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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Terror In France & The Threat Posed By ISIS

I mourn the loss of life in Paris from the deadly terrorist attacks, and think that it's really time to dismantle ISIS' influence in the Middle East. I expect that the French will find whomever ordered this attack and make targeted strikes at them, but I don't think that will be the end of the ongoing threat ISIS poses.

In order to deal with the threat known as ISIS, you need to attack the roots of its terrorism at their source. ISIS thrives on Sunni discontent and disenfranchisement from being under Shi'ite rule, but that's not the only factor. Other factors include one of the driest decades in the Middle East (the 2000s) and a gross mismanagement of natural resources (as was the case with the Assad regime in Syria), and regional ambitions of other state actors in the area (particularly Saudi Arabia who seeks to impose its interpretation of Islam on the region and eventually the world). The latter factor is possibly the most prominent, as Saudi Arabia and Iran are rivals for influencing the direction of Islam and the Middle East as a whole. However, it should be noted that it falls on everyone, but especially the Middle Eastern nations to start creating political and economic opportunities for their people. This also means that everyone needs to get together to close the power vacuum opened up by the Syrian Civil War through a political settlement.

How this relates to France comes as follows. France was a colonial power in the Middle East from 1919-46, colonizing both Syria and Lebanon. Many Arabs had openly opposed this arrangement after they were promised independence by joining the Allied Powers against the disintegrating Ottoman Empire, and in time, Saudi Arabia would come to openly oppose the arrangement as well.

Even after the period of colonial rule in the Middle East, France was still a major player. First in the form of its alliance with Israel, and then as a major arms supplier to the various Arab states. Additionally, France had opened up economic relations in other fields with the various Arab states. A commonly accepted epithet at the time was that if someone was an Islamist, they wouldn't attack France. The reason was often that France often opposed American/British-led military efforts in the region and was the only NATO member not part of the overall command structure. That changed when Nicolas Sarkozy became President in 2007, when he requested French re-entrance into NATO's command structure and a softer policy toward the Americans. This in turn led to a full revamping of French foreign relations in the Middle East, especially where France became more critical of some of its Arab partners. These actions have made France a target, especially now with its Islamic population attempting to gain their rights and citizenship.

The threat posed by ISIS on France and the world at-large comes from its desire to establish a global caliphate and bring the world back to the Middle Ages. To be very clear, their view of Islam (they're primarily Wahabists, an ultra-orthodox sect of Sunni Islam) and the need to wage jihad in order to achieve their caliphate is not the view of most Muslims. They are a cancer to the faith by calling for the deaths of people labled as apostates (primarily Shi'ites) or non-believers. In addition to their previously stated ambitions, they're also seeking to obtain all material necessary to construct a nuclear device of their own or to buy them outright. Having this happen would be the ultimate disaster, as they're planning to smuggle 1 to set off here in America. The fact still remains that while we should mourn the loss of life in Paris, we should be vigilant about keeping a close eye on ISIS and disrupt any and all attempts to do us harm as well.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Election in Kentucky

Events this past election day seem somewhat off from what pre-election polls had originally predicted. Now this isn't to say that polls can't be off, as sometimes people say 1 thing and then do something else that's entirely different (aka the Bradley Effect). Sometimes pollsters do end up making some errors.

Now as for the case with Kentucky's gubernatorial race, that seemed off by several factors. This video from Thom Hartmann on YouTube should explain a little bit. Thom, by interviewing TheBRADBLOG's Brad Friedman, makes the point that there were some irregularities in the vote and noted that only about 30% of the electorate actually turned out. Watch the video and draw your own conclusions.

At the same time, there should be a call on the Kentucky Secretary of State, Allison Lundergan Grimes, to order an inquiry or at least a recheck of the vote to make sure it's accurate.

Add to that new proof, according to TheBRADBLOG, via Crooks and Liars, there were several anomalies that happened in the down ticket voting, where the Democrats running in those races got more votes than Jack Conway. A note to make, there's always the possibility of voters splitting their tickets, but I'm not sure that was the case. In addition, here's a video where Thom Hartmann explains everything. As Thom notes very succinctly, there may have been some tampering with the voting machines by public officials (or as he put it, "Election Insiders"), and that had that happened, it would not be for the first time. He also mentioned an electoral phenomenon known as "Red Shift," which happened in about 6 or 8 States in 2000. It's where the Republicans won the vote for the top of the ticket, while Democrats won everything else on the down ballot. Now some of this could have been honest-to-God split-ticket voting, which is not a rare occurance in American politics, but there were many instances of previous tampering with voting machines. The tampering could have been from pre-programming to vote a certain way or hacking into them, which has been successfully done.

There's a possible stench of election fraud, but it seems unlikely to see anything done about it. It's time to stand up to the GOP and Corporate America's ongoing campaign to steal our nation's elections. Additionally, it's time to start putting pressure on TheDemocrats to start making an issue of this. We need to do everything we can to start the ball rolling to repeal the God-awful Supreme Court ruling known as Citizens United and to take our elections back.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Bernie Sanders & The Right To Vote

Watching Bernie Sanders speak to Rachel Maddow at the First in the South Presidential Forums only confirmed one thing about the GOP and their vote suppression activities. They have no courage to face the voters due to their bankrupt ideas and rush to return to our racist past, and instead attempt to make the electorate as small as possible so that they can impose their ideology on all of us. Bernie's right to call their activities out into the open and to call them cowards about losing their seats. Watch the video in its entirety and it'll be easy to see why we need Bernie as our next President.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Rejection of Keystone XL

I have to say that I'm very pleased with Barack Obama's rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline project as it would have been a disasterous deal for the rest of us. Besides possibly placing more hydrocarbons into the atmosphere and the damage caused to the environment, it would have also dealt us with very severe economic damage by shooting gas prices into the unaffordable range (think of the days of $4, or in some cases $5, per gallon of gasoline). Just think of the health risks involved and it's fairly easy to see why the project was a bad deal for us.

Not to mention, there would be little to no impact on the unemployment rate (try 35,000 jobs max) and the benefits would only go to 1 company, Koch Industries. This is while the risk of failure is passed on to the rest of us in the form of our tax dollars. This is absurd!

While this is a victory for us in the moment, I have a huge hunch that we're not done with project yet. For the company that's trying to build the pipeline can simply re-apply to do so, and it will be almost certainly granted should the GOP take The White House in 2016. This is why we need TheDemocrats in there.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Losing Rabin's Legacy

From reading about a rally that took place in Tel Aviv on Ynetnews commemorating former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, it was very heartening to read about former US President Bill Clinton's participation. What's especially heartening to understand is that in Clinton's words, Rabin refused to dehumanize the people he had to negotiate with in line with the Oslo Accords, and how because of this refusal, it would end up costing him his life.

The other piece of the equation is that Rabin was not afraid to take risks in the name of garnering peace with the Palestinians. Clinton's words were a subtle reminder to the Israeli people that the greatest opportunity for living in peace was slipping away from them by the cowardly actions of the Netanyahu government (I've written extensively on Benjamin Netanyahu's actions in various posts on my blog). By not pursuing any dialogue for peace, it opens the doors for extremists to make calls for violence on both sides.

It was good to hear that Clinton's words were echoed by both current US President Barack Obama and current Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. For Israel to walk away from the talks and blame both the Palestinians and Israeli Arabs for all past grievances, that would put a bitter stain on Rabin's legacy. A legacy that would establish peace for Israel.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Current General Election Match-Up Pollings For 2016 (200th Post)

I've been glancing at the 2016 general election poll match-ups between TheDemocrats and the GOP on, and let me say it's not looking good for the Democrats. Take the Republicans' front runners Donald Trump and Ben Carson and match them up against the Democrats' front runners Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. The nationwide polls show Trump leading Hillary by 2 points, while Carson is running neck-and-neck with both Bernie and Hillary. While there's no data on the match up between Bernie and Trump, it's very worrying.

My biggest worry is that if Hillary gets the nomination, she'll end up losing the general election in November 2016. This will leave permanent ramifications that the Democrats will not be able to undo. This is not to slam Hillary for running, as I think it helps to expose a lot of the extremism of the Republican base and the party itself. It's more that I think if she gets the nomination, she'll have an uphill struggle in winning a number of crucial states like Iowa and Ohio. That's in addition to holding onto a number of Blue States like Connecticut and Michigan if pitted against Carson, who has some ability to pull into the Democratic base for votes, and she can't really campaign against him effectively without being called a racist. Basically, that's the biggest worry for me, is that if Hillary's nominated, the election is pretty much lost.

Prospects are not much brighter for Bernie Sanders, the polls show him as almost not registering on people's radar.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Republicans' Benghazi Committee May Have Killed Their Chances For The White House In 2016

After watching Hillary Clinton take on the GOP's taxpayer-funded smear campaign (aka the Benghazi Committee), it's made me realize how the Republicans may have just killed their chances for a presidential comeback in 2016. There's no doubt in my mind that even though Hillary's the worst possible choice for TheDemocrats in terms of dealing with the obvious corruption and crony capitalism taking place under our noses, having the Republicans actually force her out during the primaries is more or less a huge advantage for their worst nightmare, Bernie Sanders. I've posted how on Facebook, and I'll share that post here:

From watching the #BenghaziCommittee hearings on C-SPAN, I think that Representative Elijah E. Cummings put it best by...
Posted by Jgsf1987 on Thursday, October 22, 2015
Then again it could strengthen Hillary's hand, but my thinking in this case is that it'll give Bernie the boost he needs to secure the nomination.

My reason for not wanting Hillary to win can be found here. One of the biggest turn-offs also about Hillary is that she's not likely to go after Wall Street (Based on published data from OpenSecretsDC of the Center for Responsive Politics, Hillary's primary big-donors are banks and investment companies). Additionally, she's getting campaign funding from private prison companies such as Corrections Corporation of America. That story from Daily Kos will explain everything. It makes me concerned that she's going to continue the old tough on crime through harsher sentences routine, but saying she's for lighter sentences to appease liberals and progressives. The truth is we need to end the private corrections industry altogether.

That's my reason for backing Bernie, he's beholden to noone. Speaking of which, when he got a $2,700 donation from Martin Shkreli (the CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals), he then donated it to a health clinic in Washignton, D.C. By saying no thanks to Shkreli, this is why Bernie's going to be the Republicans' worst nightmare.

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