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7 years Ago

What does “close Guantánamo” mean?

Published by marco on

Guantánamo is a war crime. It’s illegal by both U.S. and international law. And now, in the article Amid Hunger Strike, Obama Renews Push to Close Cuba Prison (New York Times), we hear that President Obama wants to try closing it again. Does he mean it this time? But what does he mean by close it? And why now? Should we believe his high-minded though glib reasons? Or is cynicism once again more justified than hope?

Why is he trying again? Why now?

As even the article states,

“Mr. Obama made his remarks... [More]”

Ron Paul interviewed by Tavis Smiley and Cornel West

Published by marco on

Ron Paul appeared on a recent Smiley and West show. He’s a bit slippery. He generally argues for absolute liberty and that the government’s role is to ensure liberty—in other words, the goal of the strict Libertarian that he always has been. If nothing else, he’s consistent. But he very quickly gets into trouble with issues that don’t work so well with a black-and-white political philosophy—in other words, almost any issue of consequence.

For example, the conversation turns to Hate-Crime... [More]

The DOJ Memo on why killing is not always prohibited

Published by marco on

NBC has released a Department of Justice (DOJ) memo titled DOJ White Paper: Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a U.S. Citizen Who Is a Senior Operational Leader of Al-Qa’ida or An Associated Force by DOJ (MSNBC). As you read through the document (or just the citations below), if you find yourself being swayed by the DOJ’s seductive logic, it is a useful exercise to turn the parties around: instead of the US claiming the rights detailed in this document, imagine that it were Israel or Russia or... [More]

Side-by-side in Gaza redux

Published by marco on

In 2009, Side-by-side in Gaza noted the disparity in the damage caused by Palestinian ordnance versus that caused by Israeli. As revealed in pictures from Israel—Gaza conflict (Big Picture Blog), the stark difference remains in 2012. Is it clear that, while the Gazans are capable of producing some weaponry despite the strict blockades (and allegedly with Iran and Arab countries in its corner), its firepower pales in comparison to that of the Israelis (with the U.S. in its corner). Having the right friends makes... [More]

Money well spent

Published by marco on

The U.S. elections have come and gone. People in other parts of the world—I can attest to Switzerland—were at times exasperated with the amount of coverage in their home countries. That coverage, it seems, pales in comparison to the deluge of information to which Americans themselves were subjected for at least a solid year. And some candidates even started campaigning two years out. The intensity of media saturation was reported to have been prodigious.

Unsurprisingly, many are just glad... [More]

I’m not a Californian, but I voted

Published by marco on

A friend of mine in California asked for my input on the ballot propositions in California in November 2012. Here’s my quick impression of these issues. YMMV.

I used Ballotpedia (Ballotpedia) as my reference. They have good sections showing who’s for/against and why. It’s also a good way to test the wind by seeing which way Democrats or Republicans are voting. Also interesting to see which and how many papers endorsed one way or the other.

Prop 30—Jerry Brown’s Tax Increase (revenues for general fund... [More]

Final notes on the election

Published by marco on

Equal rights or saving the children. You can’t have both.

The following quote floated through the Internets, bubbling along on the social-network streams. It was written in support of voting for the candidate that supports gay rights, for one who supports equal rights for all Americans.

“I wish my moderate Republican friends would simply be honest. They all say they’re voting for Romney because of his economic policies (tenuous and ill-formed as they are), and that they disagree with him on... [More]”
Doug Wright

The Foreign-policy Debate

Published by marco on

The third debate was eons ago, the election is tomorrow and, if we’re very lucky, we’ll never have to hear about Mitt Romney again. Sure, we’ll still be stuck with Obama but, as the Economist so lovingly put it, better the devil you know.

The best way to listen to the foreign-policy debate was the Expanding the Debate Special on Foreign Policy (Democracy Now!), which featured two of the other candidates—Jill Stein of the Green Party and Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party—who offered much smarter and less... [More]

The Economist holds its snobby and deluded nose

Published by marco on

The title of the essay Which one? America could do better than Barack Obama; sadly, Mitt Romney does not fit the bill (Economist) sums up its contents, to some degree. The conclusion to which they came is justified given some of their arguments. But some of their other arguments are just not supported by any tangible evidence. That is, the Economist shows in a short and eminently readable essay why you can’t really trust them for cogent analysis. Not only does their ideology gets in the way, but they... [More]

Must be nice growing up female in France

Published by marco on

 Republican Rape Definition ChartAlong the left-hand side is a handy chart published with the article The Republican Rape Advisory Chart (AlterNet). It features some of the most stupefying and misogynistic things that politicians have said about rape in the last year or so. We will return to it soon, but let it provide contrast to the French social policies detailed in the article French teens to get the Pill for free (France 24).

The main point is as follows:

“French teenagers aged 15 to 18 will have their contraceptive pills reimbursed 100... [More]”

American Justice: Wild-west, Medieval and other

Published by marco on

Wild West

The facts of the case, as described in the article Unarmed and Gunned Down by Homeowner in His ‘Castle’ by Jack Healy (NY Times) are distilled below:

“Mr. Fredenberg […] strode up the driveway […] to confront Brice Harper, a 24-year-old romantically involved with Mr. Fredenberg’s young wife. […] he walked through Mr. Harper’s open garage door […] Mr. Harper aimed a gun at the unarmed Mr. Fredenberg, fired and struck him three times. Mr. Fredenberg crumpled to the garage floor, a few feet from Mr.... [More]”

Drone Attacks

Published by marco on

A recent email exchanged that I partially documented in Benghazi: a storm in a teacup continued and the suggestion that I was providing information that “did not make sense” (read as “did not fit into preconceived notions”) and was “not very patriotic.” Again, I tried to respond with more background, though with waning hope.

Email Exchange

Not very patriotic? Me? Good. Patriotism is for those unwilling to think. I think I made my case very strongly that your laser-like focus on Benghazi is... [More]

Benghazi: a storm in a teacup

Published by marco on

The following are a series of responses I wrote to a friend in response to accusations that the liberal media was deliberately ignoring the story of what had happened in Benghazi. The implication was that the Obama administration had committed a severe transgression in its handling of the whole affair and was trying to cover it up.

Response #1

I did no special research in order to compose my initial reply, instead relying simply on that which I had picked up in various places.

Benghazi is a... [More]

Surreal summary of the third debate (Ze Frank)

Published by marco on

Ze Frank sums up the third debate in five minutes. A taste:

“And of course our military’s in trouble. What’s scarier? A gun with a sword on it? Or a horse with a gun with a sword on it? You know why they phased it out right? Because the guys with the gun with the sword on it, wanted a gun on the end of the sword. And then those guys wanted a sword on the end of the gun. Turtles all the way down … and that’s how you get a budget deficit.”

The Final Debate Finally by Ze Frank (A Show)

Who do you side with?

Published by marco on

 2012 Presidential Candidates

The 2012 Presidential Candidate Match (I Side With) is quite nicely done and should be very helpful for most. It takes 5-10 minutes at the most. I recommend choosing “other stance” on almost every question instead of just “yes” or “no” because those choices are much more refined and likely to accurately reflect your opinion. Don’t forget to adjust the more/less important bar on the left to add weight to your more important issues—or to remove weight from those that you either don’t know or care about.
... [More]

Romney vs. Obama: Debate Analysis

Published by marco on

The first Obama/Romney debate happened what must seem like an eternity ago in this social-media–mad world, but the pace here at earthli News is a bit slower and more contemplative. Well, slower anyway. This article encompasses reactions and articles related to both debates.

On Romney’s positions

I read some articles on the first debate. The most staid and steady of these was the article The US presidential debates’ illusion of political choice by Glenn Greenwald (Guardian), which pointed out all of the issues that would not... [More]

Biden vs. Ryan: Debate Analysis

Published by marco on

I only watched a brief recap (shown below) but I feel like I got the gist of this debate.

VP Debateness by ZeFrank (A Show)

So the buzz is that Biden was a big, fat meanie and not worthy of his office and poor, little, beleaguered, doe-eyed Paul Ryan could barely fluster out his ideas in the face of that mighty onslaught. That’s what I heard from others who neither watched the debate nor have access to anything other than the mainstream American media.

For example, the Washington Post was typically rabidly right-wing in the... [More]

Stephen Colbert on the 2012 election

Published by marco on

David Gregory—who is pretty much the epitome of a sellout newsman (not a journalist, mind you)—interviewed Stephen Colbert. He was out of character, for once, and was quite eloquent in answering Gregory’s question as to what Colbert thinks of the two candidates:

“I’m not Ralph Nader; I [do] think there is a difference [between the two candidates/parties]. I don’t know what the difference is, though. I think that there is the possibility that Obama would be, say, more aggressive…a more... [More]”
PRESS Pass: Stephan Colbert by Stephen Colbert on October 14th, 2012 (MSNBC)

Election 2012: How is it even close?

Published by marco on

I wrote recently about my pet theory that Mitt Romney is a deliberate Republican decoy—a red herring—to encourage an otherwise lackluster public to vote for Obama, who is himself a nearly perfect Republican candidate. See Are we not paranoid enough? if you’re interested in hearing more about that argument.

The long-ish article This Presidential Race Should Never Have Been This Close by Matt Taibbi (Rolling Stone) also discusses the seemingly improbably inept Romney and wonders how broken the U.S. political system has to... [More]

Are we not paranoid enough?

Published by marco on

In recent weeks, the Mitt Romney campaign has had a string of “how could he have said that?” moments where you really have to question his—and his team’s—political savvy. Some comments are so over-the-top nefarious that I’ve started to wonder whether he’s not doing it on purpose, Whether the Republicans’ hatred of Obama is all a sham. Whether their relentless push behind the clearly deeply flawed and vacuous Romney isn’t just a way of goading otherwise unmotivated voters to get behind the... [More]

Inanity Squared

Published by marco on

“We Americans have always had a special relationship with…the future”
2012 Republican presidential nomination acceptance speech by Mitt Romney
“Yes, yes, yes, we Americans, uniquely among Earth’s people…move forward in time”

That’s my favorite quote from that show, but the whole thing was a tour de force, a satirical analytic onslaught by the Daily Show news team. If you’re a fan of the form—or if you’d like a more honest lens (comedic though it may be, it’s more honesty than you’ll get from Wolf Blitzer) through which to view the presidential campaign (the... [More]

Republicans, Abortion and Cognitive Dissonance

Published by marco on

Samantha Bee of the Daily Show recently logged an excellent two-minute segment on abortion, a woman’s right to choose and the Republican convention. The whole segment’s quite good but you can start at 01:15 if you’re in a hurry, where Jon Stewart introduces the “human life amendment” plank of the Republican platform that would essentially outlaw abortion as murder by applying the 14th Amendment to the unborn. Romney doesn’t agree with this…and Republicans are fine with it. Why? Because they... [More]

8 years Ago

America’s obsession with Iran (and war in general)

Published by marco on

The article Israel: No Iranian Nuclear Weapons Program; Barak: Any decision to Strike Iran “Far off.” by Juan Cole (Informed Comment) published a good summary of the current situation vis á vis Iran’s nuclear program. In an effort to provide a public service announcement for right-wing wackos whose lust for war can never be satiated, it is reproduced below.

“Israeli intelligence agencies have worked up an intelligence assessment that Iran has not yet decided whether to begin a military program to construct a nuclear warhead.... [More]”

Elizabeth Warren’s Achilles’s Heel

Published by marco on

I’ve discussed Ron Paul’s platform before. In his case, the situation is reversed: foreign policy is the only plank in his platform that sticks out from an otherwise run-of-the-mill Libertarian platform. Elizabeth Warren, on the other hand, seems to be so level-headed about so many things. She’s so down-to-earth and seems to understand the causes—rather than symptoms—of America’s problems.

And then you read the National Security / Foreign Policy Issues by Elizabeth Warren page on her web site and you’re... [More]

The Republican Debates

Published by marco on

I haven’t watched any of the debates in anything approaching their entirety but as a frequent viewer of both The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, I have seen clips from many of them. Though the words falling from the candidates’ mouths are often reprehensible, pandering and self-serving, even they aren’t the primary cause of the feeling of horror these debates engender. No, that feeling is primarily caused by the hooting, hollering and booing that comes from the audience and not the noises... [More]

SOTU 2012

Published by marco on

These are some thoughts I had as a read through the State of the Union 2012 – Transcript by Barack Obama (C-Span) (PDF).

The Synopsis[1]

  1. The U.S. military is the awesome.
  2. Soldiers are better than civilians.
  3. American businesses have been wayward, but should be forgiven and paid to come home.
  4. Americans are wicked smart and more enterprising than anyone else on the planet, but they have been chronically undereducated and under-trained
  5. College costs too much; college tuition loans will kill us all
  6. We need more fossil... [More]

“Minimally acceptable”

Published by marco on

The article Obama signs defense bill, pledges to maintain legal rights of U.S. citizens by David Nakamura (Washington Post) tells of how the NDAA was signed into law by what appeared to be a reluctant President Obama,

“Obama initially had threatened to veto the legislation. In a signing statement released by the White House on Saturday, Obama said he still does not agree with everything contained in the legislation. But with military funding due to expire Monday, Obama said he signed the bill after Congress made last-minute... [More]”

A (very) partial defense of Ron Paul

Published by marco on

The Republican field has to be very thin—and very unbalanced—indeed for Ron Paul to rear out of the crowd of candidates as the voice of sanity. The man is possessed of a strong Libertarian bent that he uses like the proverbial hammer: all he sees are nails. Gay marriage? Let the states decide; let people have the freedom to be as bigoted as they want to be. Can’t afford insurance? Die in the street and try again in the next life (if you happen to be Hindu and believe that sort of thing,... [More]

Fevered Policy Dreams (Newt Gingrich edition)

Published by marco on

 When asked about new, proposed sanctions on Iran that would likely stop their export of 4 million barrels of oil per day—primarily to Europe—Newt Gingrich delivered an answer from his fantasy world (found in Gingrich Urges War with Iran and Skyrocketing Oil Prices by Juan Cole (Informed Comment):

“[…] the fact is we ought to have a massive all-sources energy program in the United States designed to, once again, create a surplus of energy here, so we could say to the Europeans pretty cheerfully, that all the various... [More]”

Why do they occupy Wall Street?

Published by marco on

Attn: language prudes.

There is a lot of swearing for emphasis and for style. Especially what I will only in this warning refer to as the F-word.[1] Read no further if you’re too sensitive to stand it without writing me an email about what a shame it is that even otherwise eloquent people can no longer communicate without cursing. I submit that this implies a lack on your part in understanding that cursing is an essential part of eloquence and that anyone attempting to write while explicitly... [More]