schmuck I am.

I think the whole episode has to have shown President Morsi, with life and death concreteness, the value of the peace treaty with Israel.  The education of President Morsi may have come at the cost of 16 Egyptian lives, but it bodes well for the prospects of continued peace between Israel and Egypt under the new regime.


Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Harry Reid is a dirty liar

[Harry Reid caught fibbing about Giapetto's tax returns]
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is a dirty liar.  The head of the Republican National Committee, Rience Priebus, publicly called him that.   And for good reason.  Reid falsely claimed on the floor of the Senate that Mitt Romney has not paid taxes in 10 years.  Prominent Republican Senator Lindsey Graham more temperately said that Reid "was making things up" and that he had "lied" in claiming Romney had paid no taxes in 10 years.  

Since Harry Reid is a major figure in the Democratic Party this is a huge opportunity for the Republicans to embarrass the Democrats.  They can easily prove that Reid is a liar by releasing Mitt Romney's tax returns for the past 10 years.

Go ahead, Republicans, take Reid down.  Release Romney's tax returns.


Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Letter to Larry

[Ceratopsians grazing in front of Royal Tyrrell Museum, Drumheller, Alberta.  They are scary but harmless, but do NOT get between a mother and her calf or she will show you what those horns are for.]

Butte to Prince Rupert and then to Newfoundland and the Maritimes is a loooooong way.  7K miles may be underestimating if you do any exploring along the way.  Speaking of provisional speculations insensibly morphing into plans, setting out to see all of Canada in a summer can very well suck you into seeing how far you can drive every day.  I guarantee you the inside of your car is nowhere near as interesting or beautiful as Canada, which, to some tastes, is the most beautiful country on the planet.

I remember driving the backroads of northern Alberta (south of the permafrost) and coming up with a hallucinatory theory that heaven is not in the sky but in certain locations on earth.  They aren't publicized and one can only find them by stumbling on them inadvertently.  If they became well-known they would be swarmed with tourists, motels, souvenir shops, gas stations, crowds, and fast food.  In short they would become hell, which is also here on earth.  Some parts of heaven on earth are protected by their elevation or remoteness or the policies of the US and Canadian national park systems.  Other parts are protected in part by their remoteness and by the fact that most people take the main roads and by the fact that most people can't see what's in front of them, or it just doesn't appeal to them.  Heaven may be an individual phenomenon.  I understand neither theology nor psychology, but like philistines everywhere, I know what I like.  

Plumas County on the east side of the Sierra crest is such a place.  So is northern Alberta.  It is big family wheat farms where the farmer, the family, and one or two farmhands work the place themselves.  Here in California agriculture is conducted by corporations controlled by much bigger corporations like Safeway and Lucky.  The fields are worked by peons so alienated from their work and their situations that they are kept literally illegal.  The difference between that and prosperous Alberta farm families working their own land is staggering.  

You have long since heard my rant about the ignored-but-obvious connection between the numbers of illegals and the US policy of penalizing the illegals rather than the employers.  Canada penalizes employers who hire illegals so there are no jobs for illegals and therefore no illegals.  There are plenty of legals, usually educated Indians, Chinese, and Pakistanis in Vancouver, just no illegals.

Among the vast expanses of wheat are a patchwork of non-arable land left as large stands of poplar and pine, dotted with ponds.  These are home to the occasional moose or bear or skunk which wanders onto the road.  The cars are few and the drivers respectful so the local tetrapods wander as they will.  The towns are small - a diner, a dying motel, in the larger ones a gas station, and a few stores run by people clearly doing it as a part-time job because they can't stand the thought of moving to Calgary.  Occasionally there is a small lumber mill or a horse farm with pintos.

If you are in a hurry to get somewhere, you will miss this.  Worse, you might see it and not get it.  Slow down and wander.  

The bad thing to avoid, (I assume you know this but just in case, I will warn you anyway) is Canada Immigration.  They are unmitigated assholes, AND they have real authority over your life.  They were, with few exceptions, the only genuinely nasty people I met in Canada.  If you tell them you want to "see Canada" or "wander" or whatever, they will shut you down and give you an impossibly short visa.  I suggest strongly that you have a printed-out itinerary and dates when you plan to be in each place.  

Google Prince Rupert so you can specify what tourist attractions you plan to see there.  Google Prince George and do the same, and so on, all the way across the country, assigning dates to each place, and including the tourist attractions on your itinerary.  It makes no difference whatever whether you actually do any of the things you said you would do or even go to the places you said you would go.  But the bastards (many of whom are thoroughly unpleasant young women) will gleefully cut you off at the knees if you don't specify all that crap for them.  Generalities will NOT work.  You must have a detailed list and dates.  Invent a cousin in Halifax.  Visiting a former professor is definitely the right thing to tell them about.

I hardly need warn you, you must have NO DOPE in your car when crossing the border in either direction.  As I understand it, if they find marijuana they will detain you for several hours and then turn you back and never let you into Canada again as long as you live, which is far worse than a minor bust would be.   The search is more thorough than going into the Soviet Union used to be.  Israel puts some serious searching on your luggage too but they aren't looking for recreational drugs.  The US border patrol does a thorough search as well.  I suppose this is all since they caught some assholes trying to cross into the US from Canada for the purpose of blowing up something in New York a few years ago.

[Rita and I have an enormous bulldog named Oliver who is sleeping on the floor as I write.  As bulldogs will, he just cut an enormous fart so I have had to pause and open the windows.]

Anyway, consider going slower and covering less ground.  I don't know if you have any interest in paleontology, but even if you don't, the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, about 80 miles northeast of Calgary, is by a large margin bigger, better, and more interesting than whatever is the second best dinosaur and giant-extinct-mammal museum in the world.  Definitely worth a day of your life.