Friday, January 30, 2015

Remember when? Free Press

Remember when, or if not from personal memory, from the lessons of history, the bad old days of the propaganda mouthpieces, Izvestia and Pravda?

Pravda was the mouthpiece of the Communist Party in the old Soviet Union; then old drunk Russian president Boris Yeltsin seized it and sold it off to a Greek family after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. In 1997, the Communist Party in Russia bought it back. The Communist party celebrated the 100th anniversary of Pravda in 2012. They were always more of a propaganda print media organ, than a legitimate new organization.

Izvestia had been the official propaganda newspaper of the Soviet Union from 1917 to 1991. After that it was bought up by an oligarch with 'close ties to the government'. Then in 2005, it changed hands again and has operated to 2008, under the ownership of Gazprom, returning to more direct state ownership again. (Gazprom is state owned, for those who don't track such things.) In 2008, Gazprom sold off Izvestia, per the BBC report on Russia media in 2013, back into the oligarch orbit/ control of Vlad Putin:
In May 2008, Gazprom sold its majority stake on to the SOGAZ insurance company. SOGAZ is part of a group controlled by the St Petersburg-based Bank Rossiya, whose co-owner, Yuriy Kovalchuk, is widely reported to be a close associate of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
 What happened to Pravda? From the same BBC piece:
Since then, it has built its reputation on a gentle nostalgia for the Soviet period, firm backing for Kremlin policy and a keen interest in celebrity news and scandal from home and abroad. Russian energy group YeSN emerged as the newspaper's largest shareholder in 2007, buying up stock from the Prof-Media holding company and the Norwegian media group A-Pressen.
Both Pravda and Izvestia are still publishing, pretty much whatever they're told to publish, with whatever spin the party or government, sometimes the same thing, sometimes less so, direct them to propagandize.

Add to that the government owned Rossiyskaya Gazeta,the 'new' officially, openly government owned daily, which started up in 1990 when the Soviet Union dissolved. Again per the BBC:
Rossiyskaya Gazeta is Russia's main government-owned newspaper. It was set up by the Russian government in 1990, before the collapse of the Soviet Union, and remains fully government-owned. The paper is authorised to publish all new laws in full, at which point the legislation enters into force. Despite its affiliation, it has been known to voice criticism of ministerial policy. The paper's managing director has in the past dismissed the widely-held view that it is the official government organ, instead describing it as an "independent media outlet". According to surveys quoted on the paper's internet site, its readers are "well-balanced adults, inclined to adopt conservative views".
Sound familiar? Conservative AND well balanced, where have we seen that claim  here in the west?

We know from observing right wing media, where they just make up stuff.....that rhymes with rift and miffed, that conservative views seem to go well with propaganda.

So it should come as no surprise in the list of government owned and operated press, that Governor and possible presidential wannabe Mike Pence wanted his own India Izvestia, up until it got too much attention from the real 4th estate. Because hey, the current right wing nuts all love Putin, who has his own tame media outlet, so why not take a page from his play book?

Apparently lovin' all over Putin is ok, but imitating Stalin with tax $$$ still gets you the stink-eye.

From the paper that broke the story, the appropriately named IndyStar:
The Indianapolis Star broke the news of plans to begin a state-run news outlet late Monday. Planning documents obtained by The Star spoke of having press secretaries write "stories" and having the "news service" compete with other, independent media outlets on stories.

The plan quickly became the object of ridicule across the nation, drawing comparisons to state-run media in countries such as North Korea and China. Some outlets dubbed the Pence news service "Pravda on the Plains."

Pence and his staff slowly walked back the idea throughout the week before Pence finally pulled the plug Thursday. Pence went on conservative talk radio Wednesday to attempt to distance himself from the plan but was pressed by host Greg Garrison to say he would reject any state-run news service his staff built.

Meanwhile, Pence's communications staff, which crafted the plan, attempted to allay concern among Statehouse reporters in an odd, sometimes emotional meeting that worked as one part counseling session and another part press briefing. Toward the end of the session, Pence communications director Christy Denault said that use of terms such as "managing editor" and "news stories" had been poor "shorthand" on their part and promised that they were not creating a state news service.
Of course, the problem with this statement, that Pence et al were NOT attempting to create a state news service is that all the documents show that was EXACTLY what they were doing, AND that despite denials, Pence knew about it and apparently both approved and initiated the concept. You know -- lying. Because that is what propaganda is, carefully constructed lies to obscure the truth. It is also consistent with an administration that is NOT transparent, and does NOT allow press access, that they would simply want to create their own in-house propaganda machine so they could exclude other media as much as possible.

The latest IndyStar reporting continued:
Denault also insisted that the JustIN plan was only in a draft form and that she had always planned to reach out to Indiana media and news organizations for their input on the idea.

But the documents that were circulated among state agency press staff last week had the feel of a finished product - with a style guide that included branding and story-formatting guidelines. JustIN Managing Editor Bill McCleery, a former Indianapolis Star reporter, asked press staff to submit two "evergreen stories" each by Feb. 6, to be ready for a late-February rollout of the news service.

Pence's proposal drew criticism from the left and right throughout the week.

Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, prodded Pence throughout the week, saying that he had ordered Russian translation software for the rollout of the new Pence news service. Bosma did get serious in his weekly news conference and said that Pence's JustIN brand had been damaged so badly that it had to go.

"He absolutely made the right decision here. It was branded at this point and needed to go away," Bosma said.

Democrats, who had tried earlier in the day to defund the project through a legislative maneuver, cheered the move Thursday but asked why Pence waited so long.

"What resulted was several days' worth of ridicule for our state from all sectors," said House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City.

The Pence news service story also unearthed longstanding frustrations over a lack of access for Indiana reporters with an administration that often promised improved transparency. Pence communications staff often brush off questions for reporters' stories throughout a typical day and then seek "corrections" after stories are published.

The Society of Professional Journalists, which had put Pence on notice earlier in the week, announced some relief Thursday that he had ditched the idea but said underlying problems of access would need to be addressed.

"In addition to improved access to press releases and notices, it's the Society's hope that journalists have unrestricted access to all public officials and employees," SPJ Ethics Chairman Andrew Seaman said in a statement. "Open communication between officials and journalists is an important step toward an enlightened citizenry, which the Society considers as the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy."


Tully: Mike Pence's horrible idea


Swarens: Governor, kill the Pence "News" Agency now


Pence: I learned about state-run media in Star report


Pence state-run news outlet will compete with media

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Daily Show Takes on Fear of Feminizing vs Male Rudeness and Entitlement

Remember when? Right wing Putin Loving

Over the past summer and fall months leading up to the 2014 elections there were endless examples of the right wing nuttery carrying on and on and on about how great a leader Russia’s Vlad Putin was.

He made quick decisions, he got things done, blah blah blah.   Why couldn’t No-Drama-Obama be more like Putin, blah blah blah.

We saw the Obama-bashing Putin-praising from the whole range of right wing media and punditry, including the Popsie Palin:

And that ‘the real leaders get it done’ line was then used to prop up the failures of Republicans, like Christie using it to promote Republican governors, who really do NOT have a good track record of accomplishment. It was the 2014 THEME du campaign.

From a CNN interview:
CHAIRMAN OF THE REPUBLICAN GOVERNORS ASSOCIATION, GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-New Jersey): You have Bruce Rauner win in Illinois, Charlie Baker win in Massachusetts, and Larry Hogan win in Maryland, that’s a really good night for Republicans to win in those blue states, and as a blue state governor myself, and as a Republican, I was particularly gratified.
CNN: So, to what do you attribute that success particularly in the blue states for governors?
CHRISTIE: Well, I think that they’ve seen Republican leadership in other states, and it’s been enormously effective. We had a lot of folks last night who said a lot of Republican incumbents were going to lose, but Rick Scott won in Florida, Rick Snyder in Michigan, Scott Walker won in Wisconsin. So I think they saw — they like governors who get things done and you saw that across the country. If you’re a governor who gets things done, the voters rewarded you.
But here’s the thing; NONE of those leaders, not Putin, not the Republican governors, are ‘getting things done’, or at least, not getting things done WELL, that benefit their respective jurisdictions.

Not a peep about Putin’s great leadership out of Popsie Palin while she was rambling along incoherently in Iowa, warming up crowds of the indifferent to her intention to run for president in 2016.

Wonder why that was?

Could it be because like the many downgrades of state credit ratings under right wing nut bullying leadership, Russia just had their credit rating reduced to JUNK status? All while Obama is basking in higher approval ratings (double those of Republicans, double those of Congress) and while Obama is getting well deserved credit for GOOD economic outcomes under his less-confrontational more-measured leadership?

Here’s what you WON’T hear from the whole range of right wingers, from Christie and the more serious RWNJs, to the totally foolish Palin. That style of leadership is all macho shine without substance; it’s bluff and bravado. Bottom line hard reality: it’s rubbish, it is ineffective, it produces negative outcomes; it is nothing but bullshit and bullying to look tough and to fake competence they don’t have.

From Bloomberg:

Russia Credit Rating Is Cut to Junk by S&P for the First Time in a Decade

(Bloomberg) — Russia’s foreign-currency credit rating was cut to junk by Standard & Poor’s, putting it below investment grade for the first time in a decade as policy makers struggle to keep economic growth alive amid sanctions and falling oil prices.
S&P, which last downgraded Russia in April, cut the sovereign one step to BB+, according to a statement released on Monday, the same level as countries including Bulgaria and Indonesia. The ratings firm said the outlook is “negative.” Russian stocks declined and bonds fell for a second day following the announcement, which came after the close of equity trading in Moscow.
The world’s biggest energy exporter is on the brink of a recession after oil prices fell to the lowest since 2009 and the U.S. and its allies imposed sanctions over President Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine. The penalties have locked Russian corporate borrowers out of international debt markets and curbed investor appetite for the ruble, stocks and bonds.
“Russia’s monetary-policy flexibility has become more limited and its economic growth prospects have weakened,” S&P said in the statement. “We also see a heightened risk that external and fiscal buffers will deteriorate due to rising external pressures and increased government support to the economy.”
Ruble, Stocks
The ruble, which has weakened 19 percent against the dollar since S&P first put Russia’s rating on review on Dec. 23, gained 1.4 percent at 2:18 p.m. in Moscow, after closing Monday at a record 68.799. The dollar-denominated RTS Index of stocks fell 0.8 percent following Monday’s 4.8 percent decline. The yield on five-year government debt climbed 16 basis points to 15.41 percent.
Some investors are prevented from owning debt rated speculative grade. Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings still have Russia as investment grade.
“The ruble weakened only modestly as the market anticipated such a decision following an explicit warning from the rating agency at the end of December,” Piotr Matys, an emerging-market strategist at Rabobank International in London, said by e-mail. “The odds that a full-scale financial crisis could unfold in the coming months has increased, given that S&P’s decision will undermine the Bank of Russia’s efforts to stabilize the ruble.”
“We believe that Russia’s financial system is weakening and therefore limiting the central bank of Russia’s ability to transmit monetary policy,” S&P said. “The central bank faces increasingly difficult monetary policy decisions while also trying to support sustainable GDP growth.”
Russia’s wealth funds are “puny” given the challenges the economy is facing, S&P’s head of sovereign ratings Moritz Kraemer told Bloomberg TV Tuesday. Increased interest rates may prevent capital outflow, which reached $151.5 billion in 2014, he said. That compares with $61 billion of outflows a year earlier.
While policy makers spent $88 billion in interventions last year to prop up the currency, President Vladimir Putin last month scolded the regulator for not reacting to the crisis more quickly. The central bank replaced its head of monetary policy in January, selecting Dmitry Tulin to take on Ksenia Yudaeva’s role in the biggest leadership change since Governor Elvira Nabiullina took charge in June 2013.
Fitch Ratings and Moody’s Investors Service both downgraded Russia to their lowest investment grades this month.
Investors often disregard ratings companies’ credit grade and outlook changes. France’s 10-year yield, which was 3.08 percent when S&P removed its top rating in January 2012, tumbled to a record-low 1.339 percent on Aug. 15 this year.
“The trend of deteriorating ratings is more important than the rating cut itself,” Aleksei Belkin, chief investment officer at Kapital Asset Management LLC in Moscow, said by e-mail. “The cut was rather widely expected and for all practical purposes was well telegraphed and discounted. I am afraid we will see more selling, not panic selling, but positions will be trimmed again.”
It’s not just Russia. All those Republican policy states, with Republican policy leadership — they’re in the giant governance toilet just like Russia, going around and round and down.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Twenty-nine Years Ago Today

Tragedy struck the space shuttle program, with the explosion shortly after takeoff of the Challenger.

Please, take a moment to remember them, to think of them, and to honor their sacrifice for space exploration and science.

The Religious Right Is Rejoicing in the Stupid, AGAIN

Booby Jindal, Governor of Louisisana, came out asserting that the GOP shouldn't be the party of the stupid.

Remember two years ago, almost to the day in 2015, when sitting Louisiana governor Jindal and former Mississippi governor and RNC chair Haley Barbour whinged on about how the GOP, following on the 2012 losses, should stop being the stupid party?

From the Daily News:

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal tells GOP: ‘Stop being the stupid party.’ 

Jindal said 'offensive and bizarre comments' by some Republicans hurt the whole party. Haley Barbour, the former Mississippi governor and RNC chair, seconded Jindal's message on Friday.

“We’ve got to stop being the stupid party. It’s time for a new Republican Party that talks like adults,” he said. “We had a number of Republicans damage the brand this year with offensive and bizarre comments. I’m here to say we’ve had enough of that.”
Apparently, with the 2014 success at voter suppression resulting in low voter turnout, the GOP and of course their idiot step-child, the Tea Party, have returned to their real base, the stupid people.

Bobby Jindal wants to lead their parade of stupid as the grand marshal.

Why do I claim that?

Well, we have the claim by Jindal that there are Muslim no-go zones in Europe and the U.S.  (including claims of no-go zones in our own city of Minneapolis). 

That's been widely debunke;  even Fake News and Rupert the Racist and Bigot Murdoch have apologized for that claim.

But Booby Jindal doesn't stop there.  Oh, no -- he's got lots more stupid stored up for his 2016 presidential run.  For starters, he's repeating the appeal to the burning stupid made by fellow stupid southern conservative Rick Perry.  He's going for the prayer for stupid religious crowd.

from the HuffPo:
Let's start with the invitation, sent on Jindal's official state letterhead. "We are in need of spiritual and transforming revival," he wrote, "if we are to recapture the vision of our early leaders who signed on the Mayflower, 'In the name of God and for the advancement of the Christian faith.'" Leadership to solve the country's problems "will not come from a politician or a movement for social change," he wrote in this time civil rights movement anniversaries. So how will we solve our problems? "Jesus Christ, Son of God and the Lord of Life, is America's only hope." In a separate letter he wrote to the other 49 governors inviting them to his rally to pray for "spiritual revival" and "heaven's intervention" over the country. "There will only be one name lifted up that day -- Jesus!"
What does all this suggest to non-Christian Americans (including non-Christian governors) about how Jindal views their contributions? Jindal's letters reflect the attitudes of rally organizer David Lane, a political strategist who believes America was founded by and for Christians. The event was paid for by the American Family Association, whose chief spokesman, radio host Bryan Fischer, believes the First Amendment's religious liberty protections apply only to Christians.
The rally was also a showcase for the dominionist views of self-proclaimed "apostles" who promoted and spearheaded the event. One of those "apostles" was the event's emcee. Doug Stringer has called the 9/11 attacks "a wake-up call" that happened because God was not around to defend America due to abortion, homosexuality, and kicking God out of public schools. While introducing Jindal, Stringer made a brief mention of "Seven Mountains" theology, which states that all the "mountains" in society -- arenas like business, entertainment, and government -- must be led by the right kind of Christian. A later speaker, Gene Mills of the Louisiana Family Forum, spent more time on the "Seven Mountains." Mills said these spheres of influence belong to God but are currently occupied by the "enemy." They therefore need to be evangelized and "occupied by the body of Christ."
An aside for those who don't follow the different flavors of the crazy religious right; the seven mountains crowd have a heavy overlap with white supremacists.  There are many subsets of religious extremism here, ranging from the 7M's (seven mountains crowd) to the NARs, (New Apostlic Reformation) and other 'dominionists'.

Then you have some of the other crazies, like the Home-School promoting Rushdoonies.  They overlap libertarians as well They are convinced we are incapable of thinking, so -- hey, why bother with facts or reason.  Rushdoonies see us more as god's puppets than as reasoning beings with free will or intellect.  They WANT to keep everyone stupid.  They think Jesus likes it that way.
"As a theologian Rushdoony saw human beings as primarily religious creatures bound to God, not as rational autonomous thinkers. While this may seem an esoteric theological point, it isn't. All of Rushdoony's influence on the Christian Right stems from this single, essential fact. Many critics of Christian Reconstructionism assume that Rushdoony's unique contribution to the Christian Right was his focus on theocracy. In fact, Rushdoony's primary innovation was his single-minded effort to popularize a pre-Enlightenment, medieval view of a God-centered world. By de-emphasizing humanity's ability to reason independently of God, Rushdoony attacked the assumptions most of us uncritically accept."

While the same crowd holding a Rick Perry rally CLEARLY failed to get him elected, (which I would argue says their god is losing, using their own rational for success,) the religious righties came up with more that is deeply offensive.

From Right Wing Watch, back in 2011; (the 'Jacobs' referred to here is Cidy Jacobs, part of the recent Jindal event as well):
Jacobs claims that lands are cursed with violence because they were previously inhabited by Native Americans who “did blood sacrifice” and “were cannibals and they ate people.”

Fortunately, Jacobs maintains, Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s The Response prayer rally in Houston broke the curse and “the land is starting to rejoice, you see, because of that prayer.”

This concept of curses left by Native Americans has a large foothold in the New Apostolic Reformation, and today Bruce Wilson reported that NAR figures Chuck Pierce, John Benefiel, Tom Schlueter and Jay Swallow recently participated in an event in Teas that involved “smashing of Native American art objects” in order to “divorce and tear down the principalities of Baal, Asherah and Leviathan.” Like Benefiel and Swallow, Jacobs was an official endorser of The Response.
Except there weren't any Native American Cannibals in Texas, or apparently anywhere else, any more than there were European American cannibals.
However, Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, a Spanish conquistador who lived among the Karankawa for several years in the 1530s made no mention of cannibalism. To the contrary, Cabeza De Vaca acknowledged that he and his fellow Spanish conquistadors committed acts of cannibalism on their own to stay alive after shipwrecking off Galveston Bay. The Karankawa (or possibly the Atakapa) people were shocked at the Spanish cannibalism which they found to be repugnant. Most of the later accounts of Karankawa cannibalism are second or third-hand.
I'm appalled at ANY candidate who claims to want to hold office, at any level. who agrees with these morons, who seeks their support, both in vote and donation, and who appears to fully condone the destruction of the historic and artistic legacy of Native Americans for purposes of indulging their stupid superstition.

Remember this? These people are no different.  They are just as stupid and ignorant, just as horrible, just as irresponsible.  The same "we don't want your kids going to school, receiving a western education" as Boko Haram.

If you are not a Christian, you should be scared. This lot believes the protections of the Constitution only apply to them. If you are a Christian, but not THEIR variety of Christian, you should be more frightened; they are equally your enemy.

And it's not just Jindal, there's competition for the right wing stupid.  We have former governor Huckabee, promoting the solution to ending school mass shootings is to require every school to hold daily Christian chapel services, and we have Tom Inhofe, who thinks the Bible trumps science on global warming.

Stupid is the persistent and wilful failure to recognize cause and effect; stupid is rejecting reality.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Right wing obscenity on the anniversary commemorating the Holocaust

Don Feder of the World Congress of Families is pretty sure that “Barack Hussein Obama is perhaps the greatest tragedy to befall the Jews since the destruction of the Second Temple” in 70 AD. This apparently means that, according to Feder, the Obama presidency has been worse for the Jewish people than such atrocities as the Holocaust and the Pogroms.

“Our president is a world-class crescent-kisser,” Feder writes. “In his State of the Union address – between striking Mussolini-like poses and lying about employment – the president disclosed that as part of the ‘partnership’ between America and Islam (we buy their oil, they kill us), ‘I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.’ Is it a stereotype if it's true?” (The remark was actually delivered in a 2009 speech in Cairo.)

After falsely claiming that Obama “studied in a madrassa,” Feder writes that “the president is anti-Americanism incarnate.”

Barack Hussein Obama is perhaps the greatest tragedy to befall the Jews since the destruction of the Second Temple. He's trying to force Israel into a suicidal pact with the gentle folk of Hamas and Fatah. Every time Palestinian terrorists (Hamas and Fatah) kill more Jews, he calls for calm on both sides – as if Israel was doing anything but defending itself.

His hatred of Netanyahu borders on the pathological. When Boehner recently invited the Israeli Prime Minister to address the House of Representatives, Obama threw one of his hissy fits, letting it be known that Bibi would not be asked to stop at the White House. That must be a terrible blow for the Prime Minister. Now, the administration is threatening to retaliate against Bibi. Where Churchill was defiant, Obama is petulant.

Our president is a world-class crescent-kisser. He'll periodically tell us how it's his duty to defend Islam from scurrilous attacks. I must have missed that in Constitutional Law class.

In his State of the Union address – between striking Mussolini-like poses and lying about employment – the president disclosed that as part of the "partnership" between America and Islam (we buy their oil, they kill us), "I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear." Is it a stereotype if it's true?

Barack may have studied in a madrassa, but Winston experienced the business end of the scimitar. In "The River War," the future Prime Minister wrote: "How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries. Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous as hydrophobia in a dog," its effects include "improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce" and a "degraded sensualism that deprives this life of grace and refinement."

Churchill lived in the real world. Obama runs the religion-of-peace ride in Multicultural Land.

Churchill loved America. Obama loathes the nation he was twice elected to lead. From his rejection of American exceptionalism to equating the police shooting in Ferguson to ISIL's murder of captives (when speaking at the UN), the president is anti-Americanism incarnate.

Let's also point out at this juncture that anti-Islam sentiments and anti-ethnic sentiments to people from Muslim countries in the Middle East are equally included under the umbrella of Anti-Semitism.

from the Wikipedia entry on Semitic People (aka the People of Shem):

As language studies are interwoven with cultural studies, the term also came to describe the extended cultures and ethnicities, as well as the history of these varied peoples as associated by close geographic and linguistic distribution. Today, the word "Semite" may be used to refer to any member of any of a number of peoples of ancient Middle East including the Akkadians, Assyrians, Arameans, Phoenicians, Hebrews (Jews), Arabs, and their descendants.

Yup, those conservatives, especially the radical rekuguiys righties, return to their Anti-Semitism like the Biblical phrase, "dogs to their vomit". (2 Peter, 2:22)

You cannot love god and also love lies; apparently the religious right loves lies more than God. And apparently the radical right is pushing hard for another Holocaust, since they've turned their back on factually remembering the last one.

That is, those on the right who don't deny the Holocaust entirely have revised history. It's not only President Obama that is the target of this kind of Holocaust lie; so has President Clinton, and no doubt if she becomes a presidential candidate, we'll see the same for Hillary Clinton. The radical ridiculous righties can't get enough of the lies lies lies and more lies lies lies.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

North Dakota losing 20,000 oil field jobs: What it means

The reason we have cheap oil is because the Middle East, notably Saudi Arabia, continues pumping it. The estimated extraction price of Saudi oil is $1-$2, with a break even price around $4 a barrel.

NO U.S. producer can compete with that. No other world producers can compete with that. Even the other adjoining countries like the United Emirates have a break even price of around $15.

It's stupid to keep pumping oil, it is stupid to keep using petroleum energy (or even coal energy) with those basic economic facts. There is no effective competition possible.

Instead we should be using the period of low energy costs to make a more rapid transition to cheap renewables, like solar and wind. This notion of 'all of the above' energy sources makes no sense whatsoever. While we make such a change, we should be upgrading our energy grid, which is of poor quality and vulnerable, not to mention that we lose a tremendous amount of energy loss in distribution as pure waste, averaging 6% of generated electricity, for example.

Citypages ran a recent article on the expected loss of 20,000 jobs, by June, in the North Dakota oil fields, aka the Bakken oil fields. It's really more like two relatively adjacent fields, the Parshal field and the Bakken field, which are part of the Bakken formation. Then there is the layer of oil below that, the Three Forks formation. There are other layers above and below the US layers, which overlap into Montana and into Saskatchewan, Canada.

For purposes of this post, we're talking about the top layer, the Bakken layer, which is regular surface drilling, where other layers like the Three Forks are shale fields of oil. This matters because of the difference in the cost of extraction. The top layer, the Bakken, is the easiest to extract and therefore the cheapest. That production is still profitable to the Saudis, while it hurts other producers, notably here in the U.S., but also in their enemy rivals like Iran (that pesky Sunni-Shia conflict).

The break even cost of Bakken field oil is around $40 a barrel, give or take per this from Reuters, with overall U.S. break even costs running closer to $60. That's on par with deep oil extraction off the coast of Africa. The UK remaining North Sea oil is also relatively difficult to extract, running around $50 a barrel.

Shale oil costs more than extracting oil closer to the surface; tar sands costs more than that -- and has higher transportation and refining costs as well.

The North Sea oil producers are cutting an expected 300 jobs, largely due to low oil prices. And that's for more desirable, more easily refined oil, not tar sands garbage oil.

We're not going to see a rise in prices this year, and we're unlikely to see prices anywhere near what it takes to make tar sands oil -- with a break even price in the $70 - $80 range or higher -- any time soon, if EVER. That is in part the intention of the Saudi oil producers, along with a little targeted economic war on oil speculators.

The Keystone XL is a pipeline that will do one thing, and one thing only, privatize profits (if any) and shift to the public, aka socialize liabilities, costs and losses. Only the seriously ill-informed, the chronic teabagging ignorati, and those easily deceived and exploited support this activity. This is a great opportunity as well to break the choke hold of this special interest on our politics, and get this corruption OUT NOW.

It's not going to produce jobs; not so long as Saudi oil is coming out of the ground at $1 a barrel. Rather it is only going to perpetuate us being over that Saudi barrel if we continue this fossil fuel insanity and stupidity.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Constitutionalists and the rule of law.

Most people who describe themselves as "Constitutionalists" need to understand EXACTLY what it is they claim to support: especially if they believe that have any form of "right" to insurrection.  Article III, Section iii makes it clear that position is bullshit (as does various other passages in the Constitution):
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment also makes it clear that:
No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

For a subset of this group of Constitutionalists which calls itself the "oathkeepers"  needs to be reminded that they are also subject to UCMJ if they are in the military.  The UCMJ  has sections which strictly prohibit many things done by the right. One is showing contempt toward the President (and other government officials):
10 U.S. Code § 888 - Art. 88. Contempt toward officials
 Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.
There is also 10 U.S. Code § 894 - Art. 94. Mutiny or sedition
(a) Any person subject to this chapter who—
(1) with intent to usurp or override lawful military authority, refuses, in concert with any other person, to obey orders or otherwise do his duty or creates any violence or disturbance is guilty of mutiny;
(2) with intent to cause the overthrow or destruction of lawful civil authority, creates, in concert with any other person, revolt, violence, or other disturbance against that authority is guilty of sedition;
(3) fails to do his utmost to prevent and suppress a mutiny or sedition being committed in his presence, or fails to take all reasonable means to inform his superior commissioned officer or commanding officer of a mutiny or sedition which he knows or has reason to believe is taking place, is guilty of a failure to suppress or report a mutiny or sedition.
(b) A person who is found guilty of attempted mutiny, mutiny, sedition, or failure to suppress or report a mutiny or sedition shall be punished by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct.
18 U.S. Code Chapter 115 addresses treason, sedition, and other subversive activities with 18 U.S. Code §2385 specifically prohibiting advocating the overthrow of the US Government.  These specific laws would be in line with Article III, Section iii of the Constitution.

And I have yet to see a "Constitutionalist" show me where exactly the Second Amendment happens to explicitly repeal Article III, Section iii.  We can also add that the Constitution was partially a reaction to Shays Rebellion.

The really big point that "constitutionalists" fail to understand is that they are bound by the laws which have been made in accordance to the Constitution. If they believe the laws were not lawfully enacted, then they are to use the proper constitutional framework, which is not rebellion, but the courts and legislature.

That what is meant by the rule of law:  The US is a nation of laws, not people. Article VI, Clause 2 of the Constitution states:
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.

The problem is that we have seen people who claim to believe in the US Constitution who fail to understand basic concepts such as the Feds can regulate Interstate Trade (Article I, Section 8, Clause 3), yet we have seen silly and futile attempts to thwart this by the right.

In short, people who call themselves "Constitutionalists" need to bone up on what exactly they claim to believe in.

See also:

Jobs? WHAT jobs - India steel workers jobs? Lower oil prices? WHAT lower oil prices -- for China?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Republicans/Convervatives AGREE, Man Contributes to Climate Change.. well, sort of..

Today, the US Senate took several "historic" votes.   The first, comical one, was taken to agree it's actually happening, that the fact that the Earth is warming and that the warming is "Not a Hoax."  Wow.. talk about taking a real risk AND an important vote... I mean, there is no evidence at all that the Earth is NOT warming, and mountains that it is.  No respected scientist claims or has proof it isn't warming, 100,000 DO have facts to show that it is, because we have records from sources which are unquestionably reliable from all over the world from the past 150 years, that in fact the Earth is substantially warmer than it was when we started keeping records of these temperatures on a global basis, and further we know it has been warming for decades.  Unless you think people taking measurements in the 1850's were "in on the conspiracy" to claim the Earth was warming 150 years later, a conspiracy which has been claimed to exist btw, or you think that mercury thermometers somehow worked differently in 1910 than they did in 2010, there IS NO CONTROVERSY in the scientific world, even the world paid for by the Oil and Coal industry "think tanks", about whether the Earth is warming.  Zero, zip, zilch.

Maybe tomorrow they can vote on whether gravity will cause you to fall downward.  I have friends who would dispute that point, if told to by their political "thinkers."

So that 98-1 vote is admitting to nothing.   It's hilarious that it was even taken, of course except that SO VERY MANY conservatives DO think the Earth isn't warming.  They commonly and snarkily remark, "Must be Global Warming" whenever the thermometer dips below zero, indicating both a deep-seated and factually empty skepticism that it's even happening at all AND a lack of grasp of the difference between weather (the immediate meteorological conditions in the area) and climate (the general, seasonal and annual prevailing meteorological conditions over time).  So, it was a meaningless and embarrassing vote for the United States Senate, in that our nation is a laughingstock that 30% (or so) of it's people are so ignorant that they think Climate Change isn't happening at all.  So, apparently, we need our Senate to vote to say it is happening to show that, at least for US Senators there is no question that it is and they have to be more honest than their ultra-conservative friends, because Senators represent entire states rather than highly partisan districts of ignorant fools, and by doing so, maybe, just maybe, the rank and file will stop and say,"Oh, I guess it's happening." Yeah, that's gonna' happen.  As a side note, I have to wonder who the hell voted to say it WAS a hoax. I'm sure I can find out, and then laugh like hell at the state which voted in that toolbag.

(Update, it was Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, a state which has been last in education since I was born, and so, many also still believe the Earth is flat).

But, more importantly, the Senate ALSO took votes today, votes which failed on 59-40 line votes, that MAN is causing, or SIGNIFICANTLY causing Climate Change.  Do you hear that Paleoliths?  MAN is causing it, even SIGNIFICANTLY, so says 15 members of your own party's Senators.  Now, don't get me wrong 15 out of 55 being able to agree that when 99% of science says something, it's pretty likely to be true, isn't something to pin a medal on anyone over, but it's still a pretty big moment, an historic one to a degree, because it can be used to beat neo-cons over the head with, even though the vote was symbolic nonsense. You have, now, finally, members of the Party ("cult") of Stupid Climate Change Denial (SCCD), who have agreed it is in fact significantly caused by man.

Well.. except, not so much.  You see, the reason they did so, was that if the bill had passed, it would have funded the KeyStone XL (needless) pipeline.  It would have funded a pipeline to increase the use of the same fossil energy sources as the bill decries must be stopped being used.  So, they voted to fund the EXACT thing they were, in that vote, saying MUST BE STOPPED.  So, this was absurd, hypocritical, special interest backing political theatre.  I neither think my "friends" like Mitch Berg nor David Strom are going to start saying that Global Climate Change is occurring, nor, as clearly evidenced by the vote, do I think Republicans have ANY intent to do anything about it.  So these votes, these "important" votes, schedule by the Republican Majority Leader (Mitch McConnell) were nothing other than a waste of money and time.  Rather than doing something important, once again Republicans are showing their stripes by showing they intend to do little and less to address the fundamental problems facing this country.  As an aside, they cancelled a vote in the US House this morning, one which would have easily passed, to ban all  abortion after 20 weeks.  You women out there who think Republicans are not misogynist, think again. No votes on infrastructure, no votes on higher education funding, no votes to move our country forward on a real energy policy. Nope, just subterfuge intended to make it seem like they are moderate (when they aren't), to mask their actions to fund a pipeline which has no real positive economic impact except to the ultra-wealthy.  Nothing new, they are a party whose leadership and policies are set by the Rich, of the Rich, and for the Rich.  Those of you out there who vote for them who have a net worth less than $50m are easily deluded pawns, and when your kids ask you why you did nothing to try to address the destruction of the American farm belt as it slides inexorably into being an arid plain incapable of supporting cash crops, you can at least say, "Hey, Donald Trump is a winner, and whiners like you are just bitter.  Eat your dust and shut up.  NO, there's no (safe) water to drink, but at least we've got oil."

Republicans came a bad second in the SOTU -- their choice

Good point!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Joni Ernst, following in Michele Bachmann's fact free cray cray footsteps

Of course, because she's a woman, they also had a lot of conservative men give rebuttals, because you know -- conservatives don't put much stock in what women have to say, or women generally.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Bloodletting of a different sort

There was once a medical practise called bloodletting, which had been practised for millennia.  In fact, Bloodletting was also popular in the young United States of America, where Benjamin Rush (a signatory of the Declaration of Independence) saw the state of the arteries as the key to disease, recommending levels of bloodletting that were high even for the time. George Washington asked to be bled heavily after he developed a throat infection from weather exposure. Within a ten hour period, a total of 124-126 ounces (3.75 liters) of blood was withdrawn prior to his death from a throat infection in 1799.

Needless to say, that probably was what caused Washington to die, but it was "state of the art" medical care at the time the Constitution was written. This was despite William Harvey disproving the basis of the practice in 1628.  The introduction of scientific medicine allowed Pierre Charles Alexandre Louis to demonstrate that phlebotomy was entirely ineffective in the treatment of pneumonia and various fevers in the 1830s.

Things change and ideas that were widely accepted no longer have currency, which is why the US Constitution should not be rigidly interpreted.  I have pointed out that the institution of the militia came under criticism by Adam Smith in his Wealth of Nations for being inappropriate in a modern society.

The problem is that the US Constitution makes it clear that it is intended to "insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare" among other things.  Additionally, the Second Amendment makes it clear that a "well regulated militia" is "necessary to the security of a free State" with no amount of sophistry from Scalia and others trying to neglect the fact that "it cannot be presumed that any clause in the Constitution is intended to be without effect".

Far more evidence exists that the issues the Second Amendment were intended to address were civilian control over the military and the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia: not private guns.  The debates talk about military establishments that go out of control, which is something the Constitution spends a good deal of time trying to prevent:
For most Americans after the Revolution, a standing army was one of the most dangerous threats to liberty. In thinking about the potential dangers of a standing army, the Founding generation had before them the precedents of Rome and England. In the first case, Julius Caesar marched his provincial army into Rome, overthrowing the power of the Senate, destroying the republic, and laying the foundation of empire. In the second, Cromwell used the army to abolish Parliament and to rule as dictator. In addition, in the period leading up to the Revolution, the British Crown had forced the American colonists to quarter and otherwise support its troops, which the colonists saw as nothing more than an army of occupation. Under British practice, the king was not only the commander in chief; it was he who raised the armed forces. The Framers were determined not to lodge the power of raising an army with the executive.
The problem is that the warnings about the growth of the military-industrial complex have been forgotten with the US now having an out of control military.  The establishment of a full time, professional army is far more of a violation of what the Second Amendment was intended to protect than the banning of private arms ever will be.

For the Founders, the militia arose from the posse comitatus, constituting the people as a whole and embodying the Anglo-American idea that the citizenry is the best enforcer of the law. "A militia when properly formed," wrote Richard Henry Lee in his Letters From the Federal Farmer, "are in fact the people themselves...and include all men capable of bearing arms." From its origins in Britain, the posse comitatus (meaning to be able to be an attendant) was generally understood to constitute the constabulary of the "shire." When order was threatened, the "shire-reeve," or sheriff, would raise the "hue and cry," and all citizens who heard it were bound to render assistance in apprehending a criminal or maintaining order. The Framers transferred the power of calling out the militia from local authorities to the Congress.

The Anti-Federalists were not pleased. They wanted the militia to remain under state control as a check on the national government. Many feared that an institution intended for local defense could be dispatched far from home. As Luther Martin objected:
As it now stands, the Congress will have the power, if they please, to march the whole militia of Maryland to the remotest part of the union, and keep them in service as long as they think proper, without being in any respect dependent upon the government of Maryland for this unlimited exercise of power over its citizens. "Genuine Information," 1788.
In the "Calling Forth" Act of 1792, Congress exercised its powers under the Militia Clause and delegated to the President the authority to call out the militia and issue it orders when invasion appeared imminent or to suppress insurrections. While the act gave the President a relatively free hand in case of invasion, it constrained his authority in the case of insurrections by requiring that a federal judge certify that the civil authority and the posse comitatus were powerless to meet the exigency. The President had also to order the insurgents to disband before he could mobilize the militia. This was the procedure that President George Washington followed during the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794.

The Second Amendment was intended to make sure that the federal government never totally used its powers to the detriment of that institution. The real killer was not federal neglect or abuse, but apathy by the general populace:
The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered,as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them. And yet, though this truth would seem so clear, and the importance of a well regulated militia would seem so undeniable, it cannot be disguised,that among the American people there is a growing indifference to any system of militia discipline, and a strong disposition, from a sense of its burthens, to be rid of all regulations. How it is practicable to keep the people duly armed without some organization, it is difficult to see.There is certainly no small danger, that indifference may lead to disgust, and disgust to contempt; and thus gradually undermine all the protection intended by this clause of our national bill of rights.

Times change and ideas become obsolete, which is something the Constitution provides a mechanism for addressing, which is the amendment process.  The Constitution itself was amended immediately upon adoption by the Bill of Rights. In fact, the Heller decision by choosing to say the stated reason for the Second Amendment was unimportant to an analysis of the text have made it clear that the Second Amendment is obsolete.

Why should society be ruled by an anachronistic section of the US Constitution, which has been judicially amended to change its original intent?  Even worse, this is a section of the US Constitution which has long died from neglect.

The only reason to treat this as sacrosanct is if people like bloodletting of a different sort.


  • NOT the date of his assassination, the holiday celebrates MLK's birthday (actually occurred last week - this is the nearest Monday, a custom for federal holidays).
  • NOT true that black people could not or did not have guns in the 1960's; MLK himself had a gun for about six months for protection, before getting rid of it because of his evolving views on non-violence.
  • CLEARLY does NOT have a clue what the legacy is of MLK, or why we celebrate him as a significant historic figure.
  • Just another stupid teabagger figurehead, with no grasp of factual history, too damned lazy and ideology obsessed to think or learn anything, but eager to run her dumb mouth, spreading more ignorant to other wilfully ignorant fools and bigots.  So appalling, so offensive, you just couldn't make this shit up if you tried.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!
Mythbusting right wing revisionist history

The conservatives in the United States have a problem.  That problem is that they are consistently on the wrong side of the arc of history.

So they make up their own fake history, on such a large scale that it becomes an alternate delusional, ideological reality.  In that regard, conservatism is a form of mental illness, of a break with reality.

Gen. Colin Powell, former Secretary of State under Dubya, called out the GOP for racism.  At the same time we see the same old same old lies from the right trying to claim credit for and solidarity with the accomplishments of King and the other civil rights activists of the day. 

At the same time they try to distance themselves from the conservative violence, the conservative opposition (BOTH Republican and Democractic) to civil rights legislation, and the attempts to disrespect the legacy of King after his assassination -- by a conservative.

Here's the problem with the right wing scenario:  It is not true, not even a little bit.

The civil rights legislation of the 60's was first proposed by liberal democrats, notably our own 'happy warrior', Senator - then-Vice-President Hubert Humphrey, who promoted civil rights for minority Americans as far back as the 1948 Democratic convention when he wrote a civil rights plank for the party, passed over the votes of conservative Democrats (mostly from the deep south).

Liberal Democrats wrote the civil rights legislation and the voting rights legislation, notably with considerable input from Hubert Humphrey.  It was passed by a majority of Democratic members of Congress, with support from liberal members on the Republican side.

If you look at the list of those who voted against that landmark legislation, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THOSE VOTES CAME FROM A CONSERVATIVE.

In the later 60's through the 70's and 80's, the great switcheroo took place, with conservative Democrats, both voters and pols, changing sides to align with Republicans.  Liberal Republicans began their migration to the Democratic side.

WHY does this matter now?

Here's why, via ThinkProgress:

On Sunday, during an appearance on Meet The Press, Colin Powell condemned the GOP’s “dark vein of intolerance” and the party’s repeated use of racial code words to oppose President Obama and rally white conservative voters.
Without mentioning names, Powell singled out former Mitt Romney surrogate and New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu for calling Obama “lazy” and Sarah Palin, who, Powell charged, used slavery-era terms to describe Obama:

POWELL: There’s also a dark — a dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the party. What do I mean by that? I mean by that that they still sort of look down on minorities. How can I evidence that?
When I see a former governor say that the President is “shuckin’ and jivin’,” that’s racial era slave term. When I see another former governor after the president’s first debate where he didn’t do very well, says that the president was lazy. He didn’t say he was slow. He was tired. He didn’t do well. He said he was lazy. Now, it may not mean anything to most Americans, but to those of us who are African Americans, the second word is shiftless and then there’s a third word that goes along with that. The birther, the whole birther movement. Why do senior Republican leaders tolerate this kind of discussion within the party?

And here's also why, via Salon:
The right’s grossest race lie: Delusional conservatives and the truth about MLK
Post-Ferguson and Staten Island, the right's again claiming MLK would be on their side. Let's put the lie to rest
Paul Rosenberg

The right's grossest race lie: Delusional conservatives and the truth about MLKBill O'Reilly, Martin Luther King, Jr., Sean Hannity (Credit: AP/Horace Cort/Fox News)

“It didn’t cost the nation one penny to integrate lunch counters. It didn’t cost the nation one penny to guarantee the right to vote. But now we are dealing with issues that cannot be solved without thenation spending billions of dollars and undergoing a radical redistribution of economic power.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King, speech while organizing the Poor People’s Movement [From
Citizen King.]
Conservatives have a decades-long history of deeply divided views on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. On the one hand, there’s the traditional “most dangerous Negro in America” (per J. Edgar Hoover) view that dominated their thinking while King was alive, and even up to the time his birthday was made into a national holiday.
On the other, there’s a long-standing attempt to kidnap King ideologically and reinvent him as one of their own. This effort often revolves around the only line most conservatives seem to know King spoke—something about “the content of their character, not the color of their skin.”
By ripping that line out of context, imbuing it  with their own odious character narratives, and ignoring virtually everything else King said or did in his life—much less what conservatives at the time said about him—they have invented a fantasy figure, closer to Santa Claus than to the real Martin Luther King. And that Santa figure exists for one purpose: to make them feel good about themselves—I mean really good about themselves—when the real Martin Luther King would fill them with shame and humiliation, if not outright self-disgust.
The conservative kidnapping of King is a perverse example of mythos—meaning making—as opposed to logos—empirical knowledge about the real world, which helps to explain why no amount of facts to the contrary will stop conservatives from indulging in it. But we can certainly make it difficult for them to spread this calumny without being met with waves of richly deserved ridicule whenever they repeat it.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Islamo-terrorists in France, and the role of the radical right and the NRA

They're all dead now, the two groups of terrorists.

It was inevitable that would be how it ended, but it was avoidable from the beginning.

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The radical right, the worst of the bad actors on the religious right, and of course the perpetually bad actors over at the NRA have blood on their hands in the recent terrorism incidents (plural) in France, and likely will have more blood on their hands, for their contribution to terrorists possessing military weapons, including fully automatic firearms and RPGs.

They have blood on their hands for their opposition to the UN arms treaty, excerpted below from the first two pages of the treaty containing the preamble.

Bad people, too many of the WRONG people, have guns and other weapons BECAUSE they want to commit acts of political and religious violence, and the radicals on either side of the spectrum WANT THEM TO BE ABLE TO DO SO UNCHECKED AND UNREGULATED.

Stopping the sales of firearms and RPGs to the bad guys, whether religious terrorists, right wing racist terrorists like Anders Breivik or other related extremists like Cliven Bundy and those who threatened legitimate and lawful government agencies with lethal force.  Or narco-terrorists, or just garden variety criminals -- the problem is too many weapons in too many wrong hands.

The gun manufacturers hold the leash of the NRA; the gun manufacturers (and other weapons manufacturers) don't want any check or restraint on their sales to the good, the bad, or the bloody minded extremist ugly.

THAT is not freedom, that is not civilization or civil rights. It is in fact a threat to them from greed, corruption, and the power of the fanatically paranoid controlled by powerful special interests -- in this case weapons manufacturers and the NRA. Fear and violence are good for selling more guns and ammo!

It's Pragmatic merchanting and marketing at its finest! Hooray for unbridled and immoral capitalism!

You know  corrupt special interests are pulling the strings when you see lies like these claims, including those made by most of the GOP presidential wannabees, which are so easily fact-checked and disproven:

Without such irrational and paranoid opposition, and without such calculated disinformationa nd misinformation campaigns, the UN and the individual nations supporting this treaty would be better able to keep such weapons out of the hands of Islamo-terrorists as well as the right wing nut terrorists like those supporting Cliven Bundy and his cop-killing supporters.

The key sections which refute the opposition to the treaty are highlighted in bold letters.
United Nations The Arms Trade Treaty Preamble (read the whole thing here)
The States Parties to this Treaty, Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations,
Recalling Article 26 of the Charter of the United Nations which seeks to promote the establishment and maintenance of international peace and security with the least diversion for armaments of the world's human and economic resources,
Underlining the need to prevent and eradicate the illicit trade in conventional arms and to prevent their diversion to the illicit market, or for unauthorized end use and end users, including in the commission of terrorist acts, (my emphasis added - DG)
Recognizing the legitimate political, security, economic and commercial interests of States in the international trade in conventional arms, Reaffirming the sovereign right of any State to regulate and control conventional arms exclusively within its territory, pursuant to its own legal or constitutional system, (my emphasis added - DG) <!--more-->
Acknowledging that peace and security, development and human rights are pillars of the United Nations system and foundations for collective security and recognizing that development, peace and security and human rights are interlinked and mutually reinforcing, Recalling the United Nations Disarmament Commission Guidelines for international arms transfers in the context of General Assembly resolution 46/36H of 6 December 1991,
Noting the contribution made by the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, as well as the Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and the International Instrument to Enable States to Identify and Trace, in a Timely and Reliable Manner, llicit Small Arms and Light Weapons,
Recognizing the security, social, economic and humanitarian consequences of the illicit and nregulated trade in conventional arms, Bearing in mind that civilians, particularly women and children, account for the vast majority of those adversely affected by armed conflict and armed violence,
(my emphasis added - DG)
Recognizing also the challenges faced by victims of armed conflict and their need for adequate care, rehabilitation and social and economic inclusion, Emphasizing that nothing in this Treaty prevents States from maintaining and adopting additional effective measures to further the object and purpose of this Treaty,
Mindful of the legitimate trade and lawful ownership, and use of certain conventional arms for recreational, cultural, historical, and sporting activities, where such trade, ownership and use are permitted or protected by law, (my emphasis added - DG)
Mindful also of the role regional organizations can play in assisting States Parties, upon request, in implementing this Treaty, Recognizing the voluntary and active role that civil society, including nongovernmental organizations, and industry, can play in raising awareness of the object and purpose of this Treaty, and in supporting its implementation,
Acknowledging that regulation of the international trade in conventional arms and preventing their diversion should not hamper international cooperation and legitimate trade in materiel, equipment and technology for peaceful purposes, (my emphasis added - DG)
Emphasizing the desirability of achieving universal adherence to this Treaty,
Determined to act in accordance with the following principles;
– The inherent right of all States to individual or collective self defence as recognized in Article 51 o f the Charter of the United Nations;
– The settlement of international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered in accordance with Article 2 (3) of the Charter of the United Nations ;
– Refraining in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations in accordance with Article 2 (4) of the Charter of the United Nations;
Non -intervention in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any State in accordance with Article 2 (7) of the Charter of the United Nations; (my emphasis added - DG)
– Respecting and ensuring respect for international humanitarian law in accordance with, inter alia, the Geneva Conventions of 1949, and respecting and ensuring respect for human rights in accordance with, inter alia, the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
The responsibility of all States, in accordance with their respective international obligations, to effectively regulate the international trade in conventional arms, and to prevent their diversion, as well as the primary responsibility of all States in establishing and implementing their respective national control systems; (my emphasis added - DG)

Je Suis Charlie!

Charlie Hebdo was an equal opportunity satirical journal in that they attacked pretty much everybody.  In fact, they had more run ins with Christians than Muslims, but that has gotten lost because they were attacked by "mooslims".  Some people are willing to distance themselves from Charlie Hebdo because of its outspokeness in its satire.
free-speech-meaningUnfortunately, I have to say that I can side with Charlie Hebdo for wanting to be deliberately offensive in order to try and make a point. 

I know that some people would like to imply that I am racist for my Dred Scott post, but that misses the point. I would have liked to have it so that "Dixie" played badly on an out of tune banjo played when one landed on this post. It was meant to point out the attitude toward blacks when Dred Scott was posted. Alas, I didn't know about Somersett's case when I wrote originally wrote that post or it would have been a different post.  However, one has to point out that slavery was accepted in the US and some still defend that institution.

Then, there are also the posts on Meleanie Hain, who was the pro-gun pinup who managed to get herself killed by a gun, even though she had a gun for protection.  Alas, Meleanie is one of far too many people who have died from pro-gun bullshit.

In fact, there is a serious problem with trying to satirise the pro-gun (and many other of the reality challenged right's positions) in that without some clue that it is satire, it's hard to tell the satire from the real thing.  This is something called Poe's Law.  Thus, someone who may be deadly serious in their blogging actually comes off as a sick parody of their positions.

It's a scary world when it is hard to satirise the crazies around us.

And harder to have a serious debate on the issues.

Fiore on Fanatics

and to provide a little context to the fanatics, and what drives them, because this is all part of the problem:

and from Fiore back in 2012

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Charlie Hebdo

Yesterday, at the magazine Charlie Hebdo (said Sharlee ebb doe as I understand), a number of artists and satarists, were massacred by religious extremists.  The magazine had in the past mocked the Islamic Prophet Muhammed, but also had mocked politicians, Jesus Christ, Jewish Orthodoxy, and really anyone they felt needed a friendly "poke" to remind them (those being mocked or elevating their sacred cow) that their sanctimony was unwarranted or their sacred cow had a splinter in its eye.

The artists killed were brilliant and they were courageous.  Had they been in the United States, they'd have been hated by the right-wing because they mocked Christ, but because they were in France and mocked Muhammad as well, the right-wingers here, to a small degree, applauded them (though not much).  Instead, they used Charlie Hebdo's publication of images mocking Muhammad and the reaction of the extremists in the Islamic world as a mechanism to condemn Islam as a whole, without seeing the enormous hypocrisy that existed.  That hypocrisy being that the far right here generally hates media outlets with the audacity to satirize anyone, including Christ, Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz, etc.. even if they also satirize people like President Obama, Harry Reid or Joe Biden (which John Stewart has done routinely).  In short, the right wing in this country is just about as tolerant as the other extremists in the world, though, to their credit, they mostly don't engage in violent reprisal.

Here's something you may not know.  Nothing in the Qu'ran forbids depicting Muhammad, in satire or otherwise.  There is a small number of  Haddith (subsequent teachings, not authored by Muhammad) to not portray any prophet (which includes Jesus and Abraham) in an unflattering way, but much Haddith are not universally accepted as holy or even as something which must be followed as a form of governmental policy, much like the Talmud (or Leviticus) isn't used to define law in many locations where Jews and Christians are in the majority.  No, it's not fundamental Islam which says that you cannot portray Muhammad, it's dictatorial governments (such as Saudi Arabia's) which don't allow for the criticism of itself or of images it wants to protect (such as Muhammad's) which do so, and those people who grew up in those nations certainly feel it is perfectly appropriate for "authorities" to stop the publication of images, including and especially satire, that the government or authorities do not want published.  Instead, this was the political action of extremists designed to intimidate and control those they don't agree with.

So, in France, and in various places, including at times in the United States, it becomes dangerous to mock those who deserve to be mocked.  It becomes courageous to do so.  I salute the workers at Charlie Hebdo.  I salute those who were slain and those who took the risk and I condemn those who would seek to squelch free expression, including those who seek to use US law to ban free expression or who seek to ban funding the arts, such as public television, because that form of art "offends" their political sensibility.  It is un-American at best (and deeply unethical at worst) to look to use the power of government to silence critics, including just threatening to "investigate un-American views" as "Frau" Michelle (tail-gunner) Bachmann did.  It IS American to stand up for those who take risks.  So I will stand up, Vive la Charlie   Je Suis Charlie,  Vive la Liberty.   I will stand up and poke fun at anyone in solidarity with Charlie and I encourage my friends in the "media" on the web to do the same rather than run and hide, as the UK's Guardian has suggested we do.

Decide for yourself whether you chose to SAY you are not going to be cowed or intimidated, or whether you are going to ACT like you are not going to be.  Those of you who will ACT, the best you can do is to publish images which will infuriate those who would seek to control you and show them they are impotent and their actions will have the exact opposite effect to that which they desire.  To those who would seek to control me, here is my reply:

"100 Lashes for anyone who doesn't die of laughter"

"I would rather die on my feet than live on my knees" - Charlie Hebdo editor and satirist, Stéphane Charbonnier, killed by religious extremists Jan 7, 2015