Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

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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The crazy aunts in the Ukrainian attic

Posted by Charles II on October 15, 2014

Robert Parry, Consortium News:

For months, the New York Times and other major U.S. news outlets have insisted that it’s just Russian propaganda to say that a significant neo-Nazi presence exists inside Ukraine, but thousands of these “non-existent” neo-Nazis battled police on Tuesday outside the parliament building in Kiev demanding recognition of their Hitler-collaborating forebears.

The parliament, aware of the obvious public relations fiasco that would follow if it bowed to far-right demands to honor members of the Nazi-affiliated Ukrainian Insurgent Army (or UIA), defeated the proposal. That touched off riots by an estimated 8,000 protesters led by Ukraine’s right-wing Svoboda party and the Right Sektor.

So, is the Kiev government going to last, or will it be overthrown as the Yanukovych government was overthrown?

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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.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted by MEC on October 10, 2014

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted in Alexander the Great, Friday Cat Blogging | 3 Comments »

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted by MEC on October 3, 2014

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted in Alexander the Great, Friday Cat Blogging | 3 Comments »

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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Dumb Choices: Why Hillary should not be president

Posted by Charles II on October 2, 2014

I had five minutes to read Hillary Clinton’s book, Hard Choices, so I skimmed 10 pages on Latin America. Although I knew where she stood on Honduras, reading her explanation about that and the ongoing Cuban embargo made me realize how much contempt she has for Latin America.

I’m not a fan of Fidel Castro. Read Havana Nocturne (T.J. English) and see if it doesn’t raise questions in your mind about his character. I do recognize that he has done some good things, both in ending extreme poverty in Cuba and in terms of opposing apartheid and elevating world health. But I recognize that he’s done it through undemocratic means. That’s Realpolitik: understanding why leaders can be bad people yet popular, or at least more popular than the alternative.

But the embargo against Cuba–which was just extended for a year–is not just a “relic of the Cold War.” It is a flagrantly and increasingly illegal act, condemned by the entire world. Not even the U.K., not even Japan, not even Poland stands with us (Israel does). But Hillary Clinton goes along with the US line that we have to continue to isolate ourselves in order to force the Cuban government to democratize.

Even though it hasn’t worked for 52 years.

Even though the only people really hurt by it are the Cuban people.

And, according to Hillary, any Latin American country that sees the embargo not as a quaint “relic”, one that we can keep around out of fondness for the death and misery it causes, but as U.S. bullying (not to mention arrogance and stupidity) must be a commie creep like that Chaaavez fellow.

That is not leadership, Madame Secretary. That is contempt for Latin America and for the intelligence of your readers.

And then there’s Honduras. And Nicaragua. And Venezuela. And Brazil (!) All of whom are/were run by “strongmen.” Manuel Zelaya of Honduras is even the “caricature of a strongman.”

No, Madame Secretary. You’re a caricature of American arrogance and blindness. And your justification for your actions during the Honduran coup is transparently dishonest. You tell us that Oscar Arias (correctly) told you that a military coup against a democratically-elected leader could have a “domino effect” throughout a region that had been plagued by coups and dictatorship. You were most entertained by this “novel interpretation” (if I recall your phrase correctly) of the domino theory.

FFFFFFF. If this is the sort of contempt for Latin America that you display in public, what you must feel in your heart!

No more fake Democrats, please.

Posted in Brazil, Chavez, Cuba, Honduras, impunity, Latin America, Venezuela | 6 Comments »

Another war prevented accidentally by electing a Democrat

Posted by Charles II on October 1, 2014

As much as I criticize Barack Obama for his overuse of military force, I am pretty sure it would be a lot worse if John McCain or Mitt Romney were in charge. Here’s a bit of history that should scare us all:

Washington, DC, October 1, 2014 — Secretary of State Henry Kissinger ordered a series of secret contingency plans that included airstrikes and mining of Cuban harbors in the aftermath of Fidel Castro’s decision to send Cuban forces into Angola in late 1975, according to declassified documents made public today for the first time. “If we decide to use military power it must succeed. There should be no halfway measures,” Kissinger instructed General George Brown of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during a high-level meeting of national security officials on March 24, 1976, that included then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. “I think we are going to have to smash Castro,” Kissinger told President Ford. “We probably can’t do it before the [1976 presidential] elections.” “I agree,” the president responded.

The story of Kissinger’s Cuban contingency planning was published today in a new book, “Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations Between Washington and Havana,” co-authored by American University professor William M. LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh, who directs the National Security Archive’s Cuba Documentation Project.

The Cubans, you may recall, were in Angola to resist the brutal South African invasion of that country, an invasion intended to squelch any resistance to apartheid.

Our leaders are insane. Especially, most especially, the Republicans. Ironic that both Kissinger and Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize. Maybe next year we can award it to Vladimir Putin.

Posted in abuse of power, Africa, Cuba, Richard Nixon | 6 Comments »

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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“… the lovechild of Franz Kafka and Monty Python…” –Charlotte Heath

Posted by Charles II on September 29, 2014

Jason Edwards Harrington, former airport security agent, writes in the Guardian that laughter is the only proper response to a “War on Terror” that has replaced “the Axis of Evil” with “The Network of Terror”:

It’s hard not to see the funny facets of a never-ending campaign against a nebulous enemy (Axis of Evil a decade ago, Network of Death today) in which you are issued a terror intelligence memorandum detailing the standard operating procedure for the confiscation of cupcakes. (“Cupcakes have got to have a reasonable level of icing to be allowed onto a plane,” one TSA manager advised us.)

My former co-workers and I are not the only ones who found some of this stuff funny. In 2012, the international relations scholar Charlotte Heath-Kelly argued in a paper in the European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research that the War on Terror can be viewed as the lovechild of Franz Kafka and Monty Python as much as that of any vice president and foreign minister.

Not so funny: the creation of terrorists due to incompetent policy, the waste of resources desperately needed to keep the US from decomposing into a Second World country, and the level of corruption required to keep a nation of 300 million terrified of maybe 30,000 bad guys.

One interesting link in Harrington’s story. Seems we may have bombed a group that doesn’t exist. Imran Khan, Al Jazeera:

A few days ago I began to see news reports quoting US ‎military and government officials talking up a group called Khorasan. This piqued my interest. In 14 years of covering this region this was a new name for me. Then the reports began to paint them as a shadowy super group of hardcore terrorists that are experimenting with technology and new, ever more fiendish ways of attacking civilians in the US. Then the group became the target of US airstrikes in Syria and suddenly the name was on every news outlet’s lips.

Except something, to me, wasn’t right.

I began to make some calls to contacts across the Middle East and South Asia. To say I drew a blank would be an understatement. Reactions ranged from a hearty laugh to confusion. The name was new.

Khorasan is almost certainly a term that the US government has coined

Posted in wrong way to go about it | Tagged: | 2 Comments »