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It never happens to the bad guys

Posted by Charles II on October 24, 2014

Kevin Drum has cancer. He has hopes for a remission, but it’s a long and painful way back. Here’s prayers for a guy for whom my greatest criticism is that he is too nice.

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Daily Kos gets worse and worse

Posted by Charles II on October 21, 2014

So, Der Spiegel reports that the Russians definitely did not shoot down the Malaysian airliner MH-17. In the meantime, Kiev’s army has been defeated in battle, the Russians are dictating how Ukraine is going to pay to heat their homes, and there’s a danger of the Poroshenko government getting overthrown.

None of this can be mentioned on the Daily Kos without getting called a “Kremlin troll.” By a guy who has joined Daily Kos today, and has four comments of five total on my thread.

Usually a third of the comments are excellent, or at least sincere. But in this thread, there were three comments I was glad to receive–not because they were supportive, but because they brought me new information. That’s approximately 5% of the comments that were not outright manure.

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Yes, The Air War Is Working

Posted by Phoenix Woman on October 16, 2014

Various entities with various interests keep insisting that the US can’t just help take out ISIS with air power alone and with Kurdish boots being the only ones on the ground in many areas.

These interests are being slowly proved wrong:

The aerial bombardment has centered around the Syrian town of Kobani, where besieged Kurdish fighters have desperately battled off a lightning Islamic State (IS) siege to capture the city.

According to Reuters, the US military conducted 21 and 18 strikes on militant targets in or near the town in the two 24-hour periods since Monday. In contrast, the previous week saw the area targeted roughly half a dozen times a day.

The intensified campaign, which has become increasingly effective due to intelligence and on-the-ground coordination with Kurdish fighters, has resulted in at least 32 IS militants being killed in that 48-hour period.

It has also paid dividends for Kurdish fighters who were at risk of being engulfed by the IS advance within “a matter of days.”

On Wednesday, a black IS flag raised on a hill overlooking Kobani was torn down after militants were targeted by coalition air strikes.

The airstrikes, in addition to making ISIS use up all those tanks and other munitions it captured from the fleeing Iraqi army in June (instead of saving them up for use in toppling Assad as ISIS’ Saudi and other backers desired) are also cutting into the revenue ISIS has been getting from the oil towns it nabbed back in June:

…the Paris-based International Energy Agency said in a report that the airstrikes have put a significant dent in the Islamic State’s ability to produce and smuggle oil – a major source of finance for the militants, according to The Independent.

Back in 1999, Bill Clinton and NATO used air power in conjunction with boots on the ground to force out Slobodan Milosevic and end the genocide in Kosovo. Fifteen years later, air power under the direction of Kurdish boots on the ground is turning the tide in Syria and Iraq.

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Joni Ernst Abused Her Power To Screw Veterans

Posted by Phoenix Woman on October 14, 2014

Here’s something interesting about the Republican candidate for US Senator in Iowa that you probably won’t find in the pages of the Des Moines Register, unless it’s buried deep next to the want ads:

In the rural Iowa town of Red Oak, the names and addresses of the 29 people who signed a petition to remove a candidate from the ballot in a local election were read on the radio repeatedly in 2004. The speaker’s voice dripped with outrage that citizens would try to keep someone from running for office.

“I thought they were going to burn someone’s house down,” Barry Loving, a Red Oak resident who heard the broadcasts, told The Daily Beast.

Shades of Radio Rwanda.

The candidate those 29 people wanted off the ballot was Joni Ernst, who is currently the Republican nominee for Senate in Iowa and running as the epitome of “Iowa nice”. Her race against Democrat Bruce Braley is currently one of the closest races in the country and could determine control of the Senate. And while Ernst paints herself as the candidate of small town values and attacks her opponent for his supposed lack of civility, she comes from a political background that’s more “House of Cards” than “Little House on the Prairie.”

One would think that such a bit of news would have been uncovered by Iowa’s best-known newspaper, the Des Moines Register. But no, one has to turn to a nationally-focused publication, the Daily Beast, to hear about this vindictive abuse of power on Joni Ernst’s part.

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This is too obvious to work

Posted by Charles II on October 2, 2014

Via Ritholtz, an article by Sarah Kliff at Vox:

Since 2007, a program in St. Louis has offered teenagers free access to all types of birth control. They can choose pills, intra-uterine devices or any other FDA-approved contraceptive.

These St. Louis teens have had markedly lower pregnancy, abortion and birth rates than the rest of the country, new research published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows. This is what their pregnancy rates look like, compared to the rest of the United States.

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Ben Golnik, The Artful Dodger

Posted by Phoenix Woman on October 1, 2014

Words fail me:

We were patiently researching independent expediture mailing by Republican operative Ben Golnik’s MN Jobs Coalition and/or its political fund companion, the Minn Jobs Coalition Legislative Fund, when an email came in earlier today from the Jobs Now Coalition.

Seems that the JOBS NOW coalition gets the calls the very similarly-named (but much more recently created) MN Job Coalition does because it doesn’t have a phone number on its website. Just google it, gentle readers, and you see why those citizens wishing to get off the newbies’ mailing list might get confused.

Even better: The physical address given doesn’t actually exist.

Hey, no phone number and no real address means no accountability, something that Ben the Artful Dodger Golnik apparently prizes.

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Sunni Jihadists Are Camped Just East Of The Golan Heights. Why Hasn’t The IDF Blasted Them Yet?

Posted by Phoenix Woman on September 25, 2014

That’s the question Gary Brecher keeps asking:

Nobody ever seems to mention it, but the supposedly fearsome IS now owns the ground right under Israel’s Golan Heights fortifications, after moving in in June 2014 when the weary SAA, tired of being shelled by the IDF, moved out.

So IS has been in place right there on Israel’s border for months now—and there’s been no attack from Israel. Yes, folks, you might actually get the impression that the Israelis—who know a thing or two about threat assessment—just don’t take IS very seriously.

How can this be? Brecher has a few ideas about that:

Israel decided long ago that only the Shia are what noted Zionist Walter Sobchak would call “a worthy fuckin’ opponent.” If you look at the pattern of Israeli intervention in Syria since the Civil War began there, you find the IDF striking Assad’s SAA targets over and over , especially when the SAA might have been transferring weapons to Hezbollah—but to the best of my knowledge, not once attacking any Sunni jihadi forces like IS.

The Israeli view seems to be that only the Shia forces—the SAA, Hezbollah, and above all their patron Iran—are serious threats. Meanwhile, they’ve been treating Sunni jihadi militias like IS like de facto allies, never once attacking Sunni militias dug in just below the Golan Heights.

Most interesting.

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What the shouting is all about

Posted by Charles II on September 20, 2014

This is just another story of what is forming a pattern. Deutsche Welle did a program on The Aryans, which describes the re-emergence of Nazism in Germany. There are towns where Jews and non-whites cannot go out after dark, and where local people are afraid to talk about the extremists. We know about the neo-Nazis in the Ukraine. And now this, from Libby Brooks of The Guardian:

Six people were arrested amid angry scenes in Glasgow on Friday night as a group of young pro-union supporters clashed with pro-independence supporters who had been gathering in George Square throughout the day.

Police acted to separate a small group of pro-independence supporters from a group of skinheads believed to have marched from the loyalist pub the Louden Tavern in nearby Duke Street.

Individuals argued over the referendum result and a chorus of Rule Britannia was countered by Flower of Scotland.

As the evening wore on, and the yes supporters dispersed, more loyalists converged on the square, many of them draped in union flags.

A number were teenagers, and clearly drunk. At one point a section of the crowd broke through police lines and marched up the central shopping area of Buchanan Street, chanting the words to Rule Britannia. Some shouted loyalist slogans and racist abuse, and appeared to make Nazi salutes.

I do not think these are isolated events. I think there is an aggressive, international neo-Nazi movement, fueled by unemployment and culture change, and to some degree abetted by reactionary elements in business and government. The rest of the world should react accordingly.

____
Max Blumenthal on neo-Nazi elements in the Ukraine government.

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Tony Auth dies

Posted by Charles II on September 14, 2014

One of America’s best political cartoonists has died. We will miss him very much.

Image from here.

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A Few Remarks On ISIS

Posted by Phoenix Woman on September 13, 2014

A few points regarding ISIS:

1) The Kurds and the Shiite-dominated Iraqi army have been begging for months for some help against ISIS. Even many Sunnis are souring on them, as ISIS likes to kill even Sunnis who don’t meet their purity standards.

2) For those who think that ISIS’ beheadings are all about luring the US into a quagmire: Not every terror attack, not even those by Al Qaeda, is about tricking people into invading Iraq. The Madrid and London bombings were done to make Spain and the UK stand down, not double down, on their involvement. Furthermore, the latest beheadee isn’t an American, but a British aid worker. Does anyone think this was meant to get the Brits to invade Iraq?

3) ISIS is not Al Qaeda. They’re just one of many Sunni groups working the armchair-jihadi grift in the Middle East. They got kicked out of Jordan because the Jordanian security apparatus was a lot tougher than they were, so they fled to the jihadi-filled area just east of the Golan Heights (an area that for some reason never gets attacked by the IDF that rains bombs down upon Gaza, even though it’s well within IDF missile range) and to the largely empty wastelands in western Iraq. They hit the jackpot two years ago when the Saudis and Kuwaitis started their efforts to topple Syria’s Assad Baathist government, but even with boatloads of Saudi money they still couldn’t topple Assad, so they contented themselves with nabbing a few undefended oil towns on the Syria-Iraq and Kurdish frontiers so they could keep the money rolling in. (Trouble is, they killed too many engineers and the oil production machinery is starting to fall apart: http://edition.cnn.com/2014/09/03/business/defterios-oil-isis/ )

4) If anyone thinks that US bombing is going to increase ISIS’ numbers, I suggest they think again. From http://pando.com/2014/09/03/the-war-nerd-the-long-twisted-history-of-beheadings-as-propaganda/ :

IS was on a roll, overrunning lightly armed Peshmerga and village militias, before the US ruined everything by authorizing drones and airstrikes. It must have been damned annoying, being an IS fighter, bouncing over the plains in your Toyota Hilux, as the terrified Iraqi Army forces vanished ahead of you in a cloud of panicky dust. Quite a rush for the mix of AQI survivors and European-Muslim war tourists who fill IS’s ranks.

And then all of a sudden, you go from the dashing light-armor knights of the Iraqi plain to the biggest, most vulnerable targets imaginable—thin-skinned vehicles crawling over a completely flat, treeless plain while the drones buzz overhead, armed with Hellfire missiles, just waiting for authorization from a desk jockey in suburban Virginia before they release a weapon designed to destroy much bigger, tougher, Soviet tanks. Suddenly, you, with your Sunni Lawrence of Arabia war-tourist dreams, are nothing but a bug getting zapped by an automated pest-control device.

It’s insulting. And the kind of young men who join IS are romantics, of a sort. They might not mind dying in the abstract—most guys don’t, at that age, until they find out what it feels like to get shot in the stomach—but they hate the idea of dying in such an unchivalrous way.

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