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Member since: Sat May 15, 2010, 04:48 PM
Number of posts: 5,876

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Libertarians are SO confused!

LOL! A friend of mine told me about an exchange with a friend of his (whom I don't know) who identifies himself as a Libertarian. His Libertarian friend has apparently decided that Iceland, with its very strong economic recovery now in place, would be the perfect place to live. Apparently, he is unfamiliar with precisely how Iceland accomplished its impressive feat. Hint: it started with a government take-over of Iceland's banks and re-regulation of its financial sector, which had been deregulated in 2000 -- yet these are precisely the kinds of government interventions that Libertarians are always railing against. This reinforces my belief that most Americans who call themselves "Libertarians" have a rather confused understanding of what Libertarian political philosophy actually entails!
Posted by markpkessinger | Fri Oct 3, 2014, 08:11 PM (49 replies)

NY Times Editorial (and my comment): "The Fundmantal Horror of ISIS"

Here is a comment I just posted to the editorial in The New York Times titled, "The Fundamental Horror of ISIS" (an excerpt of the editorial follows after my comment below):

Mark Kessinger

From the article: "But no Islamist group before, no other offshoot of Al Qaeda or Hamas or Hezbollah, has so nakedly adopted a cult of sadism, not only as a weapon in its stated goal of establishing an Islamic caliphate but as the very reason for its existence." The beheadings, ex-post facto crucifixions, rapes, etc. seem to us to be -- and no doubt are -- heinous, depraved acts of inhumanity. But to discuss the "fundamental horror of ISIS" while at the same time ignoring the very real, fundamental horror of U.S. policy in the Middle East since at least the 1950s is to perpetuate the very collective self-delusion among Americans that has lain at the heart of a disastrous U.S. foreign policy for over a half century, and which drives us in the present moment to respond to yet another crisis in the Middle East by doing still more of what has never worked for us in that region (and is no more likely to work this time around).0

As brutal and barbaric as beheadings certainly are, do we really imagine that the deaths of innocent civilians that inevitably result from U.S. drone strikes are any less brutal and barbaric? To a farmer whose family is counted among the "collateral damage" from such a strike, that is a distinction without a difference.

And while we clutch our collective pearls over ISIS' beheadings, should we not remind ourselves that is the government of Saudi Arabia, our staunch (so we're told) ally, that has popularized the practice in the first place?

Here is an excerpt of the editorial:

The Fundamental Horror of ISIS


The mind rebels at the reports of cruelty by the Islamic State, the beheadings, crucifixions, tortures, rapes and slaughter of captives, children, women, Christians, Shiites. The evidence is there on YouTube, in gruesome images and the cries of witnesses too numerous to deny or doubt. Even in a part of the world where terror has been perversely enshrined as a legitimate weapon by Islamist zealots, the Islamic State — led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi — stands alone in its deliberate, systematic and public savagery.

The grievances, resentments and frustrations that drive young Muslims to violence and extremism have been analyzed and debated, and the Islamic State, also called ISIS, is a link in a long chain of Arab and Muslim terrorist organizations. But no Islamist group before, no other offshoot of Al Qaeda or Hamas or Hezbollah, has so nakedly adopted a cult of sadism, not only as a weapon in its stated goal of establishing an Islamic caliphate but as the very reason for its existence.

Even Al Qaeda, an extremist movement responsible for the horrors of 9/11 and innumerable other acts of terror, was compelled to disown the Islamic State’s brand of savagery. Yet far from repelling potential recruits, the recorded beheadings and crucifixions have attracted hundreds of willing followers — yes, also from Europe and America. The masked man or men who beheaded the American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff apparently came from Britain, yet seemed to revel in taking a knife to the throats of innocent men.

To claim that this savagery is rooted in a certain people or a certain religion is to forget that the great atrocities of our age have been perpetrated on different continents by people professing different ideologies and different religions. Before the Islamic State there was Rwanda, and the Lord’s Resistance Army and the killing fields of Cambodia, and before that, in Europe, the Holocaust.

< . . . . >

Posted by markpkessinger | Fri Oct 3, 2014, 04:02 AM (6 replies)


At the risk of being labeled a paranoid conspiracy theory monger, I will offer a few thoughts about the current round of "Oh-my-God-the-terra'ists-are-closing-in-on-Peoria" war drum beating that our august leaders -- of BOTH parties -- are engaging in.

First, a little refresher in recent history. Does anybody remember what the big news was last summer? You know, when the original neoconservative cheerleading squad for invading Iraq, along with a coterie of war profitee... -- er, sorry, defense contractors -- was suddenly demanding that the President intervene in Syria's civil war and to overthrow Assad, and the President appeared ready to go along with the idea? Of course, after some pretty intense public outcry, the President decided to consult Congress (even though he continued to assert he didn't legally need to do so). And then, as quickly as the whole 'crisis' arose, it simply disappeared. Congress never did actually vote on it. We did send some arms to the anti-Assad forces, but otherwise the matter was quietly dropped -- or so we thought.

Fast forward to this summer, and suddenly there's this group that had barely been mentioned -- ISIS, ISIL or just IS. They kill a couple of journalists and a British aid worker in a manner that offends our delicate imperialist sensibilities (after all, our murder-by-drone policy is infinitely more civilized, don't you think?), and suddenly it is imperative that we start a round of airstrikes in Iraq in order to save a subculture of Iraq's Kurds known as Yazidis to escape their mountaintop holdout, where they will surely die if we don't begin bombing -- oh, I'm sorry, I meant striking from the air (really not much more than a feather-dusting when you think about it).

Suddenly, lo and behold, our "no-boots-on-the-ground-limited-airstrikes-on-ISIS-in-Iraq has morphed into a "years-long" (as one top general has said) war against ISIS and Khorasan in where else but -- you guessed it -- SYRIA! Oh, but wait . . . . Korha-who? Suddenly, there's a new terra'ist group none of us has ever heard of before that we're also at war against. Oh, and they had an IMMINENT plan to attack the U.S.! So why have we never heard of this group that was surely about to hit Peoria next week? Because, the administration tells us, we didn't want to tip them off that we were hot on their trail. (Funny how that never stopped anybody from talkinb about Al Qaeda.) Oh, and Khorasan has an added benefit: if the administration can claim that they pose an 'imminent threat,' then it buys the President some time before he needs to seek authorization from Congress. That is, of course, if such authorization were needed, which, of course, it isn't, because by some novel legal contortions, the President is authorized to act under the original Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) passed 13 years ago in the wake of 9-11, which authorized the then-President to go after those responsible for 9-11.

So, let me see if I've got this straight: the President is authorized under a 13-year-old AUMF intended to permit the then-President to go after those responsible for 9-11 to intervene in a civil war of a country that had nothing to do with that event, and against a group that did not then exist. But hey, just in case that doesn't pan out legally, we have this handy-dandy imminent threat from still ANOTHER group that didn't exist 13 years ago. WHAT A COUNTRY!

Sorry, folks, but I ain't buyin'! We have been 'neo-CONNED' yet again. And most of us, it seems,are the neocons' willing dupes.

Polls are showing that something like 94% of Americans support airstrikes in Syria, thus once again proving the truth of that famous quote penned by H.L. Mencken: "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public."
Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Sep 24, 2014, 01:05 PM (65 replies)

NY Times Editorial - Wrong Turn on Syria: No Convincing Plan

Wrong Turn on Syria: No Convincing Plan

President Obama has put America at the center of a widening war by expanding into Syria airstrikes against the Islamic State, the Sunni extremist group known as ISIS and ISIL. He has done this without allowing the public debate that needs to take place before this nation enters another costly and potentially lengthy conflict in the Middle East.

< . . . .>

The military action early Tuesday was quite different from what Mr. Obama explained in a televised speech on Sept. 10. For months the administration has focused on the ISIS threat, yet these strikes also targeted Khorasan, a group the government says is linked to Al Qaeda and engaged in “active plotting that posed an imminent threat to the United States and potentially our allies.”

It is puzzling that Mr. Obama would address the nation on a terrorist threat and not mention the group that officials now say poses an imminent threat to the United States, which ISIS does not. They say they kept details about Khorasan secret so the group would not know it was being tracked. But past threats, including Osama bin Laden, were discussed openly even as they were tracked.

These incongruities — two enemies now, instead of one — call into question whatever sense of purpose and planning the administration hopes to project. Mr. Obama has said airstrikes alone are not enough, and native ground troops in both Iraq and Syria will be relied on after the bombings. But it will be months before Americans can turn the mainstream opposition into a fighting force; in Iraq, after six weeks of American airstrikes, Iraqi Army troops have scarcely budged ISIS from its strongholds.

< . . . . >

Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Sep 24, 2014, 06:37 AM (12 replies)

A familiar name came up on "The Roosevelts"

Just finished watching the final episode of "The Roosevelts" (i watched all seven parts online). My ears perked up at the mention of FDR's cousin, Laura Delano, who was with him in the last days of his life at Warm Springs, Georgia, and to whom fell the task of providing the details of his death to Mrs. Roosevelt when she arrived there (including the fact that also with him had been her long-time nemesis, Lucy Rutherford Mercer).

In the 1990s, I met, on many occasions, Laura Delano, who by then was known as Laura Delano Adams Eastman (her last marriage, prior to her coming out as a lesbian, had been to the heir of the Eastman-Kodak fortune). She was a regular in attendance, along with her partner, Ms. Bunny Diehl (whom she would introduce as, "my partner, the formerly straight Miss Bunny Diehl") at the Sunday services of the Episcopal Chaplaincy of Fire Island Pines, over which my friend, Fr. Craig Bustrin, presided and for which I often played piano. She was a wonderful woman, who spoke in the same patrician accent as her famous cousin and carried herself with all of the dignity and refinement as one would expect. And yet, there was not the slightest hint of snobbery about her. She was very warm, VERY funny and never took herself too seriously!
Posted by markpkessinger | Fri Sep 19, 2014, 09:48 PM (23 replies)

My favorite mental image from "The Roosevelts" so far

Teddy Roosevelt, ever the effete, upper class Easterner even as he undertook his adventures in the West and beyond, riding a round-up with cowboys in the Badlands of South Dakota, exhorting a fellow cowboy to, "Hasten forward quickly there!" I guess that was the equivalent among the upper class gentry of the day to, "Giddy up!" or "move your ass!."
Posted by markpkessinger | Thu Sep 18, 2014, 08:40 AM (6 replies)

And the cynics tell us bipartisanship is dead - HAH!

As long as we're debating how to conduct endless war for endless profit, we'll get all the bipartisanship a defense contractor could ever want!

House Grudgingly Approves Arms for Syrian Rebels
WASHINGTON — Sep 17, 2014, 8:56 PM ET

(AP) The Republican-controlled House voted grudgingly Wednesday to give the administration authority to train and arm Syrian rebels as President Barack Obama emphasized anew that American forces "do not and will not have a combat mission" in the struggle against Islamic State militants in either Iraq or Syria.

The 273-156 vote crossed party lines to an unusual degree in a Congress marked by near-ceaseless partisanship. Top Republican and Democratic leaders backed Obama's plan seven weeks before midterm elections, while dozens of rank-and-file lawmakers in both parties opposed it.

The provision was added to spending legislation that will ensure the federal government operates normally after the Sept. 30 end of the budget year. Final approval is expected in the Senate on Thursday.

Even supporters of the military plan found little to trumpet. "This is the best of a long list of bad options," said Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va.

< . . . . >
Posted by markpkessinger | Thu Sep 18, 2014, 08:02 AM (20 replies)

The Right's Idiocracy Strikes Again

I was just reading articles on CNN and USA Today about the President's speech about the Ebola crisis. The comments are chock full of statements like, "Since WHEN is a virus in AFRICA our problem?!" I gather they would prefer we wait until it hits Iowa or something. American idiocy at its finest!
Posted by markpkessinger | Tue Sep 16, 2014, 08:19 PM (3 replies)

NYT: U.S. General to Seek Combat Troops if Airstrikes Can’t Stop ISIS

I guess this is what "no boots on the ground" looks like.

U.S. General to Seek Combat Troops if Airstrikes Can’t Stop ISIS


WASHINGTON — Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress on Tuesday that he would recommend deploying United States combat forces against Islamic extremists in specific operations if the current strategy of airstrikes was not successful, offering a more expansive view of the American role in the ground war than that of President Obama.

In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, he said that while he was confident in the ability of the coalition of American, European and Middle Eastern governments to stop the Islamic State, he could not completely close the door to eventually asking Mr. Obama to commit ground troops to fight the group, known as ISIS or ISIL.

“My view at this point is that this coalition is the appropriate way forward. I believe that will prove true,” he said. “But if it fails to be true, and if there are threats to the United States, then I of course would go back to the president and make a recommendation that may include the use of U.S. military ground forces.”

Any future commitment of American personnel on the ground could put Mr. Obama in a difficult position, as he has repeatedly insisted that no American troops would engage in the battlefield, and Gen. Dempsey sought to explain the apparent contradiction.

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Posted by markpkessinger | Tue Sep 16, 2014, 03:07 PM (1 replies)

"Never forget" indeed!

Posted by markpkessinger | Fri Sep 12, 2014, 05:13 PM (1 replies)
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