Talk of War Blowing through the Korean Peninsula Yet Again

In a move that surprises absolutely no one who watches Korean politics with even mild interest, the two again are at each others throats.

In a statement that is even less of a surprise than the two Koreas being at each others throats, The North Koreans claim they have nullified non-aggression agreements with the South Koreans.

In another statement equally as expected given the nature of the relationship between these two nations, A general from the North is claiming that it has nuclear ICBM’s ready to launch.

A counter claim by the South has made the very forseeable claim that if the North uses it’s nukes that Kim Jong-Un would be wiped from the face of the earth.

Now if we could only see how this thing will end.

There are always problems between these two nations, but with the new Kim on the throne in the north, there is a new unpredictability about this once very unsurprising dance these two nations dance with one another.

The experts say that the north doesn’t have the ICBM’s to do what they claim they can do. If they are right then this dance stays predictable, at least it’s ending.  Which is that the North and South, for all there bluff and bluster will really not do much of anything and will in the end maybe fight a small skirmish or two and be done with it.

They have threatened the U.S. before and have done it again, this time threatening to blast America and it’s followers into a “sea of fire.”

Nice way to start the weekend, don’t ya think?

Thoughts For A Saturday Night

Pic of the day: The Vision After the Sermon (Jacob wrestling with the Angel) by Paul Gauguin

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There is no me. I do not exist … There used to be a me, but I had it surgically removed.

Peter Sellers

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Thoughts for a Saturday night:

Some people right now are prepping for a big Sunday, but not me. It’s the first football Sunday of the season. It is a big deal, but not so much for me personally. Not because I’m not a football fan, I am. My New York Giants have already played and in fact lost. Dammit. Not gonna miss the start of the season, the real start of the season, the first football Sunday of the year, but having my team not play on it makes it seem less important.

Never understood why they play games during the middle of the week. Thursday? Wednesday? Doesn’t make sense to me. Sunday (and thursdays on Thanksgiving ONLY) is the way it should be. But that’s just an old man who remembers the game being like that when I was a kid talking out loud. Why would you WANT to play games during the middle of the week, when the bulk of your fans have just finished a long day of work? Most people don’t work on Sunday. Makes Sunday a day that makes sense for ALL the games to be played.

Just saying…

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At this point I am looking at stories about Greece and Spain. About the economically troubled nation of Greece leaving the Eurozone. Fun fun fun. The Swedish finance minister is the one predicting this, and he is saying that Greece may not stay in the Eurozone, may in fact leave within a year, possibly 6 months. He says Spain is also still in trouble, and may need more help in the form of a bailout.

The conditions for such a bailout would likely be so bad that the medicine that is a bailout would likely be more painful than the fiscal problems they are suffering from. The rollbacks of government services that Spain will be asked to swallow, the strength of the austerity measures that will occur in Spain should they get that bailout will be such as to actually do more damage long term to the Spanish economy than no bailout.

Because the bailout will come from the IMF, who are freidmanites at their core, are more concerned with making the rich richer and the poor… well, fuck’em. The unemployment rate in Spain, should they accept a bailout will in all likelihood increase both short and long term. That despite the fact that the unemployment rate there is insanely high.

Spain’s unemployment rate sits at 24.7% right now.

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I believe that the abortion debate is framed improperly. It isn’t about rape or incest or the health of the mother or when it is right and when it isn’t right. It is about choice. It isn’t my choice. It isn’t yours, unless you are the one contemplating the procedure. Those who are trying to stop women from having that choice, are trying to take freedom directly from women for religious/moral grounds. Beware that type of thought. It is immoral in that it makes choice, which god gave us to test us (to use the religious argument.) seemingly irrelevant.

If the Almighty did not believe in choice, Adam never would have had one, and there would have been no apple, and no Eve.

If the Almighty did not believe in choice, Christ would never have had to die on the cross.

The Almighty is firm in his belief of choice. Are you?

For better or worse we have choice in most every way most every day in most every thing. Allow others the right to make their own decisions, or you negate their right to act like adults in an adult society, to make life altering decisions and living with the consequences of them.

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That’s it from here, America. G’night.

A Small Revolt

Pic of the day:  La Grenouillere, by Claude Monet

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Many clever men like you have trusted to civilization. Many clever Babylonians, many clever Egyptians, many clever men at the end of Rome. Can you tell me, in a world that is flagrant with the failures of civilisation, what there is particularly immortal about yours?

G.K. Chesterton, The Napolean of Notting Hill

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There is pain amongst the people.  Not enough of them have work.  They don’t see the people in power doing the things they should be doing. Too many see the rich get richer and they get nothing, and they are angered. They are asked to foot the bill for someone else’s mistake. Not enough of them have the lives they want, need, feel they deserve.

People looked around and saw that they did not like what they saw and decided to change things.  The pain was there because of misjudgments made by them and others, and there was not a damned thing they could do about it.  Governments tried to fix things, and failed because their vision was too narrow, and did not encompass all who lived within their borders.  Businesses tried to fix things, and failed because their vision was too weak, and only encompassed their own personal profits.  Individuals tried to fix things and failed, because their hands were too weak, no one person unaided can lift a world alone.

As a consequence, the nations of France, Greece and to a lesser extent Germany, are sending a clear message to their leaders.  Your austerity measures have failed us.  We don’t need you anymore.  No more austerity.

It may not work, the new governments may not be any better than the one that they replaced because of all the lack in their lives.  But they have to try, the alternative is unacceptable.

In France, Sarkozy and his center-right/ right wing government were deemed insufficient, and a socialist has been placed in power. There hasn’t been a socialist in power in France in nearly 2 decades, and it is due to the political failings of the right that the left now gets their chance to do better.

In Greece,  support is weak on both sides of the political divide. PASOK (socialists) lost many seats, but their rivals, New Democracy (conservatives) didn’t win enough votes to get a majority.  The one thing they had in common?  They both backed austerity.  Now they are both left to try and form a coalition government, and Greece is left to try and make deals with neo-nazis, who are growing strong in a weakened nation and the radical left which has it seems taken power from both PASOK and New Democracy.

In Germany it is too early to tell what will happen, but the spin doctors are already hard at work trying to drum up support for the faltering coalition, in particular her friends in the fringe  F.D.P. (libertarians) that helps to keep Angela Merkel in power.

It’s going to be a bumpy future, at least short term for Europe, and the ripples will be felt worldwide.

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I don’t know that the events of today are anything more than the frustration of a continent boiling over.  But I don’t know that it isn’t something more either.  Whether the changes people want to see in the world can come about due to picking our leaders when there are people as powerful as those we choose to lead us who don’t answer to us will become self evident over time.  I hope it works, but I’m not sure that it will, that it can.

So long as there is power out there that equals government, there will be those who will control government and be outside our control. Whether governments work with our best interests at heart, or are even capable of such is up to those who have power that equals or surpasses our capacity to control government activities.

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That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

Death And Taxes

Pic of the day:  Saint Jerome by Leonardo Da Vinci

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Strange—is it not?—that of the myriads who
Before us passed the door of Darkness through,
Not one returns to tell us of the road
Which to discover we must travel too.

Omar Khayyam, Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

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Sudan dropped bombs on South Sudanese troops who were withdrawing from the field, and also bombed a market in the capital of Unity state, Bentiu.  South Sudan has said that the bombing of the market is tantamount to a declaration of war.  Sudan has denied that they bombed the area.  The U.N. has condemned the bombing of the Market, and has called on Sudan to cease all hostilities against it’s neighbor to the south.

No one else has warplanes in the area, so Sudan’s claim that they had nothing to do with the bombing is at once bewilderingly stupid and laughable.  There has been fighting along the border for some time now, so it’s kinda funny to think that they would try to lie about this.  It’s not like warplanes would have just magically appeared in the sky above Bentiu to bomb that market.  It’s not like there’s been hostilities between South Sudan and Uganda or the Congo or some other country in the area.

Mind you the South is not sinless here.  They invaded the North and took an oilfield, and only left after criticism by the U.N., and near complete destruction of the oilfield, according to a worker from there.  The South has been an aggressor on a number of occasions.  But that does not mean that the North can indiscriminately bomb civilians in the South.  But this is war and is unfortunately to be expected.

I said it yesterday, and I’ll say it again today.  It’ll get worse before it gets better.  And with South Sudan having no air defenses or air force to speak of, they are at the mercy of the Sudanese.  Bloody mess, that’s what it’s gonna end up being before it all shakes out.

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In other news, Social Security’s long range financial health is beginning to worsen.  In large part due to the fact that SocSec taxes are as low as they are.  Low taxes are not always the greatest thing in the world, and here is your proof.  If we increase the amount of money we pay all of us into the fund, then we all can benefit, and we will all be better off.

If things continue to go as they are going right now, the fund will run out of money in 2033.  Which is nice seeing how I will become eligible to go on SocSec in 2033.  Good to know that all the money I have thrown into the fund will have done exactly nothing for me should things continue the way they are going now.

How to fix this? Increase SocSec taxes.  Make everyone pay, including millionaires and billionaires.  Hell even thousandaires. The FICA tax is a regressive tax, and that needs to stop.  Making it either a flat tax or a progressive tax with no ceiling is one very powerful way to inject life into the system.

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That’s about it from here, America.  G’night.

More Random Thoughts

Oil is at the highest prices they have been at in a long time.  Brent crude is up over $121 a barrel.  Why?  Iran.  They have cut oil supplies, having decided to cut off both French and British companies.  They also happen to be in the middle of a major dispute with Israel.  And Iran has warships in the Mediterranean off the coast of Syria. Close enough to help Assad in Syria if they like, or reach Israel should they feel the need.

Prices will continue to go up so long as they continue to act as provocatively as they are.  Do we get to see the additional craziness of Iran shelling the citizens of Syria that are fighting against Assad, the man who is killing his own people for demanding anything even vaguely democratic?

Or shelling Israeli targets?  One wonders.

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Pic of the day: The Revelation of St John: 4. The Four Riders of the Apocalypse, By Albrecht Durer

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There is a law that is under consideration in Virginia that says embryos will have the same rights as “other persons”. Really?  They are people, with the same rights and responsibilities as “other persons?”

So, when will these lazy fucking Virginia embryos start pulling their own damned weight and get fucking jobs?

Fucking hippie embryo fucks.

To be serious tho, these god-damned self important right wing ass clowns with delusions of gender superiority are a pain in all moral Americans asses.  Abortion has been around for thousands of years. You cannot legislate it away, or make people more moral with legislation.  That has been tried.  It has unquestionably failed.  This will simply push abortion underground.  You will kill young women for mistakes.  You will kill your own daughters trying to save their children.

You cannot stop people from doing what they want to do.  Morality cannot be legislated, you cannot make godless people fear God.  No legislation can make any of that happen.  None.

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Morality is the theory that every human act must be either right or wrong, and that 99% of them are wrong.

H.L. Mencken

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Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson both belong in the Baseball hall of fame.  They were both among the best players to ever play their sport.  For that alone they belong in.  How can any sport that doesn’t have it’s best individual performer at the games most basic level in it’s “Hall of Fame” be meaningful in any way whatsoever?  Hitting is the most basic thing a player does in baseball, that and pitching.  If Rose isn’t in the Hall, the hall itself, with it’s exclusion of him, becomes a meaningless institution.

And if Rose belongs in, how can you keep Joe Jackson out?  He did the same thing, gambled on his team, and he unlike Rose admitted it.  He said he did it, and was ashamed of it by all accounts.  Should we not let this great player who was taken advantage of by gamblers much to his detriment into Baseballs hallowed halls where he belongs for his other feats on the diamond? How do you keep a man with a career average of .356, who struck out only 158 times in over 1300 career games out of the hall of fame?

Even if it was so, these guys are too good to be out of the hall of fame.

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I copied Jackson’s style because I thought he was the greatest hitter I had ever seen, the greatest natural hitter I ever saw. He’s the guy who made me a hitter.

Babe Ruth

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That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

There is Bad News, and There is Good News

The Bad news is that Pete Hoekstra is running for Senate.  The Good News?  Pete Hoekstra is running for Senate. The Hoax is a complete nut.  Has been for years.  Doesn’t mean he won’t get votes.  There are enough lunatics in America to make anyone who rants like a schizoid ass clown at least 40% of the vote.

Why do I say he’s a complete nut?  He’s the guy who, despite being ranking member on the select committee on Intelligence in 2006, said there were WMD found in Iraq, despite the fact that the Pentagon said that he was in fact incorrect.  I think The Pentagon would know a little more than the Hoax about that, they having tens of thousands of boots on the ground over there at the time.

He also had a website out at one point that contained detailed information that could have helped create a nuclear weapon.

I thought we the American people had come across a tremendous stroke of luck when he retired from the house of representatives at the end of the last congress.  I was wrong.

Dammit.

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The more we learn about the world, and the deeper our learning, the more conscious, specific, and articulate will be our knowledge of what we do not know, our knowledge of our ignorance. For this, indeed, is the main source of our ignorance — the fact that our knowledge can be only finite, while our ignorance must necessarily be infinite.

Karl Popper, Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge

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The bad news is that observers in Syria are seemingly not doing their Job.  The good news is that we know they are not doing it, and with any luck we can do something about it.

The head observer there in the city of Homs, who says nothing is happened there (despite 39 dead in that city the day he said that) is a Sudanese general  by the name of Mohammad Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi.  This man was the head of, and from what I can tell the founder of the Janjaweed, the strong arm Sudanese nationalists who were at least in part responsible for the massive human rights violation that was the massive violence in Darfur.  The Janjaweed would wait until the PDF(Popular Defense Forces, a government militia) disarmed citizens, and then walk into a village, and attack and pillage.

Thousands died.

Just the guy you want to watch and report on human rights violations.  Things in Syria are a hairy mess to begin with, adding al-Dabi to the equation is just pours salt into the wound that is the government of Syria oppressing it’s people.

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Viddy of the day:  Wikipedia leaves GoDaddy over Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)

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The bad news is that Sopa is still out there.  The good news is that opposition is strong.  For those who don’t know what SOPA is, shame on you.  The government is trying to steal your freedom in the name of protecting corporations from piracy. It is meant to stop piracy but it will, because of the vagueness of the language in the bill, restrict non-infringing content, without due process.

And the pirates will still be able to operate.

How?  The bill does not block numeric IP addresses, which means if a site you like, for whatever reason, like flickr for example, gets the shaft, and you know it’s IP Address, you can get around any government block and view content their without any issues.  And reddit users are putting together an emergency IP address list, just in case the government gets stupid and passes this bullshit.

There are a great many more problems with this legislation.  A great many.  More on this as time and space permits.

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Pic of the day:  Truth by Jules Joseph Lefebvre

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That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

President Obama, P.M. Netanyahu, And The Two State Solution

I was trolling the web, looking for news of some import to write about. found plenty of it.

Saw the headlines about Benjamin Netanyahu saying in a speech before congress that going back to the indefensible pre-1967 borders was  unacceptable.  My initial thought about this was something along these lines:

“I wonder what Moshe Dayan thought about how indefensible those borders were, when he pounded the Jordanians, the Syrians, the Egyptians, and armies that were nearly 3 times the size of his, manpower wise, and whipped their asses, took the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza strip, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights.”

But then again, that land was hard fought for, and it would be damnably hard to give it up now, especially if you are as security conscious as the Israelis are.  Especially seeing as how the Syrians and the Israelis are technically still at war with each other, never having signed a peace treaty formally ending hostilities between the two nations.  And if you have ever read up on the Six days war, or even know just the basic history of the region, you’d know why the Israelis are so protective of those borders.

So I don’t blame P.M. Netanyahu for countering assertions that the borders in any potential “two-state solution” should go back to pre-six day war borders.

But let’s get one thing clear.  The President’s words on this subject were NOT that the new Israeli border be those of Israel prior to the six days war, no matter what the Republicans or P.M. Netanyahu think.

Let us, rather than allow hyperbole to rule the day, using opinion of what was supposedly said, use the President’s words directly:

And it was my reference to the 1967 lines — with mutually agreed swaps — that received the lion’s share of the attention, including just now.  And since my position has been misrepresented several times, let me reaffirm what “1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps” means.

By definition, it means that the parties themselves -– Israelis and Palestinians -– will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967.  (Applause.)  That’s what mutually agreed-upon swaps means.  It is a well-known formula to all who have worked on this issue for a generation.  It allows the parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the last 44 years.  (Applause.)  It allows the parties themselves to take account of those changes, including the new demographic realities on the ground, and the needs of both sides.  The ultimate goal is two states for two people:  Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people — (applause) — and the State of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people — each state in joined self-determination, mutual recognition, and peace.  (Applause.)

To read the speech in question, click here. To read the original speech, referenced in the above text, click here.

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To pretend that the Egyptian forces massed on our frontiers were in a position to threaten the existence of Israel constitutes an insult not only to the intelligence of anyone capable of analyzing this sort of situation, but above all an insult to the Zahal [Israeli army].

General Matityahu Peled

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Viddy of the day:  President Obama at 2011 AIPAC Policy Conference

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What that means, if you need any clarification, is that the basis of any 2 state agreement would exist using negotiation.  That’s all.  Very basic stuff.  No specific mention of pre six days war borders, not even a vague allusion to it.

And let’s think for a minute about where a potential Palestinian state would actually exist.

Somewhere within the land that the Israelis took in 1967.  There would, by necessity, HAVE to be some land concession, some portion of that land given up by the Israelis to the Palestinians that they initially took in 1967.  That simply cannot be avoided. The President, and most people, including P.M. Netanyahu, want a Two State solution.

No one expects, and no one has asked, that the Israelis give to the Palestinians ALL the land from the Six days war, and anyone who did would be a laughingstock.  Luckily, no one has done that.

No one.

You’d never know that if you listened to the news, though.

Another case of the news being slanted against not the left, not any political faction, or any individual, but against reality, choosing to create a story rather than report the truth.

Sad but true.

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That’s it from here, America.  G’night.