Why a holistic approach is what we need to tackle both violent crime and terrorism

In this piece, guest Writer Brian Frydenborg discusses South Carolina hate and puts it into an International perspective. But I must add my grain of salt regarding comments about George Bush Jr. Bush could not see further than the end of his nose, had no intellectual curiosity and his idea of a long term plan was securing enough political capital, by winning a War thus securing  high poll ratings, secure re election and push through more supply side trickle down economics to the wealthy. Having entered Baghdad -he had no plan. Defying all logic he was re elected only to leave a shattered economy and international reputation. As a rather dim witted war criminal I believe that he deserves no credit what so ever for his actions in the Middle East. Now Brian is obviously not simply referring to George Bush Jr -he is referring to his foreign policy experts, the “Vulcans.” These guys of course would have had a long term strategic plan. They would have written papers etc. But they where born and bred in a poisoned self inflicted environment – an environment that facilitated America’s disastrous decision to ignore the energy policies being proposed Jimmy Carter in 1979 and embrace the policies of Reagan and Bush. The long term strategy being to ensure long term access to cheap oil, so that their oil buddies could continue to rake it in and in so doing creating a massively unnecessary extraneous demand for  oil from the Middle East – leading to virtually all of the subsequent problems.

Why a holistic approach is what we need to tackle both violent crime and terrorism

Brian Frydenborg

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Out of the many past and present world conflicts that I have studied over the last decade, I have spent as much time with the Israeli/Palestinian conflict as with anything else.  And one thing that strikes me is how myopic and tactically oriented Israeli officials, especially Israeli political leaders, have been in terms of dealing with the issue of Palestinian and Arab terrorism.  Israel wins every war, every battle.  But its lack of strategic, long-term thinking has cost many lives on both sides of the conflict and has led to ineffective long-term policy that threatens to trap Israel into a quicksand of conflict and permanently alter it in very negative ways as to the nature of Israeli democracy and society.  The recent Israeli documentary “The Gatekeepers” (truly a must see) does perhaps the single best job of illustrating this point when all six surviving heads of Shin-Bet, Israel’s domestic intelligence service, conclude that a lack of strategic vision from Israel’s leading politicians has put Israel in a very dangerous place with no easy way out.  That such hard, practical men can all agree on this is what makes the film so compelling and disturbing at the same time.

Our own approach to terrorism here in the U.S. has been very different, and for different reasons we are also suffering from the ramifications of bad policy.  For all his faults, though, George W. Bush recognized after 9/11 that simply going to kill the terrorists who plotted 9/11 would not do much to limit our long-term exposure to such attacks and threats; he knew that there was something sick in the postwar, postcolonial Middle East and its cadres of monarchs and dictators that may have kept order and oil flowing but had done little for their people, economies, or societies.  And he was right about that.  That he thought the best way to help kickstart transformation in the Middle East was to invade Iraq, topple Saddam Hussein, and set up a democracy in his place, though, was questionable at best; whatever you thought of that idea, the execution of this plan not only left much to be desired but could be called criminally negligent at worst, and more or less doomed Iraq’s American-top-down-imposed-democracy-project from almost the start.

tintinb632At least, though, America saw a problem—Islamic terrorism—and attempted some sort of long-term fix (albeit one that ended in disaster in the short term and only leaves us with a giant question mark at best in the present and even medium-term future, its long-term results, then, also not looking good). This is in contrast to Israel, which (mostly) never seemed to think setting the Palestinians up with a state and a future of their own was worth exploring or planning over the course of nearly five decades of a hardly benign Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza Strip and an even more destructive policy of transferring hundreds of thousands of Jewish men, women, and children into these Arab-dominated areas in settlements that the whole world, including the UN Security Council (and including the U.S.) has condemned as illegal and a roadblock to peace.  And while in some ways the U.S., thankfully, is getting some help from Facebook, Twitter, cell phones, the internet, and Arabs themselves when they all helped to spark the Arab Spring, which has helped to bring about the ending of that sick, moribund post-colonial system of generally American-supported dictators and monarchs, accomplishing in a fraction of the time what a decade-long war in Iraq could not even for all its setbacks, Israel is still staring into an abyss, propelled by its own hubris and myopia.  Thus, America is now eyeing the Middle East with a much longer view, then, while Israel still envisions little beyond tomorrow, next month, or next year.Picture

Though America does not suffer from the same strategic blindness and inaction that Israel does regarding terrorism, sadly, it does seem to suffer from such afflictions in almost all major domestic policy issues of the day.  The “War on Terror” thus joins the “War on Crime” and the “War on Drugs” as other wars against things which cannot be defeated.  Terror is a tactic, and you cannot defeat a tactic, nor can you defeat terror by killing all the currently existing terrorists because that does nothing to address the issues that created terrorists in the first place; crime is not simply a matter of arresting and locking up criminals (and nobody is better at that than the U.S., as we have the highest incarceration rate in the world and have for over a decade), as arresting and even executing criminals will not change the murder rates in South Side of Chicago or the Northeast quadrant of Washington, DC.; drugs (prescription or otherwise) are something that will always be with us and abused by some to their own ruin and the ruin of those who care about them, their families, and their communities, but like crime or terror, drugs are not an enemy that can be defeated.  The same childlike idealism that led George W. Bush to believe that he would become, in the words of Bill Maher, the Johnny Appleseed of democracy in the Middle East has led the American populace and many of its leading politicians to believe that crime and drugs are an enemy that can be defeated: punish criminals, punish drug users and dealers, lock them up, and the problem goes away, right?

Wrong.

Until 2012, which saw a slight increase in violent crime, the previous few years had seen a steady though slight decrease in violent crime.  The decreases returned in 2013 and in preliminary data from 2014.  However, as a Pew study shows, since the late 1980s, the U.S. prison population has almost tripled, from over half a million (almost 600,000) to over one-and-a-half million people (almost 1.6 million) in 2007; the prison population peaked at over 1.6 million in 2009 and has only decreased slightly since then; that’s over 1 of every 100 adults.  Furthermore, the pew study shows the amount states are spending is steadily increasing, with 13 states spending over $1 billion each on corrections and five states spending more or the same on corrections as they do on higher education.  California and Texas alone spend over $12 billion on prisons in 2007, all states together spending over $49 billion, a 315 percent increase since 1987.  Corrections average out to be the fifth largest state expenditure, with one out of every fifteen dollars that states spend being spent on corrections.  Furthermore, increases in this category have been higher than increases in Medicaid and in education spending.  As I have pointed out before, we already spend very little on gun control or on funding the ATF.  Much like healthcare, then, with their prisoners Americans seem content to take very few preventive measures—which are relatively very cost effective—and to wait for something bad to happen—a person getting sick, someone shooting another person—before taking action, action that then becomes much more costly and less effective at longer term prevention.  As the Pew report notes, the corrections system seems to do very little correcting.

Again, to Bush’s credit, he saw remaking the Middle East, and Afghanistan, through military force as a preventive, long term measure.  At least he attempted something long-term, whereas the Israeli leaders seem almost content to manage short-term crisis after short-term crisis through what is in many ways is the foundation of their state: the Israel Defense Forces, with very little serious effort given to a long term peace. Yitzhak Rabin tried (albeit very late in his career) and he was assassinated by a right-wing Jewish extremist.  Israel’s counter terrorism policy, then, is counter terrorism at its purest, simplest, and most ineffective: respond to each attack with overwhelming force and/or lethal precision.  That seems to be all it has in its play book, as I have noted before, and this approach is eerily similar to America’s approach to healthcare, crime, and any of a number of other issues: when something breaks (e.g., a body party), fix it; when terrorists or criminals strike, kill them and their supporters.  In this view, it is simply a matter of individual behavior, of individual health issues.

These approaches fail to see the big picture: how preventive, regular medicine and consultations as part of an affordable, subsidized national health care system can save the nation as a whole (and most people) a ton of money in the long run and save many lives.  Addressing Palestinian aspiration for a state of their own anytime during the last several decades could have seen much of the Palestinian efforts towards terrorist actions transformed instead into the business of a people with their own sovereign state and society to run.  Helping under served communities and developing them economically and educationally would do a lot to lessen crime as young men in particular—those who are most likely to commit violent crimes—find jobs and degrees instead of guns and drugs that are easy to sell.  So sickness is treated not directly, but by focusing on preventative medicine, while crime and terrorism have more or less the same solution: the same concepts of international development that can be effective in fostering long term conditions which would create societies where terrorism would find much less fertile ground to grow can be applied to areas right here in the U.S. in order to foster development in communities where crime is rampant.  In other cases, such as those of the Palestinians, Chechens, Kurds, or Tamils, the iron fist of oppression lasting decades or even longer generally does not stop terrorism but only encourages it since, for the desperate, terrorism is often the cheap, cost effective way to fight more powerful enemies when all other options have been denied to a group.  This explains the IRA’s decision to abandon terrorism when a framework was worked out for sharing political power in Northern Ireland.

As this striking interactive feature from the University of Maryland shows, terrorism in recent years has been remarkable concentrated: roughly two thirds of the world’s terrorist incidents in the last decade have occurred in four countries: Iraq, Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan, and that ratio has more or less been consistent even as the absolute amount of attacks has more than quadrupled since the beginning of our so-called “War on Terror.”  This visual clarity makes it clear that so-called “Global War on Terror” has only led to a huge increase in terrorist attacks worldwide.  Before the U.S. invaded Afghanistan and then Iraq, there were well under 1,500 terrorist incidents; by 2007 that had risen to over 4,500 incidents.  Iraq and Afghanistan alone had about 1,400 incidents, about one third of all terrorist incidents; another third were in Pakistan and India, the first country’s incidents very much tied to the war in Afghanistan, and many of the second country’s incidents also, though to a lesser degree, suffering from the Afghanistan/Pakistan terror nexus.  Basically, the U.S.’s actions had the effect of greatly increasing incidents of terrorism.  So even though Bush gets credit for trying a long term solution, the attempt was a disaster of epic proportions.  International development—the work of USAID, NGOs and the UN, among others—is a much better investment value for winning friends and helping to create conditions where extremism and violence find it harder to grow.  In fact, it is such good counterterrorism that both Generals David Petraeus and Stanley McChrystal made political and economic development the very point of the security operations in their counterinsurgency strategies in Iraq and Afghanistan.  In fact, the military in both these theatees engaged in massive development projects to the point that the military even added these types of “stability operations” to its list of core mission functions.

So it is that the best counterterrorism is international development, just as helping to revitalize devastated, poor, uneducated communities is the best way to bring down crime.  We do not need people as smart and capable as Generals Petraeus and McChrystal to tell us that here, we just have to think of both our crime and terrorism problems as all-encompassing problems that transcend simple solutions like “lock ‘em up” and “kill ‘em all.”  Sure, there will always be your uncommon, freak murders and freak terror attacks, like that police officer in L.A. who went on a shooting rampage or the two brothers who carried out the Boston Marathon bombings.  Some crazy cults like ISIS, al-Qaeda, and the Japanese group that released sarin gas into the Tokyo Sunway can very likely be reasonably accommodated, but the Chechen or Palestinian fighting against oppression today, like the Irishman before them, can likely be accommodated by a long term peace settlement that will not please everyone but will be good enough for most.  Sometimes, you need to kill to defeat terror; but whenever possible, you should defeat terror by defusing the often legitimate grievances of its practitioners, much like helping would-be criminals escape from poverty, drugs, and failing schools, and taking preventative measures to keep weapons that enable them to more easily and effectively commit crimes out of their hands.  The U.S. was faulted after the fall of Saddam’s regime in 2003 for not securing Iraq’s weapons depots, weapon which ended up in the hands of terrorists and insurgents; likewise, why would we want guns flowing around our more devastated urban areas like they flowed in Baghdad?

We don’t need to lock 1% of our adult population up or start massive wars to combat crime and terrorism.  Rather, we cease our myopic approach es and need to address root causes and enablers, and (international) development and limiting access to arms for both would-be-criminals and would-be terrorists are much better starting-off points for successful policy.  We have begun to realize this in terms of counterterrorism, but we are woefully short of this mark when it comes to our home front.  In light of this most recent racially-motivated mass shooting in Charleston, SC, which can easily be considered both a hate crime and a terrorist act, this is the least we can do in face of the obvious failure of our approaches thus far.

Grading Obama’s Middle East Strategy (Sensibly): Part II: Syria

This piece takes us up to events prior to Russia’s offensive, the consequences of  Putin’s various missteps and collapsing price for oil , and prior to the Paris and Lebanon bombings. These recent events actually combine to create a new and likely very positive dynamic, which I optimistically discuss here and here. All major parties involved in tackling ISIS – The Americans, the Europeans, the Russians and various Arab Countries have made strategic errors. Basically all these parties have been putting too much emphasis on their own individual interests and in the European’s case negotiating with Terrorists (i.e paying ransoms for to kidnappers). The above listed events will force the Russians to be pliable, the Americans to re adjust their objectives -to show flexibility over Assad , and the Europeans some backbone – all party’s will  work a bit closer to each other as Iran and Lebanon also operate in a more co-ordinated manner. I also do not see much downside in the little spat between Turkey and Russia -as both leaders are equally irritating and if any two parties are to butt heads to a mutual disadvantage – then this couple are an ideal match.

The priorities  should be placed in this order 1) encircling and then destroying ISIS by attrition – I’m sure some bombs etc might be called for 2) focusing on transitioning Syria to place that Syrians want to live -with minimal “political” interference from the Americans or Russians (America must be prepared to allow the Russians to  feel that their interests will not be frozen out- assuming Putin plays ball, on this and other issues)—but rather an international effort to nation build a post Assad Country (assuming the Syrians determine that he must go.) Therefore in short  –as long as we all ignore all the US politicians running for the Presidency -(including Hillary and Bernie) it should be possible to create an unprecedented alliance -with a singular objective to take down ISIS, nation building for the locals,  by using ones intelligence, united strategic thinking for the benefit of the peoples in the region, and turning ones back on shooting from the hip, winging it and hoping for best—as in that event, the worse will happen. Most importantly the politics of fear, bigotry and hate must be rejected and treated with the contempt it so thoroughly deserves.  Patrick Andendall

Grading Obama on what hasand has notbeen done by his administration regarding the Syrian Civil War

By Brian E. Frydenborg (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter @bfry1981) 

Reuters

This piece has also been published by the Russian International Affairs Council(RIAC).

Those who argue that the Obama Administration’s overall Middle East strategy is a total failure have no sense of strategy themselves and dangerously substitute tactical-here-and-nows and pointless posturing for real strategy (especially Republicans). That’s not to say some of the Obama Administration’s Middle East policies aren’t lacking, but overall the Administration has more progress and sound approaches to point to than failures and mismanagement. Below, all of the Obama Administration’s major Middle East policies are broken down and given a letter grade. Here, then, is a look at all the major efforts of the Obama Administration in the Middle East, and as it covers a lot of territory this has been broken up into three parts, this being Part II and covering the Syrian Civil War.

Other articles in this series:

Grading Obama’s Middle East Strategy (Sensibly): Part I

4.) Dealing with Syria’s Civil War

AMMAN Amidst a sea of Middle Eastern conflicts, the civil war raging in Syria is currently the largest and deadliest. Here, as in other situations, we have a crisis in which we must be careful not to blame Obama too much but must also note the missed opportunities where his substantive leadership could have made a huge difference, though not without some risk involved. So, right from the start, it must be acknowledged both that America could have done a lot more in regards to Syria, potentially helping to dramatically lessen the violence and perhaps even ending the war on the one hand, but, on the other, that America bears little responsibility for causing or contributing to the overall Syrian tragedy.

First, let’s examine the history this war the Obama Administration’s response to it, starting from the very beginning.

Of Arms and Assad I Sing

REUTERS/Mahmoud Hassano

Once upon a time in 2011, there was an uprising in Syria of many of the country’s own people who wanted Syria’s President (dictator) Bashar al-Assad to step down so they could change the system and have more freedom. They were inspired by their Arab brethren in the happier days of the Arab Spring in 2011. This was, generally, a struggle for freedom, representation, human rights, and democracy in a country ruled by an authoritarian, repressive, undemocratic Syrian regime with an Alawite (a word describing a subsect of Shia Islam that is only roughly 12% of Syria’s population) ruling family and many other Alawites at the top, ruling over mostly Sunni Muslims, though the regime and its supporters are by no means exclusively Alawite. While in 2011, people power brought down long-ruling autocrats in Tunisia, Egypt, and Yemen, and American-led NATO intervention rescued a revolution in Libya from massacre and disaster and helped overthrow Libya’s dictator, Muammar el-Qaddafi, Syria had no such luck with its people power or Western intervention. Qaddafi, alone and Isolated and ruling over a far smaller population, was a relatively easy target. Compared to Qaddafi’s regime, Assad’s military was much stronger and, unlike Qaddafi’s, hadstrong patrons in Russia and Iran who would complicate and increase the costs of any Western intervention and made the prospects of any success for the Syrian people on their own quite dim.

Some powers talked of intervening in Syria, but with the U.S. signaling no appetite for direct military involvement, no other Western governments put their militaries in action against the Assad regime, nor did any regional governments. Still, Obama did call forAssad to step down in August 2011, and moved to increase sanctions and economic pressure on the regime at the same time. There was also a robust debate within the Obama administration about arming the Syrian rebels. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, then-CIA chief and later Gates’ successor Leon Panetta, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (also Bill Clinton) all agreed on arming significant numbers of moderate Syrian rebels, but they were unable to persuade President Obama in the end. If moderate rebels had been robustly supported early in the conflict, when an increasing stream of Syrian Army officers (including generals) and soldiers were defecting to the rebel cause, perhaps the regime could been brought to its knees and would have been willing to enter serious negotiations; perhaps Assad would have been willing to leave if given immunity. The U.S. and West could have made a huge difference in the conflict with direct intervention by degrading the Assad regime’s military capabilities and limiting the shipments of weapons into Syria with a combination of naval blockades, no-fly-zones, and the U.S. specifically partnering with its allies Iraq and (NATO member) Turkey to use drones, reconnaissance flights, and other high-tech monitoring equipment to lock down Syria’s land borders with both nations. NATO could have played a significant role in such an operation, too, not terribly dissimilar to its role in the operation in Libya.

Karam Al-Masri/AFP/Getty Images

But no serious action was taken along these lines and in this absence of action, into the fray came Islamist extremist jihadists—including ISIS—even more murderous than Assad’s thugs. Suddenly, the moderate homegrown Syrian revolutionary rebels, who were having a difficult enough time holding their own with little international support against Assad’s well-and-Russian-armed forces, found themselves having to compete with and also fight well-armed, well-funded foreign jihadists extremists. Many of the moderate rebels lost heart and quit; still others defected to the more successful andmore robustly-backed Islamists. At the same time, other Shiites were coming to the aid of Assad’s Shiite Alawite-led regime: the Iranian government was sending some of its elite military units and leaders and Lebanese Hezbollah’s well-trained militia forceswere also coming and making a big difference in favor of Assad at this time, bothsupporting and fighting for Assad on Syrian soil.

Instead of being supported by the international community and slowly and surely gaining territory, credibility, and influence, the Syrian moderates were themselves losing territory, credibility, and influence to the better-supported Islamists and their more extreme tactics. Almost all the factions became more radicalized, more violent. Amajor attack in July 2012 in Damascus that killed top regime insiders, including the defense minister and Assad’s brother in law—still the most spectacular attack to date carried out against the regime—was claimed by both moderate and extremist rebels, with some noting evidence that pointed to Islamists, and still others saying it was an inside job of the regime itself.

Narciso Contreras, Associated Press

Whoever carried it out, after this bombing, the conflict became even more deadly and brutal in Syria, with both 2012 and 2013 each seeing extreme escalations in violence and lethality. Foreign Shiite militias joined the Iranian government’s and Lebanese Hezbollah’s well-trained militia forces (both Shiite as well) already aiding and fighting for Assad in Syria. As the situation kept deteriorating, at some points in 2012 the CIA began helping U.S. allies Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar vet and identify rebels moderate enough to recommend them for military support and Obama secretlyauthorized both covert non-lethal support from the U.S. for some Syrian rebels and a program to militarily train some of them, too, though these efforts were to be very limited in nature; even when they were “sharply increased” early and later in 2013, respectively, the programs had been so small to begin with that they still remained very limited  Obama also politically recognized Syria’s main opposition group (the Syrian Opposition/National Coalition) at the end of 2012, though without recognizing it as the legitimate government of Syria. But when the rebels suffered serious losses, in the middle of 2013, the Obama Administration and select Congressional Committees finally decided to have America itself arm Syrian rebels with “lethal military aid,”allowing the CIA to arm vetted Syrian rebels directly (though not with any advanced or heavy weaponry), and those weapons finally began to be delivered at the very end of the summer of 2013.

As the conflict continued to worsen and concerns about Assad’s chemical weapons ofmass destruction (WMD) programs—one of the largest in the world—were raised, Obama even repeatedly and publicly warned Assad that if his regime was found to be readying or using “a whole bunch” of chemical weapons of mass destruction (WMD), that this would constitute a “red line” that would mean a severe response from the U.S., even possibly including military action. Throughout this period, rumors and reports of the use of chemical weapons use began to trickle out of Syria, culminating in the summer of 2013 with reports of a massive chemical WMD sarin gas attack—the largest in the world in a quarter-century since Saddam Hussein gassed Iraqi Kurds in 1988—near Damascus. Unlike previous reports, these highlighted an attack that was both of an unprecedented scale for this conflict—it killed about 1,400 people—andconfirmed publicly by several major Western governments (including that of the United States), Human Rights Watch, and later by the United Nations. As to who was the culprit, as I pointed out at the time, the signs clearly pointed to elements of the Assad regime carrying out the attack.

To Strike or Not to Strike, That Was the Question

Horrified by the attack and seeing this “red line” crossed with impunity, first Kerry and then Obama made an impassioned case to the American people that a military response against Assad’s regime was both necessary and proper and began to move the machinery of the American government and its allies towards this end. Yet the American people, weary of war after the disasters of the (W.) Bush Administration, began to see Obama’s moves to engage in limited strikes in Syria as all too similar to Bush’s moves to invade Iraq; they failed to see, as I myself made clear, that Syria 2013 was not Iraq 2003, and that Obama is not Bush, for despite the support of both the top Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, Speaker of the House John Boehner, and the top Democrat in the same body, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, few others of either party in Congress emerged to support Obama’s plan to strike Assad’s regime and far more came out against it. Even as opposition began growing at home, the House of Commons of the British Parliament shockingly rejected Prime Minister David Cameron’s motion to support pending American strikes and the Prime Minister himself stated he would respect the vote and not join the U.S. were it to initiate strikes against Assad’s regime. Soon after this setback, opposition to the Obama Administration’s plans for military strikes gained traction very quickly both at home and abroad.

With Obama himself never too eager to intervene militarily and with both his own party and America’s most stalwart foreign ally for military interventions uncharacteristically declining to join the fray, Obama publicly announced he would seek Congressional approval. In some ways, this could be considered a welcome move, coming after the Bush Administration often showed little more than contempt for opposition sentiment in Congress after the early months of near unquestioning-support from much of Congress just after the September 11th attacks faded to the more acrimonious, partisan atmosphere that characterized the end of Bush’s first term and all of his second (this poisonous political atmosphere only got worse after Obama was elected). Furthermore, if Obama was able to muster Congressional support, it would empower him that much more in the public and political senses. And yet, Obama’s putting so much power and influence in the hands of Congress on so crucial an action showed that he had learned almost nothing at all from his previous interactions with Congress, whether with insecure Democrats nervous about retaining their seats or with an implacable Tea Party-driven Republican majority in the House that was determined to avoid cooperation with the president at nearly all costs. To allow Congress to vote against his plan was to invite it to be weakened and to drive any international support to significantly lower levels, if not destroying it entirely. That President Obama did not realize that this outcome was far more likely from the beginning reveals a remarkable naïveté for a president in his second term dealing with factions that had more than established who they were and how they would behave. Never mind that Obama was perfectly within his Constitutional and legal rights to do so, and that there are ample precedents in American history dating back to the Administrations of Presidents Adams (for military action short of war) and Jefferson (for military action overseas without Congressional authorization), our second and third presidents, respectively, because being undermined in such a serious way politically would itself carry grave real-world consequences.

Obama’s s attempt to rally support failed miserably, as in the days that followed public opposition in the U.S. became widespread, vocal, and bipartisan. Obama’s idealistic attempt to engage the elected representatives of the people weakened his position considerably, for, despite some support from the most relevant Committees in Congress, the overall trends in both the House and the Senate showed that the Obama Administration had little to no chance of either the full House of the full Senate passing a resolution either approving or authorizing military action in Syria against Assad. Basically, instead of leading decisively, Obama decided to say “wait, let’s have a discussion” at this critical juncture after there had already been weeks of mulling over what to do, preferring to pass at least some of the responsibility and maybe even some of the authority from the Executive Branch to the Legislative Branch. Even the rebels and the government in Syria both strangely united in questioning this move of Obama’s. Again, such an action is one that works better in the abstract than in practice, and it was at such a juncture, with the very presidency stalling and losing altitude on such a critical military issue, that Russia and Vladimir Putin waded into the fray, seizing on a single comment by Secretary of State John Kerry—that Assad could avoid strikes if he gave up his chemical WMD—to propose a plan facilitate just that. This was, to use my own label, after Russia’s long stint as the obstructionist Tea Party of international politics and also after Putin’s farcical, blithely hypocritical New York Times op-ed calling for a diplomatic, non-violent solution even though, less than a year later, he sent Russian troops pouring into Ukraine when violence as a means suited his ends there and did the same five years earlier in Georgia. Still, while virtually anything that would significantly reduce Assad’s WMD stockpile has to be objectively seen as a positive, on one level, the ensuing deal left Obama and the U.S presidency significantly emasculated. On another level, it was clear that the threat of U.S. strikes was the only thing that prodded Russia into doing anything that was either significant or productive in relation to this conflict. And yet, as I wrote at the time, on another, grander level, Putin’s move was entirely in his self-interest, as the deal itself was something of an insurance policy he took out on Assad’s regime, a significant ally of Russia’s that was both a major buyer of Russian arms and the host of Russia’s only military base outside of the former USSR.

In any event, after Obama declined to strike the Assad regime and Russia’s proposal—which had become the UN’s—was accepted by Syria, seeing Syria’s 1,300 tons ofdeclared chemical weapons painstakingly removed from Syria (there is now, disturbingly, new evidence that Assad may have kept some undeclared top-grade chemical WMD hidden from inspectors to be used in more desperate times), what I predicted—that this would do nothing to stem the drivers of the conflict and that the war in Syria would only continue and continue to get worse like some sort of vortex—came to pass, with 2014 being the deadliest year of the conflict thus far and no end in sight. Now, Syria truly is a vortex, becoming inflated and conflated with so many other conflicts that it has metastasized into one big megaconflict. Syria’s neighbors, as I predicted in the fall of 2013, are also suffering an increasingly destabilizing burden as a result of the conflict—none more so than Iraq as ISIS broke off from al-Qaeda and proceeded to shock the world with its march from Syria into Iraq in 2014—and the more than four million registered refugees it has produced.

UNHCR

Still, as mentioned, even before the chemical weapons attacks, the Obama Administration had signaled and had taken steps—albeit very miniscule ones—to support rebels fighting to overthrow Assad’s regime. Yet, in addition to Obama’s natural caution and the lack of political and public support for robust involvement in Syria, a classified 2012-2013 CIA study found very little success with past CIA covert armings of rebel groups in various conflicts over nearly seventy years unless Americans were on the ground working with rebels where they were fighting (something the Obama Administration was clear it wanted to avoid at the time); this means that even up through the publishing of this article at the beginning of August 2015, the Administration’s anti-Assad efforts when it comes to supporting rebels actively fighting against Assad have been half-hearted, tepid, and ineffective at best. As the CIA training program for vetted moderate rebels encountered difficulties, stalled, and produced limited results and is now having a significant part of its funding cut, the Obama Administration began to shift responsibility to the U.S. military by giving it a new program to train Syrian rebels; but whereas the CIA program was concocted to produce forces to fight Assad’s regime, the U.S. Military’s program will focus on producing fighters to go after ISIS. Obama asked Congress to approve $500 million in funding for the new program in the summer of 2014, and by the end of the year, Congress had approved an over $720 million package for the program, demonstrating both the shift in the U.S. view from Assad to ISIS as the major threat and the seriousness with which ISIS was being viewed (Assad may even be playing into this shift by deliberately aiding ISIS in an effort to empower the terrorist group as a way to further deflect Western attention away from itself to ISIS and stoke further fears of what would happen should the Assad regime fall, making leaders more reluctant to push for his ouster). The military training program began this spring, but as of early July hadonly managed to train less than sixty rebels, a paltry figure by any standards. To make matters worse, even before the end of July, al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria and ISIS rival,Jabhat al-Nusra/the Nusra Front, had embarrassingly captured one of the U.S-trained-rebels’ senior commanders and his deputy and then later attacked the U.S.-trained rebel group.  Another embarrassing development is that the Assad regime has beenresorting to the regular use of makeshift chemical weapons—the regime’s infamousbarrel bombs with chlorine gas added to their payload—against civilians. While thesemore improvised chlorine chemical weapons do not reach the level of lethality of the WMD attack from the summer of 2013 (an attack that multiple investigations confirmed involved highly-deadly sarin gas), the blatant and repeated violation of the international norm against the use of chemical weapons without any serious consequence is a development that begs their future use by both Assad’s regime and other who share its lack of concern for international norms and human life.

Additionally, just over the past week, after Turkey’s long opposition to Assad by way ofsupporting Islamist extremists—including, at least tacitly (and sometimes more directly), ISIS and the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front—backfired recently with the worst terrorist attack in Turkey against civilians in years and carried out by a Turkish citizen with reported tied to ISIS, there is, apparently, a new level of cooperation between Turkey and the United States, including plans to establish a “safe zone” corridor in Syria along the country’s border with Turkey using American air power and both Turkish and rebel ground forces. The plan reportedly calls for ISIS to be cleared from a zone inside Syria extending sixty miles from Turkey’s border and which would also serve as a safe haven for civilians, though U.S. officials later denied such a plan has been agreed upon. I called for at least a similar robust corridor back in the fall of 2013 as a starting point from which moderate rebels, supported by the West, could further expand control and as one of the only realistic ways for an intervention to have an impact on driving down the drivers of conflict and moving in any way towards an end to the Syrian Civil war and the mass killing associated with it (as neither Assad’s chemical weapons nor ISIS were the reasons behind the Syrian Civil War and its perpetuation). However, it remains to be seen if this talk will turn into action and enough of such action to make a real difference. Especially with Obama close to leaving office and an election season well underway, there are reasons to doubt this safe corridor will actually come into being anytime soon if at all, at least in a significant way. Then again, Obama has shown a boldness and a willingness to take the risks required for big payoffs in recent months, most especially with Cuba and Iran, so such talk should also not be immediately written off. Furthermore, there is at least a chance that the recent agreement with Iran will spur further cooperation between Iran and the United States, with Syria perhaps being the most pressing and obvious case for such cooperation apart from the problem of ISIS. Only time will tell, especially given the conflicting messages coming out of media and official sources. But if some sort of a safe-zone is established by two (or more) NATO countries like the U.S. and Turkey, it could be a game changer for Assad, and not to his benefit. If such action expands, thesuccessful NATO air-war in Kosovo could be seen as something of a loose blueprint. A Syria free of Assad and with ISIS tamed could be a starting point for peace and a new future for the Syrian people. What is happening now is a starting point for nothing but death and destruction.

While the U.S. may be significantly and substantively stepping up the fight against ISIS in Syria, having now been directly striking ISIS targets inside Syria with a respectable-sized coalition of air power for some time (and reportedly maybe indirectly communicating with Assad’s regime about those strikes), and while talk of creating a humanitarian corridor is certainly welcome, even allowing for those developments, there is very little of substance the U.S. has done to stem the long-term drivers of the Syrian Civil War and thus, very little it has done little to bring about an end to this conflict and a stop to the mass killing involved with it. As peace talks pushed by the U.S. between the regime and the opposition, each with goals wholly incompatible to the other, have accomplished nothing and seem all but certain to go nowhere for the foreseeable future, the focus on ISIS and on chemical weapons has obscured the fact that the Assad regime and the war in general slaughters civilians on a mass scale and that little has been done to stop this by anyone.

Bold “What Ifs” vs. “Do no harm”

Having traced the Syrian Civil War from its inception through now and the U.S. role (or lack thereof) in it during this same period, how the U.S. could even be judged or graded on its involvement must also be discussed.

Since the United States: 1.) bears no serious responsibility for the initial homegrown protests in Syria that prompted a brutal, murderous government response that, in turn, provoked an uprising which led to the Syrian Civil War, 2.) was not even not the among first Western nations formally recognizing the opposition, 3.) has been very lightly involved compared with other major international meddlers in this conflict (e.g. Russia,Iran, Hezbollah, the Gulf states…), and 4.) since the overall post-2003 Iraq mess, for which the U.S. does bear a majority of overall responsibility, was actually at its best levels of security all throughout the first two years of the protests/fighting in Syria, we cannot even begin to argue that the U.S. screwing up Iraq is one of the major reasons why the Syrian Civil War got so out of control. If anything, the situation in Syria eventually did much more to destabilize Iraq than the other way around. That is no to say that our actions in Libya (which will be discussed in Part III) did not possibly serve to foster a hope within dissident Syrians that the U.S./NATO/the West would intervene on their behalf, but using that possibility to assign major blame to the U.S. for Syria’s conflict falls far short of a logical conclusion.

REUTERS/Muzaffar Salman

However, as demonstrated, the U.S. had major opportunities to help make major differences and assist the Syrian people and their homegrown revolutionaries in overthrowing Assad. This the U.S. (and the world) declined to do, except in only very minor ways and quite belatedly, making the war in Syria a heavyweight fight between Ba’athist authoritarianism and jihadist theocracy, with the local Syrian moderates being left to waste away in the face of multiple competing factions and multiple threats. As inother relatively recent situations of mass killing (e.g., Rwanda, Bosnia, the Congo, theongoing genocide in Darfur), it is disappointing that, absent U.S. leadership, no other nation stepped up to lead and significantly help the local, moderate rebels, and that so many people have, are, and will continue to die as a result, so the blame for inaction on Syria is hardly on the U.S. alone. But especially after Obama’s waffling and inaction on his chemical weapons “red line” (a true low point of Obama’s presidency, which even his then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta acknowledges was a huge mistake) and after Russia’s Syrian WMD deal, Assad has felt secure and undaunted when it comes to the West, while the extremist jihadists are ascendant at the expense of the moderate rebels as much as at the expense of the regime, if not more so. And it seems, sadly, that, without U.S. leadership, there is no end to this brutal war in sight.

But with less than eighteen months left in Obama’s presidency, and with ISIS now being the priority target before Assad (though Obama reiterated earlier in July that it still his and the U.S. Government’s official position that Assad needs to step down), it is very unlikely that Assad will be gone before Obama leaves office in January 2017 or anytime soon after that, given the lack of real action the U.S. and other world powers have taken to bring this about. Obama’s current Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter,bluntly admitted this recently during a Senate hearing. Still, the new U.S. training program for moderate rebels and new talk of a “safe zone” should not be prematurely dismissed, although nor, conversely, should any chicks be counted before the eggs are hatched.

But one final point must also be made: given America’s recent decade-and-then-some of misadventures, Obama does deserve some credit for not inserting America in a huge, destructive, or counterproductive way into the morass of the Syrian Civil War.

Grade: Overall C, more recently C+

Baraa Al-Halabi

For these reasons, the Obama Administration cannot be given lower than a C on Syria because, as discussed, the U.S. has not been a major player in Syria historically or recently and therefore cannot be said to be one those parties most at fault for the creation or perpetuation of the Syrian Civil War or its frightening metastasization. Furthermore, contrary to recent years, the U.S. now has avoided inserting itself blunderingly and destructively into a major quicksand-like ground role in the war. It also avoided its Cold War modus operandi of blindly aiding extremist groups killing many civilians and committing many atrocities.  So, to its credit, the Administration avoiding a repeat of Iraq in 2003 as well as many of America’s misadventures from the Cold War. Yet so much more could have been done to mitigate or possibly end the war over the last four years, so many tens of thousands (or more) of lives could have been saved, and though the U.S. is far from alone in being blamed for inaction, it still could have done so much more than the very, very little it ended up doing, its embarrassing “red line” moment perhaps the most obvious example of this, when the correct and better arguments for intervention quickly fell to the side without the wind of political will to keep them aloft. To be fair to the Obama Administration, these wind of political will were absent from all significant concerned parties, with the U.S. hardly being the party with either the most responsibility to act or the most interests at stake. While recent reports suggest a very belated better-far-too-late-than-never increase in efforts to help moderate rebels, the results and the seriousness of these efforts remain to be seen, and as moderate rebels generally stand now, they have been all but pushed aside andare languishing in near-irrelevance as the conflict has devolved mainly into a conflict between Assad’s autocratic, oppressive regime and Islamist extremists intent on building a caliphate. So, even as the Administration cannot be given lower than a C, it also cannot be given higher than a C. Thus, an “average” grade of C it is, with + being added for the more recent months on the hope that recent moves, deliberations, and talk prove more fruitful and productive than the meager and disappointing efforts of the Obama Administration thus far.

Narciso Contreras/Associated Pres

Oh Deare John –You are the Logical End Game of a Stupidparty Disciple

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Now that the story is crystallizing –they are going to say that you are mentally ill. Yes they might have a point – but who are they to throw stones at you, when you are one of them, born and bred out of them. So somewhat crazy people will now call you crazy, try and create a distance, try and pretend that they are not guilty of being part of the same collective consciousness.

They will try and lie, Fox will deny, deny, deny –they will claim the shooting was at a Chase bank. These Roger Ailes bloodhounds, these pseudo journalists will spin so fast that nothing will fall into focus.

For many you are a hero. Others will quietly offer up a prayer of thanks—but most stupidparty disciples will now enter into denial. For what did you do but carry out the agenda of a typical stupidparty disciple. Here they are-out in all their glory. First  they tweet:

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Then  they meet  -where else, but on the Fox news website:

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You have it all – an aging white cover to cover bible believing, gun toting, troglodyte guy, spiraling ever further down into an intellectual and spiritual death cycle. Everything you believe in has no validity. You are the journey, the future that confronts so many others –who have zero substance or intellect to support their views, thus they must devolve in ever greater isolation, fear, and hate. It is not simply that you hate virtually everyone (who is not precisely as crazy as you) but that you hate yourself –because your whole world view has led to a brick wall, an end of times for you and anyone who happens to get in your way.

You bought guns for security, but they only made you and others  less safe, you read the bible cover to cover, not realizing that much of it is the polar opposite to Christianity, you listen to hate radio ( I assume) you conclude that Obama is ruining the Country (the exact opposite of reality) and by listening to Pro-lifers you became a pro-deather –never realizing that pro-life is in fact pro-death. Perhaps you heard the great leaders of your party, Jeb, Rubio, Huckabee, Fiorina, Carson—  well all of them actually, spreading lies about abortion, about guns, about Obama about planned parenthood. Boy, listening to these solid politicians must make you even madder.

Now you have moved into a community where Planned Parenthood operates, where angels sing. The voices just must be real. They must be selling off baby parts, just like a butcher might sell off unwanted livers, hearts and bones to local pet owners. No women’s lives are being saved, why should they be saved if they enter a planned parenthood clinic for a pap test, breast cancer screening –these must be the devils spawn –for they cannot hear your voices, the voices yelling in plain sight, the very fabric of the Stupidparty noise machine.

How can you sit there doing nothing, with so many voices in your head. Virtually every stupidparty party leader claims that God is speaking to them, so logically he must be speaking to you also. All these voices, Limbaugh, God, Carson, God, Guns, Guns, God, Cruz, Huckabee, God –Stupidparty, Fox, Hannity, Jeb and  God, God, God, must act now, end of times—what is there to lose, all I have is hateful me, my hateful God and the hateful stupidparty band of brothers.

Tintinc982

A quote from some one at Liberaliscous – further explains the natural devolution of Stupidparty disciples

Anatomy of a reich-wing killer – A billionaire funds dark groups to create fake videos and lies to spread to their followers on fake news outlets they own. Their economic victims, usually alone losers unhappy with their lives, watch and come to believe others are to blame for their lot in life. Their church and TV tell them to hate those not like them and for security they horde guns, becoming more angry and afraid. Because they are so fearful and confused they might turn to a doctor that pumps drugs into them making them more unstable. The cycle continues, more propaganda, more hate and more drugs causing deeper mental issues until the loser snaps on others instead of taking his own life. The NRA provides the means, the politicians and media provide the hate and fear, and the combination of mind altering drugs provides the lack of control that sets these killers off. Germany used to remove boys from their mothers at an early age to mold them into killing machines using many of these same techniques. Whenever one of these GOP time-bombs goes off in our country, the dots are never connected, it’s swept under the rug and so it continues. When history repeats itself we must be vigilant to stop it early. Notice the signs, many are trolling liberal pages now spewing hate and lies, growing more and more unstable everyday. I have seen them up close and personal. This is why I have never revealed myself on this site and ban often, the lunatic fringe is out there and the GOP did build this even if they don’t want the credit!

Good Night Stupidparty

Let’s celebrate the holiday season, let’s take the Stupidparty out of Christmas— it is time to help Stupidparty disciples get some sleep.

Celebrations are endless and limitless if we have the spirit and of course the money! But, to earn the money the paths are limited. You can either quit one job for another or work in part-time for another lesser pay or start a business which will surely take time to settle and reap benefits until then struggle!

Life can be regarded as a cycle of ups and downs, as we are always on a ride; sometimes happy and sometimes sad!! But, what if we said you that there is another unexplored way to earn money, to make your life better!

Definitely would be interested right? But, there are few who after reading on, would go back to square one still struggling! The reason is that they think it’s a scam, a hoax method and so on! Well, we would suggest you take an experience and then talk because the experience would tell you that it’s not fake!

The way is, crypto trading!! Yes, the same bitcoin and Ethereum currencies that have made the world turn into a gallery of earnings in just a span of time, in just 5-7 years! The earnings are not as small as in stock trading, but they are close to 85-95% of investment!

There are many platforms that help you in starting with crypto trading, but not all are genuine. So be careful while choosing your platform. The best ones can be researched and then based on personal intuition, it can be started. There are various mixed reviews too on the internet, but they said it all without experience, there are only few who have experienced such online trading platforms. They will surely have a positive response, from the system; as the system is developed with lots of efforts and after thorough valuation and considering all factors. The algorithms that go behind are very sophisticated and are extremely accurate.

This stocking stuffer will make the perfect holiday gift for any of your Stupidparty family members. Now remember some might now be having gender orientation issues, so get them to kick off their high heels, shave their legs (beards) and take a walk on the wild side this holiday season. Turn off Fox this Christmas,  have fun and harmony around the family meals. Make sure all guns are unloaded before Santa makes his rounds.

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23 Reasons Why Iowans need to be Spanked Until they are 50 Shades of Red, White and Blue

23 Reasons Why Iowans need to be Spanked Until they are 50 Shades of Red, White and Blue Picture

Iowa, Iowa, Iowa; that is all we are going to hear from here on. Every politician is running around Iowa as if their lives depended on it. This will not cease until Election Day. I live in New York, as do 20,000,000 others. Iowa has a population of 3,000,000, 91 percent of whom are white. But does any national politician give a damn about the views of New Yorkers? Yes, they come to New York City, but only to collect money, which they use to go to Iowa to buy Iowan votes.

When it comes to Iowa, politicians are advised to undertake the “The Full Grassley” (named after Iowa Senator Grassley), i.e. to visit each of the state’s 99 districts. Rick SaPicturentorum has already completed his first lap and the race to the bottom has barely begun – Walker had planned to do the same before he pulled out.

 

Iowa has three key magnets: 1) Giving your opponents a good hiding in the Iowa Primary can be a launching pad for any presidential hopeful; 2) Iowa is a key swing state – that means politicians must bend over backwards to submit themselves to the whims of the Iowa voters; 3) Iowa is a small state, so prostituting oneself can be done, on the come.

So what do Iowans get in return for their submissiveness? As it happens, rather a lot:

We the taxpayers gave Iowa over $25 billion in farm subsidies from 1995–2012. Iowa gets significantly more (about 100 percent more) farm subsidies than half of the country combined—which is able to live with far less. So the Government is wet nursing the Iowans. These twenty states get less combined in farm subsidies than Iowa does all by itself.

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So what do we the taxpayers get in return for our generosity? A thank you note maybe? Iowans must love us right? No! Actually, all we get is a kick in the balls. If only it was just that, we also get something far worse.

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We get Joni Ernst, possibly the most vile and idiotic senator in the country. Is Senator Ernst a small fry from a small state? Absolutely not, as I will soon explain.

By voting for Joni Ernst, Iowans are abusing everyone else from their ivory tower of undeserved power. Here are 23 reasons why Iowans need to be spanked; 23 policy ideas, falsehoods, and twofaced agendas promoted by Iowa’s Joni Ernst.

  1. She supportsa “personhood” amendment that could make all abortions illegal and endanger birth control and in vitro fertilization.
  2. She has called forPresident Barack Obama’s impeachment.
  3. She would supportlegislation that would allow “local law enforcement to arrest federal officials attempting to implement [Obamacare].”
  4. She thinks states should be free to nullifyfederal laws.
  5. Ernst has proposedeliminating the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Education, and the Environmental Protection Agency as a means of cutting federal spending.
  6. Ernst has expressedher support for allowing law-abiding citizens to “freely carry” weapons.
  7. She carries a“beautiful little Smith & Wesson, 9 millimeter,” in her purse in part to protect her “from the government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important.”
  8. She buys into the conspiracy theory that the United Nations’ “Agenda 21” is a secret plan to usurp democracy.
  9. She suggested that an international cabal would relocate her constituents to Des Moines
  10. She told the Des Moines Register editorial board in May that the United States really did find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
  11. She has spoken in favor of privatizing Social Security and waxed nostalgic about the time, before food stamps, when “wonderful food pantries” took care of the poor.
  12. She is opposed to a federal minimum wage and has said that $7.25 an hour suffices for Iowans.
  13. On the subject of global warming, Ernst has stated: “I don’t know the science behind climate change.” (This is Koch code designed to hinder any actions on the issue)
  14. She co-sponsored a failed bill to amend the Iowa constitution to have marriage legally defined as between one man and one woman. She opposes same-sex marriage.
  15. She had been active with one of the most nefarious groups in the USA – the highly secretive and Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council.
  16. Despite her clear history of close association with the Koch brothers, Joni Ernst claims she doesn’t have any contact with outside groups running ads in her race.
  17. She is a Koch puppet. According to The Hill, the Kochs took a “particular interest in helping her campaign.” Ernst was the first candidate in an open 2014 Senate race to benefit from “maxed out” personal contributions by the Kochs. And Koch-backed groups such as Americans for Prosperity and the Freedom Partners Action Fund poured millions of dollars into Iowa, where Ernst enjoyed a $14 million outside-spending advantage over Braley.
  18. Koch Puppet: Last June, Ernst told attendees at a secret Koch donor summit in Dana Point, California that, although she started as “a little-known state senator from a very rural part of Iowa,” it was “the exposure to this group and to this network and the opportunity to meet so many of you, that really started my trajectory.”
  19. Ernst told business leaders in Des Moines who complained about negative ads run by Koch groups, “that she doesn’t have any contact with outside groups running ads in her race.” This is a lie— listen to the below audio.
  20. The report pointed out that Ernst frequently reminded voters, and now constituents, of her combat veteran status, and she has not corrected others when they suggest she led troops into battle. Ernst did not lead her troops into combat as one of the ads supporting her claims. Her troops were not combat personnel, and their mission was not a combat one. Essentially, she was in charge of a group of truck drivers. I am sure that the mission of supply delivery had many potential hazards, but driving trucks from one secure area to another secure area is not combat, even if personnel were armed with M-16s.
  21. Col. Joni Ernst, the junior senator from Iowa, is a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard. As such, she is bound by the Iowa State Code of Military Justice. Her signing of the seditious letter to Iran is a clear and direct violation of Chapter 29B.85 of the Iowa State Code of Military Justice.
  22. Attempting to defund Planned Parenthood.
  23. Hypocrisy: Ernst’s dad, Richard Culver, was given $14,705 in conservation payments and $23,690 in commodity subsidies by the federal government. Richard’s brother Dallas Culver benefited from $367,141 in federal agricultural aid, with over $250,000 geared toward corn subsidies. Old Granddad Harold Culver received $57,479 from Washington—again, mostly corn subsidies—between 1995 and 2001.

Now, to be fair to the Iowans, I have been avoiding the big elephant in the room. People vote for Joni Ernst because big money is effectively buying their votes and suckering their minds. And boy does money talk. Ernst is nothing but a Koch stooge, and they simply cannot find decent people to do their bidding. As Stupidparty presidential aspirants make their endless haj to Iowa, they first must navigate the stampede to Wall Street money, and then go off to the Iowan kingmakers — this time around they must all pay homage to Bruce Rastetter and others before engaging in the pretense of actually giving a damn about the voters to Iowa. The wealthiest Iowans are the guys who have figured out how to profit from the concept of big agriculture, and these guys are the Godfathers of the Stupidparty in Iowa. There is currently an agricultural land bubble with such land selling for $15,000- $20,000 an acre, creating many millionaires (out of speculators, existing and retiring farmers) but also exacerbating income discrepancy. Iowa had one of the fastest growths of millionaires last year, according to one study. Income distributions had been relatively equal in Iowa in the past, but the shift to more extreme highs and lows could bring negative consequences unless policymakers take action.

These nouveau profits are driven by federal tax subsidies, and God forbid that they share this undeserved and corrupt good fortune – but no, Iowa has some of the most regressive tax rates in the nation.

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Even though Iowa has a low unemployment rate 400,000 Iowans still live below the poverty line—that’s 13 percent of the state. Who do you think picks up the tab for providing assistance to those in need? Those employees of big companies on or close to minimum wage, who though working full time cannot afford a roof over their heads, food on the table, possibly working while injured or un well— who do you think picks up the tab? Do you think the billionaires and GOP sugar corn daddies Dennis Alburgh, Harry Stine and mini oligarch Bruce Rastetter are picking up any tabs for the rotten fruits of their efforts?Picture

Small states are relatively easy to corrupt because even though all these visiting politicians say that they are listening to the voters, they are not. They are listening to their asset stripping backers. Coal, oil, and big agriculture control the political power centers of many small states. The ten states listed below have only 6.2 percent of the country’s population but 40 percent of the country’s senatorial political power. Iowans, having already been stripped of their land, see their state resources being stripped as well, but have unwittingly entered into a Faustian bargain. They get to keep their jobs, subsidized by sums received from the country’s taxpayers, and we the asset strippers get to reap all the profits.

The federal taxpayers are simply putting their money straight into these guys’ pockets, whether through farm subsidies or the resulting land price bubble, and then having to help clean up the social consequences of their myopic greed. This is similar to what you, the taxpayer, do every time your state government uses taxpayer money to help finance a major league sports tournament. In virtually every case these funds go into the pockets of billionaires who, rather than actually working for a living, are simply mooching off the taxpayers. So meet the real moochers. If you do not like government waste, then this taxpayer funded corporate welfare should at the top of your list. Make government better by being less wasteful, and stop tolerating politicians who are motivated and corrupted to support bad government.

Now this is the beautiful thing – we the taxpayers and the people of Iowa have a convergence of interests. The thing about Faustian deals is that there is a price to be paid. And Iowans are in grave danger of having to pay the piper. What was at the top (pish) is heading for the bottom. The vast majority of Iowans are beginning to suffer (relatively) speaking at an accelerating rate. Government largess is not intended to support elective, impoverishing, unsafe hobbies and it is not meant to support perverted logic. It can no longer keep up with the amounts being pilfered and asset stripped out of your state, into the pockets of the very few. Surrendering to mythical logic might bring a night of bliss, but you may never be able to sit down comfortably again.

It is time to scream, while you still have your safety word. RED! For stop! For soon the sadist will get so lathered up that they will not be able to hear the masochist scream, “I want my life back.”  So if you are Iowan, if you have any ethics, any sense of decency or logic, you must order your safety recall. Untie yourself from Joni Ernst and her agenda, and whip your brains back from entering a black hole.

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Satire: The Birther-in-(Wannabe)Chief – Trump’s Most Uninformed Statements

The most recent Republican debate highlighted one of Trump’s biggest problems as a candidate: he’s uninformed. When asked a question about the TPP, Trump proceeded to slam China’s currency manipulation and other issues with China’s international economic policy. After concluding his point, Rand pointed out that China was not a member of the TPP. For what seemed to be the first time ever, Trump curled into the proverbial fetal position, and stayed mum. It was so bad that even his hair tried to escape.

Trump’s inability to answer an ostensibly simple question about the TPP had us wondering: what else does Trump not know? After some thorough research, Stupidparty Math v. Myth discovered some other glaring ignorant Trump moments.

1. During a meeting with John Boehner, Trump told Boehner that his frightening orange hue was definitely a result of drinking too much Orange Kist and Stoli.

2. Pressed by a reporter on how a bill is passed in Congress, Trump quickly pulled out his iPhone 6 and played the School House Rock video “I’m Just a Bill.” The reporter than pressed him on procedure. Infuriated, Trump blurted “why do I have to explain to you how a bill passes through Congress? The video makes it clear: a living piece of paper named Bill who sings like Barry White is responsible for passing all legislation. Duh.”

3. On the campaign trail, Trump was asked about his approach to combatting infectious diseases such as Ebola: “Ebola? Come on. You know how you beat Ebola? With success and strength. When I’m president, I’m going to walk up to Ebola and tell it to get lost. If Ebola doesn’t listen, I will lift up my $5000 Gucci shoes and squish it like a bug. In fact…that should be my campaign slogan: ‘Trump 2016: Squishing America’s Problems like a Bug.’ Damn I’m brilliant.”

4. During an appearance on the Today Show, Matt Lauer asked Trump about whether or not he believed in Climate Change. Trump simply smirked, and said the following: “Look. If you didn’t know already, I’m the boss of the universe. Let me ask you a question – do you know an old, white Deity that floats around in the sky? That guy works for me. You know how? I bought up his stocks in Christianity. That’s how great businessmen work. After the buyout, I told God he must eliminate all carbon emissions as soon as he starts working as part of my administration. So yes, answering your question – is the climate changing as a result of human activity? Possibly. But you can be assured I’m going to have an amazing team that can solve this issue on day one. Come on! How can you not win with God in your cabinet?”

5. In a radio interview on XM, Trump was asked about his solution to gun violence: “What we need is for every citizen to be armed. I’m talking moms and dads; grandmas and grandpas; single men and women; teenagers; toddlers; infants; and yes, even fetuses. Everyone needs to be armed. As a matter of fact, every living thing within the United States should be permitted to purchase a firearm. You know what would be HUUUUGE? Extending Second Amendment rights to animals. If a duck-billed platypus wants to own a Desert Eagle .50, then it should be able to buy it. If evil sharks want to purchase laser beams that they can attach to their frickin’ heads – so be it! If every living being is armed, shootings will cease. The more guns, the more safety. Just look at Nazi Germany! If the Jews had weapons, then Nazi forces would have simply left them alone. We need smart people like me. I’m Hawking smart, minus the wheelchair and 1980s prototypical computer voice. Actually, I’m sharper – I can literally see black holes. ”

Donald Trump is fast replacing Sarah Palin as the Stupidest of the Stupidparty.

President Obama: This Is An Attack On All Of Humanity

Please welcome our latest ally in the fight against all round misinformation. The Newscorpse website that focuses on the the Murdoch media empire of an Australian oligarch  who has done more harm to America in the last twenty years than any other person that I can think of. GO USA!  So ironic. As I try and get to grips with why  there is so much absurdity and outright bigotry in society today -clearly the media shares a great deal of the blame. The main culprit is obviously Fox, but really they are all at it. I believe that about 85% of the Media are owned by  six large Companies—but even supposed independents such as the New York Times can sometimes do a lousy job. There is no left wing bias in the media – there is just the right wing media and then the crazy right wing media -who basically have virtually no real journalists working for them. If you recieve your pay check from Roger Ailes – I truly do not understand how you can be considered a professional journalsist. Any way I have devoted a section of my website to such misinformation – but when it comes to  News Corp—no body does it better than News Corpse

Guest post by Mark NC from News Corpse:

The world watches stunned as yet another horrific act of terrorism is carried out that senselessly takes the lives of innocent people. The city of Paris is in shock as it struggles to recover and to understand the nature of a lethal and elusory enemy. And decent people worldwide are united in sympathy, concern, and determination to prevail over evil.

President Obama expressed the condolences of the American people in statement (video below) that was heartfelt while recognizing the difficulties of the tasks that lie ahead. He said that “This is an attack not just on Paris, it’s an attack not just on the people of France, but this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values that we share.”

The truth of that statement is reflected in the nearly unanimous agreement from national leaders around the world such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel who said that this “Attack on freedom was not only meant for Paris, it is against all of us.” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Jaber Ansari condemned attacks saying that “Those terrorist groups that committed the Paris crimes do not believe in ethical principles and they are not loyal to any type of divine religions — including Islam.”

There was, however, a notable exception. Rupert Murdoch, the CEO and Chairman of the parent corporation of Fox News, explicitly contradicted the President and others in a tweet saying that the “Paris outrage not an attack on all humanity, but an attack on us. ie, Western civilisation!”

Rupert Murdoch does not view the Paris attacks as an attack on all of humanity, as is understood by virtually all world leaders, but on Western civilization

Paris Bombings: Now the Penny Is Dropping, a Once in a Lifetime Opportunity

This will serve as an update to what I wrote back in October:

The days of ISIS (in terms of holding territory and securing funds from those territories) are numbered – they are on the fast track to their final destination. Speaking of which, please vote in our poll (right column) to help mankind determine the location of such destination: Poll pending – will be up soon.

Where should the ISIS Caliphate be located? Here are 4 ideas.

So having gotten that off my chest, here is what is happening right now

  1. The Russian campaign lost it’s glitter. But they are on the ground and have slightly strengthened Assad, which I was indicating would happen, and I believed was a necessary interim measure in order to checkmate ISIS.
  2. The Kurd’s have successfully advanced in Syria cutting off a major supply road.
  3. The Allies have been bombing locations to make it far harder for ISIS to raise revenues.
  4. Drones have taken out various top ISIS leaders.
  5. Russian futility creates an interesting dynamic for Putin: a) his strategy is not working, as predicted by Obama; but b) he cannot afford to lose face and c) Russia simply does not have the money (as discussed below) to achieve Putin’s original intentions.
  6. Russian airliner taken down by ISIS.
  7. Beirut bombing by ISIS.
  8. French bombings by ISIS.

So out of the above tragedies we have a tremendous opportunity. I can never remember, in the history of warfare, when 99.99% of the world’s population had the opportunity to come together on a single cause. Now we have such an opportunity to create something special. All we have to do is to allow critical thinking to run its course and to ignore Stupidparty talk and its divisiveness at a time when unity, to an extent never witnessed before, is now with in our grasp. The ISIS problem can be as unifying to mankind as the threat of a cataclysmic Earth bound asteroid. The US had an opportunity almost as great back in 2001, but the Bush team was more interested in behaving like war criminals than in actually conducting a war against terrorism. As a result, they created the mess we find ourselves in today.

Diagram of terrorists relative to total Muslim population of 1.6 billion.

It looks like the penny is dropping

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“Antalya (Turkey) (AFP) – US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed on Sunday on the need for UN-sponsored peace talks and a ceasefire to resolve years of war in Syria, a White House official said. The two leaders spoke during a short and unannounced summit meeting over a coffee table on the margins of a G20 summit in the Turkish resort of Antalya. “President Obama and President Putin agreed on the need for a Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political transition, which would be preceded by UN-mediated negotiations between the Syrian opposition and regime as well a ceasefire,” the official told reporters after the meeting.”

The pieces of the puzzle gradually fitting into place:

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The one thing we must not do:

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But while these mental midgets try and arouse the stupid with in us -the actual pieces of the real puzzle carry on falling into place:

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This is what I wrote back on Oct 17th wherein I provided a road map—the moment that I felt that I had spotted a light at the end of the tunnel. Below I refer to the Iranians, Russians et al. taking Aleppo. This may no longer be a necessity assuming Obama and Putin can have a constructive dialogue.

ISIS You Lose. What should the Punishment be?

This will soon be hitting the news media. I have made it quite plain for the last months, more stridently in the last few weeks, that ISIS is doomed—that they will be meeting their maker a bit faster than even I have been predicting. My most recent absolute prediction and explanation was posted just the other day here. If you are an ISIS fighter in Syria, it is time to shave off your beard and play dumber. Tough I know, but no one will be shedding any tears.

Putin has clearly planned for this event meticulously and he has a morally free hand (by not being moral or answerable for his lack of morality) but he is also in financial handcuffs. So Putin will win initially, but he will lose the slightly longer game vis-a-vis his imperialistic ambitions. Obama has him cornered.

ISIS is now surrounded by all those who oppose it.

The Background:

So this is the game: ISIS is hated by everyone, they have conquered mainly desert and some desperate communities, using resources and skills handed to them by the Bush regime, having not only disenfranchised the Iraqi Sunni Military leaders, but exposing them to the determinedly anti-Sunni Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki. Since this Bush era miscalculation (leaving a side that the Iraq War was illegal, based upon deception), Obama was finally able to use the meltdown in Iraq to oust Maliki. If you want the best explanation of how we arrived at this point—well as it happens I have it—I would like to thank Khalid Nurredin, Las Vegas singer/songwriter and political blogger, for this brilliantly poignant, concise, and educational explanation:

OK, people, Here’s the big thing most people miss about ISIS; prior to the invasion, they were just a bunch of goat herders with AK47s, preaching the Wahabist gospel. Then Bush/Cheney had the bright idea of disbanding the Iraq army, firing all the Sunni officers, denying them their pensions, banning the Sunni Baath party from the elections, and telling them they couldn’t even vote. Then Bush/Cheney hand-picked idiot Maliki, who kicked all the Jews, Sunnis, Kurds, Agnostics, and Atheists out of the government, hiring only Shiites. Then he tells Obama that any remaining American troops will have to operate under Sharia, and Obama says no. Meanwhile, the Iran/Iraq/Syria oil pipeline is announced, with financial backing from Russia, China, and South Korea.

The Sunni monarchies hire ISIS, the Taliban, and Al-Qaeda to topple Assad, whom they consider the weakest link in the Shiite pipeline. The Qataris purchase Khadafy’s weaponry and ship it to ISIS. ISIS starts killing Christians, Jews, Sunnis, and religious minorities in Syria, Assad breaks out the WMDs, and the Taliban and Al-Qaeda quit the fight, saying ISIS is NUTS. ISIS flees to Iraq, where all those unemployed Sunni officers and government employees take the monarchies’ money and train ISIS into a real fighting force: 800 ISIS fighters defeat 5,000 Shiite Iraqi troops and take all the equipment we gave them when the Shiites run in terror . . . which brings us back to where we are today. You can’t blame this mess on anyone but Bush/Cheney.

The Battleground Today:

So, as we speak, Iranian and Hezbollah troops are on the ground and will soon take Aleppo. This, Syria’s largest city and its commercial center is presently held by the rebels. From Russia and Iran’s perspective you can not expect to get progress in the region until Assad’s regime has first been strengthened. The West should quietly accept that efforts to remove Assad have not only failed but helped create not only the quagmire, but also the refugee crisis.  Assad however remains a war criminal and efforts to remove him will not have to cease, but should be postponed. For three reasons, the Russians can probably be persuaded to deal with Assad later. 1) the West accepting that Syria will remain a Russian ally and 2) with the application of future sanctions on Syria combined with 3) a lessening of sanctions on Russia, as Russia also starts backing down on Ukraine. The reasons for Russia’s acquiescence were discussed in my prior blog. Thus, the Russian bombings have not only cleared the path, by weakening the rebel positions—but will allow the Assad forces to advance in sync with the Iranians and with Hezbollah (who are based in Lebanon and allied with the Iranians.)  Meanwhile about sixty other countries are assisting American, UN and now Russian coordinated efforts including virtually all the Arab Counties, whether they be Sunni or Shiite, including the Turks and the Kurds. When has there ever been such a overwhelming loathing for such a truly loathable group.

Virtually every country is against the threat of ISIS

Victory Ground:

Personally I feel that fighters returning to their home countries should have their citizenship revoked and returned a new ISIS homeland—a few thousand acres in the middle of the Sahara, with water and basics and certain textbooks flown in, depending on exam results. This to last until they realize that prayer will not set them free—only critical thinking can. So until they can get a degree in one of the sciences they will be stuck at their desks basking in the desert. If this strategy works we can bring the same concept into the red states, the Stupidparty States, as a pre-condition to receiving further  federal government subsidies to state governments that wantonly torpedo their economies to make childish and incorrect assertions. Government does not have to be bad – trickle down is far less effective than trickle up. Ignorance and bigotry harm the economy and blue states should stop subsidizing this madness.

But sadly, we have a chicken and egg situation, for unless Stupidparty disciples can be encouraged to realize that they are also devoid of critical thinking, it makes it that much harder to impose such remedies. Since we in the US accept mythical thinking, we can not really lecture others—therefore many of these fleeing ISIS fighters will find themselves thrust back into modern society, but remain un-remorseful, because modern society is far from rational itself—because evidently every one is allowed to have an opinion, even when such opinion can be proved wrong, can be shown to lead to massive unnecessary poverty, disease, misery and death. Stupidity, myopic myth based cultures begets terrorism.

ISIS will be pushed out under pressure from Russia, the U.S. and the U.N.