Li: ritual, propriety, etiquette. Hsiao: love within the family (parents for children and children for parents. Yi: righteousness--the noblest way to act in a situation. Xin: honesty and trustworthiness. Jen: benevolence, humaneness towards others. Chung: loyalty to the state and authority. --Confucius (Kong Fuzi)

All articles appear in reverse chronological order [newest first].

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I believe the past is relevant, sometimes more than others of course. In most cases we are seeing history being repeated, so it is most relevant.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Using Veterans As A Political Diversion:

It is not an either/or choice. We can help our Veterans and still do other things. The proposition that we aren't helping our Veterans because we are spending money somewhere else is meant as a distraction, making a false argument that its neither helping the poor, refugees, immigrants etc., or Veterans, shows a lack of determination to help Veterans, period. All congress has to do to help Veterans is to vote to do so. Bringing up hot button distractions steers the conversation away from Veterans towards those hot button issues, leaving the Veteran issue just setting there. Why would they solve the Veteran or any hot button issue if it serves their re-election interest over and over again.

imageIf you are troubled over the plight of Veterans, let that be the point you make. Argue for Veterans and stay focused on Veteran issues and leave the other complaints and problems to be solved as separate issues.We are capable of dealing with more than one issue at a time as a country and individuals, but when we allow detractors to mingle unrelated issues we loose the ability to solve anything… you think its a coincidence that issues like immigration, abortion, education, and gun control are never solved? No, as long as we are easily distracted the big issues will remain unresolved only to be brought up at the next election and then put back in storage afterwards.

The plight of Veterans has become a political football to be thrown into the air every time someone wants to distract us from addressing a problem... welfare, illegal immigrants, any government expense, but those (Republicants) who are always bringing up Veterans homelessness, etc., fail to do anything about the plight of Veterans!
These Veteran problems, and the VA scandals and problems have existed for decades... stop buying into these diversions and demand results. We can address more than one problem at a time... unless you prefer holding Veteran issues hostage for the sake of ignoring other problems and getting your guy, your party re-elected.


Disabled Veteran DESTROYS Cowards Who Won’t Help Refugees

Tom Cahill | November 19, 2015

“Don’t use me as your fucking excuse when a week ago you were happily voting away my benefits and healthcare.”



see also:
Bills Supporting Veterans Rejected by the GOP/Republicants:
GOP/Republicans “…slashed more than $1.4 billion from President Obama's requested budget for American's Veterans.”
GOP Senator Calls Veteran’s Care ‘Entitlement’ We ‘Can’t Afford’
Ted Cruz Threatens Troops, Veterans, and Their Families
House Dems bolster Obama veto threat
Senate Republicans Betray U.S. Vets By Blocking Veterans Benefits Bill
Tammy Duckworth: GOP exploiting veterans

Friday, November 13, 2015

Why Lincoln, T. Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Goldwater, Reagan and Jesus Christ Couldn't Be Elected In A Republicant Primary:

or, It’s Not Your Daddy’s Republican Party Anymore Baby!


On the Common Good:

EISENHOWER...I do not mean to say that this general government is charged with the duty of redressing or preventing all the wrongs in the world, but I do think that it is charged with the duty of preventing and redressing all wrongs which are wrongs to itself.
--Lincoln, September 17, 1859 Speech at Cincinnati

“…It’s remarkable, then, that most of the Republicans who would be president seem to be lining up for another round of punishment. In particular, they’ve been declaring that the retirement age —
ikewhich has already been pushed up from 65 to 66 and is scheduled to rise to 67 — should go up even further. Thus, Jeb Bush says that the retirement age should be pushed back to “68 or 70”. Scott Walker has echoed that position. Marco Rubio wants both to raise the retirement age and to cut benefits for higher-income seniors. Rand Paul wants to raise the retirement age to 70 and means-test benefits. Ted Cruz wants to revive the Bush privatization plan. For the record, these proposals would be really bad public policy — a harsh blow to Americans in the bottom half of the income distribution, who depend on Social Security, often have jobs that involve manual labor and have not seen a big rise in life expectancy. Meanwhile, the decline of private pensions has left working Americans more reliant on Social Security than ever. And no, Social Security does not face a financial crisis; its long-term funding shortfall could easily be closed with modest increases in revenue…” Paul Krugman: New York Times, 8-17-15  
"Marco Rubio declared: "The 'War On Poverty' has been lost." But that's not true. While poverty is still at epidemic levels, the supplemental poverty rate (the most complete measure of poverty, according to most expertshas fallen significantly in the last few decades, largely thanks to government welfare programs.
lincolnRepublicans often cite this as fact, but as the Washington Post's Mike Konczal points out, this figure, which comes from the libertarian Cato Institute, includes the cost of things like Medicaid, Headstart and community programs like adoption assistance and taxpayer clinics. What is commonly considered "welfare," like food stamps and housing vouchers, only cost us about $212 billion per year. The GOP claims Poverty is largely caused by social and moral decay. In reality, poverty is largely attributed to wage stagnation and other macroeconomic factors. For most of history, wages rose as workers' productivity increased. But that's changed in the last half-century. While worker productivity grew 80 percent between 1973 and 2011, real wages only ticked up 4 percent, according to the Economic Policy Institute."       Huffington Post, 1-27-14

On Labor and Social Programs:

“…but there is one point, with its connections… to which I ask a brief attention. It is the effort to place capital on an equal footing with, if not above, labor in the structure of government. It is assumed that labor is available only in connection with capital; that nobody labors unless somebody else, owning capital, somehow by the use of it induce him to labor. This (is) assumed… …And further, it is assumed that whoever is once a hired laborer is fixed in that condition for life. Now there is no such relation between capital and labor as assumed, nor is there any such thing as a free man being fixed for life in the condition of a hired laborer. Both these assumptions are false, and all inferences from them are groundless…”

On Corporations, Taxes, and Capitalism:

republicants (5)
“…For more than a century, the Roosevelt position prevailed in our country. Corporate money was barred from being used in federal elections. Our national policy was based on a simple proposition: only individuals and groups of individuals were allowed to contribute or spend money to influence federal elections.
Then on January 21, 2010, five (conservative, Republican-appointed) Supreme Court Justices reached into the sky and pulled out something that had not existed for the past 219 years: a constitutional right for corporations to spend money to influence federal elections.
These five Justices, whose decision will be harshly judged by history, threw out more than a century of national policy established by Congress, tossed out decades of Supreme Court precedents and eviscerated a bulwark of anti-corruption laws in the blink of an eye….”      Huffington Post: 2-6-12

republicants (1)“…For decades, Republicans have touted tax cuts as the linchpin of prosperity. And they may be on to something, as long as those tax cuts don’t go to the wrong people. Cutting taxes for “job creators” might seem sensible, but reductions for “job takers” are more powerful. As Zidar reports:
“...the positive relationship between tax cuts and employment growth is largely driven by tax cuts for lower-income groups and [the fact] that the effect of tax cuts for the top 10% on employment growth is small.”
The problem (if you can call it that) is that rich people tend to save a lot. That’s good for some purposes, but not when you’re trying to create jobs. By contrast, less-than-rich people tend to spend most of their income. That makes tax cuts for the poor and middle class more effective, at least over the short term. Or as Zidar says:
90percenttaxrate“Overall, tax cuts for the bottom 90% tend to result in more output, employment, consumption, and investment growth than equivalently sized tax cuts for the top 10% over a business cycle frequency.”

During the administration of Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a 92 percent marginal income tax rate for top earners in the United States remained from the previous administration of Harry S. Truman. At the time, the highest tax bracket was for income over $400,000.Jan 24, 2011

On Immigration:

The anti-amnesty stance the mainstream Republicans have aggressively promoted in the past is slightly muted by the shifting and shuffling of the current Republican candidates.
The presence of Trump’s collect and deport declarations is robbing the Republican party of one of their long-time ‘hot
thanks obamabutton’ issues that they role out every four years for election time and then hide it away until the next election. Since Reagan, they have used the no amnesty argument to stall any progress on immigration reform.
Trump’s bombastic cries for a southern wall has pushed the candidates towards amnesty to try and prevent a mass exodus of what little Hispanic support they have. Their base, however, is still anti-amnesty so any shift is not permanent and is not embraced by their base. “Trump’s Wall’ or should we call it ‘Trump’s Iron Curtain” is going to force the immigration issue, one way or the other. The scary question is what world leader will stand at that wall 50 years from now and mimic Reagan by telling the American President“, Mr. President, tear down this wall”.      

On Common Sense Gun Regulations:

republicants (6)
Why comment? Any attempt to suggest even a discussion results in unwarranted attacks.

“Tucker Carlson and Red State’s Erick Erickson created their little echo-chamber Sunday when they got together on Fox News’ Fox & Friends to talk about the evils of gun control. It took them no time at all to agree that “Obama wants to take away our guns” and “Arm the government instead.”
“I hardly know what to say. Never, in decades uttering this cry, has anyone – Obama included (and he’s been president for nearly seven years) – taken away anybody’s guns..…” 
“…In September 2008, federal agencies employed approximately 120,000 full-time law enforcement officers who were authorized to make arrests and carry firearms in the United States. This was the 
republicants (2)
equivalent of 40 officers per 100,000 residents. The number of federal officers in the United States increased by about 15,000, or 14%, between 2004 and 2008.”
But of course, George W. Bush doesn’t exist unless you’re Donald Trump pointing fingers at Jeb Bush. Otherwise, Republicans are more than happy to leave those eight years murky and blame any leftovers on Barack Obama.   

On Church and State Separation and Religion in Politics:

Religious persecution in England, a result of a combined church-state government, led to our ancestors fleeing Great Britain in the hopes of religious freedom. Some of these people voluntarily sailed to the American Colonies specifically for this purpose. After the American Revolution, the Constitution of United States was specifically amended to ban the establishment of religion by Congress.

At the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther articulated a doctrine of the two kingdoms. According to James Madison, perhaps one of the most important modern proponents of the separation of church and state, Luther's doctrine of the two kingdoms marked the beginning of the modern conception of separation of church and state

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” In English, the exact term is an offshoot of the phrase, "wall of separation between church and state", as written in Thomas Jefferson's letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802. In that letter, referencing the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Jefferson writes:
“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.”

republicants (3)
June 26, 1830 ‘assigned’ members of the United Baptist Church of Christ…In November of that same year the membership drafted and received their Abstract of Principles:
Article…12th We believe that a union of religion and states constitutes the antichristian kingdom.Article…13th We believe that the religion of Jesus Christ ought not, nor cannot be established by the civil law of the Land and further we believe that no Legislative body whatever ought to presume to pass any such law.
Article…14th We believe it to be our duty to support the Government under which we live in all her civil matters.
15th We believe that money was not the means that God devised in infinite wisdom to affect the spread of the Gospel.”     The church at Second Creek Meetinghouse in Lawrence County, Tennessee

Americans United for Separation of Church and State was founded in 1947 by a broad coalition of religious, educational and civic leaders. At that time, proposals were pending in the U.S. Congress to extend government aid to private religious schools. Many Americans opposed this idea, insisting that government support for religious education would violate church-state separation. The decision was made to form a national organization to promote this point of view and defend the separation principle.

Even This Guy Couldn’t Win a Republican Primary:




Unless We Re-Wrote The Bible:


But This Guy Is The Current GOP Hero:


Thursday, November 12, 2015

What if the US had not invaded Iraq in 2003?

imageWhat if the US had not invaded Iraq in 2003? How would things be different in the Middle East today? Was Iraq, in the words of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, the “worst foreign policy blunder” in American history?
In March 2003, when the Bush administration launched its invasion of Iraq, the region, though simmering as ever, looked like this:
  • Libya was stable, ruled by the same strongman for 42 years;
  • in Egypt, Hosni Mubarak had been in power since 1983;
  • Syria had been run by the Assad family since 1971;
  • Saddam Hussein had essentially been in charge of Iraq since 1969, formally becoming president in 1979;
  • the Turks and Kurds had an uneasy but functional ceasefire;
  • and Yemen was quiet enough, other than the terror attack on the USS Cole in 2000.
Relations between the US and most of these nations were so warm that Washington was routinely rendering “terrorists” to their dungeons for some outsourced torture.
Soon after March 2003, when US troops invaded Iraq, neighboring Iran faced two American armies at the peak of their strength.
  • To the east, the US military had effectively destroyed the Taliban and significantly weakened al-Qaeda, both enemies of Iran, but had replaced them as an occupying force.
  • To the west, Iran’s decades-old enemy, Saddam, was gone, but similarly replaced by another massive occupying force.
From this position of weakness, Iran’s leaders, no doubt terrified that the Americans would pour across its borders, sought real diplomatic rapprochement with Washington for the first time since 1979. The
There hadn’t been such an upset in the balance of power in the Middle East since, well, World War I, when Great Britain and France secretly divided up most of the Arab lands that had been under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. Because the national boundaries created then did not respect on-the-ground tribal, political, ethnic and religious realities, they could be said to have set the stage for much that was to come. image
2003, as the Middle East we had come to know began to unravel. Those US troops had rolled into Baghdad only to find themselves standing there, slack-jawed, gazing at the chaos.
What Is This All About Again?
What if the US hadn’t invaded Iraq in 2003? Things would undoubtedly be very different in the Middle East today. America’s war in Afghanistan was unlikely to have been a big enough spark to set off the range of changes Iraq let loose.
  • There were only some 10,000 America soldiers in Afghanistan in 2003 (5,200 in 2002)
  • and there had not been any Abu Ghraib-like indiscriminate torture,
  • no equivalent to the scorched earth policy in the Iraqi city of Fallujah,
  • nothing to spark a trans-border Sunni-Shia-Kurd struggle,
  • no room for Iran to meddle.
  • The Americans were killing Muslims in Afghanistan, but they were not killing Arabs
  • and they were not occupying Arab lands.
imageThe invasion of Iraq, however, did happen. Now, some 12 years later, the most troubling thing about the current war in the Middle East, from an American perspective, is that no one here really knows why the country is still fighting. The commonly stated reason — “defeat ISIS” — is hardly either convincing or self-explanatory. 
The last time Russia and the US both had a powerful presence in the Middle East, the fate of their proxies in the 1973 Yom Kippur War almost brought on a nuclear exchange. No one is predicting a world war or a nuclear war from the mess in Syria. However, like those final days before the Great War, one finds a lot of pieces in play inside a tinderbox.

Now, let the grand tour of the unraveling begin!
The Sick Men of the Middle East: It’s easy enough to hustle through three countries in the region in various states of decay before heading into the heart of the chaos:
  • Libya is a failed state, bleeding mayhem into northern Africa;
  • Egypt failed its Arab Spring test and relies on the United States to support its anti-democratic (as well as anti-Islamic fundamentalist) militarized government;
  • and Yemen is a disastrously failed state, now the scene of proxy war between US-backed Saudi Arabia and Iranian-backed Houthi rebels (with a thriving al-Qaeda outfit and a small but growing arm of the Islamic State [ISIS] thrown into the bargain).
Iraq: Obama is now the fourth American president in a row to have ordered the bombing of Iraq and his successor will almost certainly be the fifth. If ever a post-Vietnam American adventure deserved to inherit the moniker of quagmire, Iraq is it.
And here’s the saddest part of the tale: The invasion in 2003 have yet to reach a natural end point. Your money should be on the Shias, but imagining that there is only one Shia horse to bet on means missing just how broad the field really is. 
  • What passes for a Shia “government” in Baghdad today is a collection of interest groups, each with its own militia.
  • Having replaced the old strongman prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, with a weak one, Haider al-Abadi,
  • and with ISIS chased from the gates of Baghdad,
…each Shia faction is now free to jockey for position. The full impact of the cleaving of Iraq has yet to be felt. At some point expect a civil war inside a civil war.
Iran: If there is any unifying authority left in Iraq, it is Iran.
  • After the initial 2003 blitzkrieg, the Bush administration’s version of neocolonial management in Iraq resulted in the rise of Sunni insurgents,
  • Shia militias and an influx of determined foreign fighters. Tehran rushed into the power vacuum, and in 2011, in an agreement brokered by the departing Bush administration and carried out by President Obama, the Americans ran for the exits. The Iranians stayed.
  • Now, they have entered an odd-couple marriage with the US against what Washington pretends is a common foe — ISIS — but which the Iranians and their allies in Baghdad see as a war against the Sunnis in general.
  • At this point, Washington has all but ceded Iraq to the new Persian Empire; everyone is just waiting for the paperwork to clear.
  • The Iranians continue to meddle in Syria as well, supporting Bashar al-Assad. Under Russian air cover, Iran is increasing its troop presence there, too.
  • According to a recent report, Tehran is sending 2,000 troops to Syria, along with 5,000 Iraqi and Afghan Shia fighters.
Perhaps they’re already calling it “the Surge” in Farsi.
The Kurds: The idea of creating a “Kurdistan” was crossed off the post-World War I “to do” list. …The result: some 20 million angry Kurds scattered across parts of modern Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria.
That American invasion of 2003, however, opened the way for the Kurds to form a virtual independent statelet, a confederacy if you will, even if still confined within Iraq’s borders. At the time, the Kurds were labeled America’s only true friends in Iraq and rewarded with many weapons and much looking the other way, even as Bush administration officials blathered on about the goal of a united Iraq.
In 2014, the Kurds benefited from US power a second time.
  • Desperate for someone to fight ISIS after Iraq’s American-trained army turned tail (and before the Iranians and the Shia militias entered the fight in significant force), the Obama administration once again began sending arms and equipment to the Kurds while flying close air support for their militia, the peshmerga.
  • The Kurds responded by fighting well, at least in what they considered the Kurdish part of Iraq.
  • However, their interest in getting involved in the greater Sunni-Shia civil war was minimal.
  • In a good turn for them, the US military helped Kurdish forces move into northern Syria, right along the Turkish border.
  • While fighting ISIS, the Kurds also began retaking territory they traditionally considered their own. They may yet be the true winners in all this, unless Turkey stands in their way.
Turkey: Relations between the Turks and the Kurds have never been rosy, both inside Turkey and along the Iraqi-Turkish border.
Inside Turkey, the primary Kurdish group calling for an independent state is the Kurdistan Workers party (also known as the PKK).
  • Its first insurgency ran from 1984 until 1999, when the PKK declared a unilateral cease-fire.
  • The armed conflict broke out again in 2004, ending in a ceasefire in 2013, which was, in turn, broken recently.
  • Over the years, the Turkish military also carried out repeated ground incursions and artillery strikes against the PKK inside Iraq.
As for ISIS, the Turks long had a kind of one-way “open-door policy” on their border with Syria, allowing Islamic State fighters and foreign volunteers to transit into that country. ISIS also brokered significant amounts of black market oil in Turkey to fund itself, perhaps with the tacit support, or at least the willful ignorance, of the Turkish authorities. While the Turks claimed to see ISIS as an anti-Assad force, some felt Turkey’s generous stance toward the movement reflected the government’s preference for having anything but an expanded Kurdish presence on its border. In June of this year, Turkish President Recep Erdogan went as far as to say that he would “never allow the establishment of a Kurdish state in northern Syria.”
In light of all that, it’s hardly surprising that early Obama administration efforts to draw Turkey into the fight against ISIS were unsuccessful. Things changed in August 2015, when a supposedly anti-ISIS cooperation deal was reached with Washington. The Turks agreed to allow the Americans to fly strike missions from two air bases in Turkey against ISIS in Syria. However, on the same day that Turkey announced that it would fight the Islamic State in earnest, it also began an air campaign against the PKK.
Russia: That brings us to Vladimir Putin, the Syrian game-changer of the moment. In September, the Russian president sent a small but powerful military force into a neglected airfield in Latakia, Syria. With “fighting ISIS” little more than their cover story, the Russians are now serving as Assad’s air force, as well as his chief weapons supplier and possible source of “volunteer” soldiers.
The thing that matters most, however, is those Russian planes. They have essentially been given a guarantee of immunity to being shot down by the more powerful US Air Force presence in the region (as Washington has nothing to gain and much to worry about when it comes to entering into open conflict with the Russians). That allows them near-impunity to strike when and where they wish in support of whom they wish. It also negates any chance of the US setting up a no-fly zone in parts of Syria.
Meanwhile, the Russian military is growing closer to the Iranians with whom they share common cause in Syria and also the Shia government in Baghdad, which may soon invite them to join the fight there against ISIS. One can almost hear Putin chortling. He may not, in fact, be the most skilled strategist in the world, but he’s certainly the luckiest. When someone hands you the keys, you take the car.
The Players: As in imperial Europe in the period leading up to the First World War, the collapse of an entire order in the Middle East is in process, while forces long held in check are being released. In response, the former superpowers of the Cold War era have once again mobilized, at least modestly. Each has entangling regional relationships that could easily exacerbate the fight:
  • Russia with Syria,
  • the US with Saudi Arabia and Israel, plus NATO obligations to Turkey. (The Russians have already probed Turkish airspace and the Turks recently shot down a drone coyly labeled of “unknown origin.”)
Imagine a scenario that pulls any of those allies deeper into the mess
Or imagine another scenario: with nearly every candidate running for president in the United States growling about the chance to confront Putin, what would happen if the Russians accidentally shot down an American plane? Could Obama resist calls for retaliation?
The above is from a Bill Moyers post of
a post from TomDispatch. I have re-edited
it, but have not rewritten it, to hopefully get
to the point of the article quicker.
To read the complete article, with relevant
links and sources use the links below

from: Moyers and Company: What If They Gave a War and Everyone Came? October 24, 2015 by Peter Van Buren
This post originally appeared at TomDispatch.
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