Thursday, March 31, 2011

Is Joe Scarborough even paying attention?

In a recent missive, Joe Scarborough of MSNBC called attention to the alleged "Hypocrisy of the American Left" regarding the war in Libya. He makes several claims that are not factual, and messes up the comparison of Libya to Iraq so badly that I wonder if he even reads the news or has any grasp of current events.

Scarborough remarks that antiwar activists on the left have been silent so far on the Libyan issue while they raised hell over George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq. To counter this point, Jason Linkins gives a point by point of Code Pink's recent protests and the arrests of many anti-war individuals at a rally in Washington, DC this month. Journalists such as Katrina Vanden Huevel and Glenn Greenwald, scholars like Juan Cole, and several Congressmen (even after the Tea Party cleaned out many lefties) have come out vocally against military action in Libya.

But my real problem with Scarborough is the false equivalence he holdss for Libya versus other nations like Iraq. He says:

How can the left call for the ouster of Muammar Qadhafi for the sin of killing hundreds of Libyans when it opposed the war waged against Saddam Hussein? During Saddam’s two decades in Iraq, he killed more Muslims than anyone in history and used chemical weapons against his own people and neighboring states.

If Obama and his liberal supporters believed Qadhafi’s actions morally justified the Libyan invasion, why did they sit silently by for 20 years while Saddam killed hundreds of thousands?

And how do they claim the moral high ground in Libya while not calling for the immediate invasion of Syria? The monstrous Bashar al-Assad regime is slaughtering his own people by the hundreds. More killings are sure to happen as that corrupt regime teeters on the brink of collapse.

In Yemen, the situation is no better. Government snipers shoot unarmed women and children from the rooftops of Sanaa. Should we follow Obama’s example in Libya and invade that country in the name of humanitarian relief? Or should we step into the breach in the Ivory Coast, where a terrifying civil war has led to a million refugees fleeing that country. And why do we not enter Sudan, where hundreds of thousands of innocents have been slaughtered over the past decade in a civil war of horrifying proportions?

First of all, every decision to engage militarily should be made on its own merits, and the ruse of humanitarianism should be assumed to be a rationale and not the sole reason. Is Libya like Iraq? Is Gadhafi like Saddam Hussein? Iraq was our ally for two decades, armed by the US against Iran (often against the protests from the left), and Hussein had never called for any attacks on US citizens or interests. Second of all, Iraq was saddled with a no-fly zone for ten years and had dismantled their own weapons programs, rendering an invasion unnecessary. Gadhafi, on the other hand, has attacked US soldiers, brought down US planes over Lockerbie, and has been a menace and not an ally to the United States for his entire 30 year reign. Third of all, the Libyan uprising was started by popular consent with an active revolution already taking place; Iraq was at relative peace with Hussein keeping the various faction quiet. Hussein had agreed to weapons inspections, and while hesitant, he had complied well-enough. What national interest was served by disrupting the Iraq hornet's nest, one that we are still expending resources to put back in place?

Scarborough alludes to Yemen, Syria, Sudan, and others. The President needs to weigh the national interests for each situation, the fact that our military resources are not unlimited (especially with so much still in Iraq), and the consent of our allies. No doubt there are several tragedies that one wishes we could remedy, but military intervention is not always the answer. Diplomatic and economic influence can be used as well; and also, we have to conclude sometimes that the US may not have an answer to some tragedies.

Who knows what will happen in Libya, but I do know that it's much different than Iraq. Scarborough complains that the left called Bush and Cheney Nazis while they give Obama a pass. Let's not start equating the most vitriolic rhetoric of one side with the standard view. Plenty of people on the extremes of both sides have lobbed irrational comparisons. For Scarborough to whine about that at this stage is comical. He ends with this:

In defending Obama’s Libya offensive, they ("the American left") are compromising their own morals. The American left is also making it abundantly clear that it does not find all wars morally reprehensible — only those begun by Republicans.

Scarborough's assumption is that "the left" cannot differentiate one war from another, and therefore they are "morally reprehensible." Quite a statement that has no bearing in fact. The lefties I know are not against all wars, just stupid ones. The Iraq war will be remembered as one of the most ill-timed, ill-conceived and mismanaged debacles in our nation's history. At a time when we should have been courting Islamic and Arabic allies, we kicked sand in their faces. The Libyan incursion, nominally backed by the Arab League, is such a far cry from the Iraq war that I wonder if Scarborough has even picked up a newspaper in the last 20 years.
war will be remembered as one of the most ill-timed, ill-conceived and mismanaged debacles in our nation's history. At a time when we should have been courting Islamic and Arabic allies, we kicked sand in their faces. The Libyan incursion, nominally backed by the Arab League, is such a far cry from the Iraq war that I wonder if Scarborough has even picked up a newspaper in the last 20 years.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Facepalm of the Day: Donald Trump Releases "Birth Certificate" [Updated below]

Donald Trump has released his birth certificate! This is the most hilarious thing I've seen in months. After going on The View last week and haranguing about how he's smart, street-savvy, went to the best schools, and he KNOWS President Obama is scamming us about his birth certificate. Trump KNOWS there must be something to hide and that's why Obama has not released his birth certificate. To prove he's legit, and not some Kenyan socialist, Trump has issued his own birth certificate.

Wait for it... Here's what Trump released to Newsmax:

Really. OMG, I don't think I've laughed this hard in months. This is the memento birth certificate hospitals issue to parents, sometimes with little footprints, to put in baby's little scrapbook. I've signed thousands of these to hand to parents on their way home from the hospital after the joyous event. A little something for public relations, maybe along with a package of coupons for diaper services or baby formula. You could probably order these cardboard certificates by the ream from any printer. This is NOT an official State of New York birth certificate. Either this is a joke or Donald Trump is the biggest fucking idiot on the planet.

Oh Jesus, I cannot stop laughing. Just thinking about Trump rifling through all his old boxes of his childhood memorabilia: baseball cards, old kid's football, report cards from second grade-- with comments from Mrs. DiSalvo: "Donald is such a good boy" -- and then, "yes, there it is my OFFICIAL birth certificate! Right next to the white bow I wore at my christening."

And he's running for President! Rarely does the shitstorm of stupidity that that inflicts our nation come into such sharp focus. Donald Trump: a walking, talking joke. Born on third base but thinks he hit a triple. Wasting our time with his relentless arrogant bullshit.


OK, for the sake of completeness, Donald Trump has released his actual birth certificate after a firestorm of controversy over the keepsake certificate he presented to Newsmax (above.) Regardless, this does not detract for the hilarity of Trump thinking the above certificate was "official." Note in this link how his staffer goes on about the difference between a "Birth Certificate" and a "Certificate of Live Birth" such as the one issued by President Obama. I'm no lawyer, but the differentiation seems tortured.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Monday, March 21, 2011

Things Fall Apart: What if Obama is correct?

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned...
-William Butler Yeats

The reasons to stay out of Libya are compelling: the US population is against it, no war has been declared, we are already spending trillions of dollars on other wars, Arab countries have resources and should be more involved instead of quelling pro-Democracy in their own nations, we should have helped overthrow Pakistan and Yemen. The whole escapade seems like yet another ill-advised excuse for an American president to flex some muscle while the US defense industry sells war on brown people. Can anything good ever come from war?

On Fox News yesterday, the pointed questions seemed to belie the dissonant and contradictory sentiment that while the nobody agrees with the president's actions in Libya, most commenters feel he should have acted 2 weeks ago. Or nascent democracy cannot take hold in such a backward country. Or the President should wait, promise ground forces, act more quickly, withhold ground forces, ignore the NCAA basketball tournament... whatever has been done is never the proper course.

The one sentiment that was not heard on any of the Sunday morning shows was, "What if President Obama is exactly right on this?" I realize this would be a novel result of any US foreign policy, especially in light of the complete disasters we're still experiencing from the last administration.

But let's look at the differences between Libya and the Iraq debacle. Libya's uprising was started by a popular uprising, Iraq's was not. The coalition organized against Libya includes, and is funded by, our allies. The Arab league, while spastic and unreliable, has voiced support for our military action. Our Secretary of State has not needed to lie to the UN in order to get them to pass a proclamation. Obama has not referred to our action as "a crusade." Libya is led by a dictator who has actually attacked US targets, Iraq was not. In short, the US is speaking speaking softly, yet our big stick is crashing down on a despicable terrorist despot.

So I'll ask the question again: What if Obama has gotten this issue exactly right? What if he has deliberated just enough and allowed others to voice the decision that he has already concluded is the correct one? Is that even possible? This is an opinion that would never be heard even if some pundit felt that way. The contrarian view of military action is so easy, so historically easy, to take-- especially with our recent history. Can an American president ever be correct? Fade the warmongering from the right or left.

Criticize the president in a time of war, it's okay only when the president is a Democrat. maybe this all ends in tears...

But consider for a moment, what if he has gotten this one right.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Lies, Damn Lies and Economists

Paul Krugman apparently has gotten caught massaging the statistics on Wisconsin education versus Texas when he was trying to show that collective bargaining provides better schools. Krugman argues that, overall, Wisconsin students perform better than Texas students on national tests....

However, Krugman had "forgotten" to factor in the racial composition of the states. Some call it cherry-picking, Falkenblog calls it Simpson's Paradox.

Iowahawk states it plain: "white students in Texas perform better than white students in Wisconsin, black students in Texas perform better than black students in Wisconsin, Hispanic students in Texas perform better than Hispanic students in Wisconsin."

This conclusion was corroborated by some dude at Harvard for those more comfortable with an east coast authority figure.

Friday, March 04, 2011

FOX News and teacher pay

The funniest thing about FOX News is the little "News" icon spinning in the left lower corner. Irony. From his lair, Rupert Murdoch chuckles every time he sees that.

The second funniest thing is the look on the "other" person's face who is there as the opposing view. (at 00:40, 01:35, 02:59, 03:48) but ESPECIALLY 04:48 where the guy is apparently thinking, "if only I had gotten my furnace repair certificate, I would have a real job and I wouldn't have to sit here and listen to this harpy sell her soul for a FOX News salary."

Where does Huckabee get off?

Usually I don't give a damn what some formerly fat-ass Goober thinks about anything, let alone celebrities, but when that Goober is leading in polls for a party Presidential nomination, my ears perk up. Given the fact that the last Goober who ran actually got elected-- twice-- this bears some attention.

Mike Huckabee, former governor and FOX News analyst, has an opinion on the life choices of a Harvard-educated, award-winning adult. WTF?

Natalie Portman is pregnant. And not married. Horrors. What are the odds that this baby will be on welfare versus be a productive taxpayer? If it's not the former, then why does Huckabee care? This baby-to-be's mother is a published scientist who makes millions of dollars as a professional entertainer with a dozen industry awards, including an Academy Award.

Is there anything on which Goober does not opine? Maybe he should just stick to getting his own life in order and stop bearing false witness on others. Just sayin'.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

If I were a Wisconsin Republican voter....

I'd be pissed.

First of all, it's becoming abundantly clear that the Governor did not ask for enough economic concessions from the teachers' and public employees' union. If the budget is such a huge problem, then why didn't he ask them to take a large pay cut in addition to paying for their benefits? They rolled so easily on paying more into their health care and pension plans, I would think they probably would have acquiesced to a 7 or 8% pay decrease as well. Dumb.

I think I can figure out his reasoning--- which was to break the unions first, as part of the big nationwide GOP Governors' plan dictated by the Koch boys, then institute more draconian pay cut measures later. It's backfiring, and now he may not even get the pension and health insurance changes. Dumb.

The Republicans have paid off their special interests with tax cuts, now they may not get the budget cuts to pay for them. Taxpayers and middle-class lose. Twice.

Secondly, even if this whole mess gets resolved tomorrow, parents have had to find day care for their kids and will likely have to extend the school year into vacation time in the summer or have their kids miss lessons. Why? Because Walker miscalculated and the Republican state house didn't count the votes. Dumb.

The point of this escapade is that public employees know that they have generous compensation packages; they're not stupid and they negotiated them. To ask them to sacrifice for the good of the community is not outrageous, but to ask them to be silent forevermore is.

I don't argue that Wisconsin schools aren't poor; judging by the fact that half the population wears plastic food on their heads 6 months out of the year, something is lacking. But let's agree that we as a nation should all be working towards obtaining the things that union employees have bargained for: assured health care and retirement benefits.

The problem is not that Wisconsin teachers have too much-- it's that the rest of us have too little.... and the Kochs and the GOP Governors are okay with that.

NOOK Color: free reading material

A few months ago I was trying to make a decision on whether to buy an Amazon Kindle or a Barnes and Noble Nook. Then the Nook Color came out. Decision made. Here are some reasons and features, as well as a few drawbacks.


1. Free material. The public library has thousands of ebooks that can be read on the Nook Color, and other e-readers... but, alas, not the Kindle. My belief is that the number of ebooks available will increase exponentially.

2. Free material II. Other Nook owners can lend books through . I've done this and it works great. The lender just emails your request and it's yours for 2 weeks, then the permission merely expires.

3. Free material III. Aggregator sites like , , and all provide longer articles that can be converted to pdf's for the Nook.

Here's what you do: a) download Adobe Editions to your computer, b) convert any above html website to pdf by using website, c) drag the downloaded pdf file to your adobe editions "library", d) when you plug in your Nook to your computer, you can drag files onto the Nook to read later.

4. Of course, there are also tons of free books off copyright at the Gutenberg project as well.

5. Nook Color acts as a mini-tablet so you can surf the web and check email with wi-fi access.

6. It's back-lit so you can read in the dark without an external light.


1. Nook Color has only 8 hours battery life, so bring your power cord on vacation.