“Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.” - George W. Bush

All The Best


I want to thank everyone who participated in the Elephant Bar over the past twelve years. We had millions of visitors from all around the World and you were part of it. Over the past dozen years, two or three times a night, I would open my laptop and some of you were always there. I will miss that.

My plans are to continue my work with technology and architecture. You know my interests and thoughts.

At times, things would get a little rough in the EB. To those of you that I may have offended over the years, I apologize. From all of you, I learned and grew.

An elephant never forgets.
Be well.

Deuce, 21 June 2018

Monday, June 08, 2015

The Republican Party of Stupid War on Science: St. Augustine, Florida

Sea Rise Slowly Swallowing St. Augustine, 

America's Oldest City 

Rising waters from the Atlantic Ocean are threatening to submerge America's oldest city and all its historical sights. 
Founded by the Spanish in the mid-16th century, St. Augustine, Florida, is the oldest continously occupied city in the U.S., and runs on a powerful tourism industry of visitors seeking out living history, such as the Castillo de San Marcos fortress. 
Waters from the Atlantic regularly flood the city, but residents and officials agree that sea level rise is getting worse. 

The Castillo de San Marcos fort, built over 450 years ago, is separated from the Matanzas River by a sea wall in St. Augustine, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
    "If you want to benefit from the fact we've been here for 450 years, you have the responsibility to look forward to the next 450," Bill Hamilton, a 63-year-old horticulturist whose family has lived in the city since the 1950s, said. "Is St. Augustine even going to be here? We owe it to the people coming after us to leave the city in good shape."
    St. Augustine is one of many chronically flooded communities along Florida's 1,200-mile coastline, and officials in these diverse places share a common concern: They're afraid their buildings and economies will be further inundated by rising seas in just a couple of decades. The effects are a daily reality in much of Florida. Drinking water wells are fouled by seawater. Higher tides and storm surges make for more frequent road flooding from Jacksonville to Key West, and they're overburdening aging flood-control systems.
    But the state has yet to offer a clear plan or coordination to address what local officials across Florida's coast see as a slow-moving emergency. Republican Gov. Rick Scott is skeptical of manmade climate change and has put aside the task of preparing for sea level rise, an Associated Press review of thousands of emails and documents pertaining to the state's preparations for rising seas found.
    Despite warnings from water experts and climate scientists about risks to cities and drinking water, skepticism over sea-level projections and climate-change science has hampered planning efforts at all levels of government, the records showed. Florida's environmental agencies under Scott have been downsized and retooled, making them less effective at coordinating sea-level-rise planning in the state, the documents showed.
    "If I were governor, I'd be out there talking about it (sea -level rise) every day," said Eric Buermann, the former general counsel to the Republican Party of Florida who also served as a water district governing board member.
    "I think he's really got to grab ahold of this, set a vision, a long-term vision, and rally the people behind it. Unless you're going to build a sea wall around South Florida, what's the plan?"
    The issue presents a public works challenge that could cost billions here and nationwide. In the third-most populous U.S. state, where most residents live near a coast, municipalities say they need statewide coordination and aid to prepare for the costly road ahead.
    Communities like St. Augustine can do only so much alone. If one city builds a seawall, it might divert water to a neighbor. Cities also lack the technology, money and manpower to keep back the seas by themselves.
    In a brief interview with the AP in March, Scott wouldn't address whether the state had a long-range plan. He cited his support for Everglades restoration and some flood-control projects as progress, but said cities and counties should contact environmental and water agencies to find answers — though Scott and a GOP-led Legislature have slashed billions in funding from those agencies. Spokespeople for the water districts and other agencies disputed that cuts have affected their abilities to plan.
    "We will continue to make investments and find solutions to protect our environment and preserve Florida's natural beauty for our future generations," the governor said in a statement.
    Florida's Department of Environmental Protection is in charge of protecting the state environment and water, but has taken no official position on sea- level rise, according to documents. DEP spokeswoman Lauren Engel said the agency's strategy is to aid local communities and others through the state's routine beach-nourishment and water-monitoring programs.
    In St. Augustine, downtown streets around 19th century buildings built by oil tycoon Henry Flagler often close during nor'easters because of flooding. While the city's proximity to the sea has made flooding a problem, residents say it's worsened over the past 15 to 20 years.
    St. Augustine's civil engineer says that the low-lying village will probably need a New Orleans-style pumping system to keep water out — but that but no one knows exactly what to do and the state's been unhelpful.
    "Only when the frequency of flooding increases will people get nervous about it, and by then it will be too late," engineer Reuben Franklin said. "There's no guidance from the state or federal level. … Everything I've found to help I've gotten by searching the Internet."
    Across coastal Florida, sea levels are rising faster than previously measured, according to federal estimates. In addition to more flooding at high tide, increasing sea levels also mean higher surges during tropical storms and hurricanes, and more inundation of drinking wells throughout Florida.
    Water quality is a big concern for many communities. It's especially bad in South Florida — just north of Miami, Hallandale Beach has abandoned six of eight drinking water wells because of saltwater intrusion. Wells in northeast and Central Florida are deemed at risk, too.
    While South Florida water officials have led the charge in addressing sea level rise concerns in their area, their attempt to organize a statewide plan was met with indifference, documents show. The Scott administration has organized just a few conference calls to coordinate local efforts, records show. Those came only after Florida's water district managers asked DEP for help.
    In a recent visit to Everglades National Park, President Barack Obama said the wetlands, vital to Florida's tourism economy and drinking-water supply, are threatened by infusions of saltwater from rising seas.
    The list of other problems across the state is growing. Miami Beach is spending $400 million on new stormwater pumps to keep seawater from overwhelming an outdated sewer system.
    In St. Augustine, homes built on sand dunes teeter over open space as erosion eats at the foundations. Beachside hotel owners worry about their livelihoods.
    Tampa and Miami are particularly vulnerable to rising seas — many roads and bridges weren't designed to handle higher tides, according to the National Climate Change Assessment. Officials say Daytona Beach roads, too, flood more often than in the 1990s.
    South Miami passed a resolution calling for South Florida to secede from the more conservative northern half of the state so it could deal with climate change itself.
    Insurance giant Swiss Re has estimated that the economy in southeast Florida could sustain $33 billion in damage from rising seas and other climate-related damage in 2030, according to the Miami-Dade Sea Level Rise Task Force.
    Most towns say they cannot afford the cost of climate-change studies or regional coordination.
    "For us, it's a reality, it's not a political issue," said Courtney Barker, city manager of Satellite Beach. The town near Cape Canaveral used to flood during tropical weather, but now just a heavy rainstorm can make roads impassable for commuters.
    "When you have to listen to that mantra, 'Climate change, is it real or not?' you kind of chuckle, because you see it," Barker said.
    Scott administration officials are moving forward on a five-year plan that will provide basic guidance to cities dealing with sea level rise. Scott has appointed the Department of Economic Opportunity as the lead agency overseeing the project.
    The DEO has received nearly $1 million in federal grants for the plan. More than half has been spent on staff time and travel or hasn't yet been allocated, according to documents. The rest, about $450,000, went to contract researchers who are helping create the document, due in 2016.
    Agency spokeswoman Jessica Sims wouldn't comment and refused requests for the program's manager to be interviewed.


    1. Republican Gov. Rick Scott is skeptical of manmade climate change and has put aside the task of preparing for sea level rise, an Associated Press review of thousands of emails and documents pertaining to the state’s preparations for rising seas found.

    2. In recent months, Republican-led House committees have proposed giving Congress greater control over NSF's research priorities. Climate science programs at NSF and the Department of Energy in 2016 may get cut by 8 percent, while NASA's earth science budget may be trimmed to $1.45 billion, 25 percent less than the amount President Obama requested for the program (ClimateWire, May 1). The panels may redirect the money to other disciplines considered critical to American innovation, leaving overall research spending at historical levels.

      "Conservatives are skeptical of the use of science to support policy regimes they don't agree with," Daniel Sarewitz, co-director of the consortium for science, policy and outcomes at Arizona State University, said in an interview in March.

    3. Jesus is a political prisoner: An American history of Christianity’s corruption

      According to the Pew Research Center, the Christian share of the population has declined in recent years from 78.4 percent to 70.6 percent. At the same time, the number of Americans identifying as religiously unaffiliated – including atheists and agnostics – has increased from 16.1 percent to 22.8 percent. The study attributes the changing religious landscape largely to millennials, who attend church far less than previous generations. But the trend is noticeable among older demographics as well. So what are to we make of these findings?

      They should be seen, in part, as an inevitable result of the politicization of Christianity. Politics and religion have always made uneasy bedfellows, but there was a definitive shift in America’s political and religious culture in the 1940s that set Christianity on its current course. As historian Kevin Kruse notes in a recent essay, it was during this period that Christian America was co-opted by corporate America. Following the Great Depression, Big Business had something of an image problem, and needed rebranding. Also problematic was FDR’s New Deal, which was indispensable to the middle class but anathema to corporate interests.

      Industrialists realized, Kruse writes, that, “As men of God, ministers could voice the same conservative complaints as business leaders, but without any suspicion that they were motivated by self-interest.” Kruse goes on to explain how religious authorities were recruited by business leaders: “It was a watershed moment – the beginning of a movement that would advance over the 1940s and early 1950s a new blend of conservative religion, economics, and politics that one observer aptly anointed Christian libertarianism.” Under the guise of this ideology, American clergy began to demonize the state: individualism was exalted; secularism was synonymous with socialism; and collectivism became the preferred boogeyman of businessmen and Christians. In short, capitalists purchased the pulpits of preachers, who equated economic freedom with spiritual salvation, God with limited government.

      This alliance paved the way for the prosperity gospel, a preposterous doctrine according to which godliness and wealth are one and the same. Although the prosperity gospel emerged in the late 1940s as an independent Pentecostal movement, it aligned perfectly with the free market theology of Christian libertarianism.

      Much like Christian libertarianism, the prosperity gospel is a swindle, a half-baked justification for hucksterism and greed. It’s also an affront to Christ, who told his followers “to sell what you have and give to the poor,” to deny one’s self and “take nothing for the journey.” I’m not a Christian, but these are clearly not the words of a libertarian or a capitalist. That anyone could wrest a doctrine of self-interest out of Christ’s teaching is a miracle of misinterpretation. Christ was a prophet, not a profiteer. Prosperity theology is the gospel of those who want to feel good about serving themselves, who want to make a virtue of vice. And it’s alive and well in America today, thanks, in part, to the corruption of Christianity by entrenched economic interests.


      1. {...}The politicization of Christianity was hastened in the 1970s and ’80s, as conservative Protestants became politically active. The culture wars were reignited, and conservatives rallied to defend what they believed were traditional family values. The movement was explicitly religious, and fueled by fundamentalism. As evangelical scholar Lynn Buzzard observed, conservative Christians were told to “reject the division of human affairs into the secular and sacred and insist, instead, that there is no arena of human activity, including law and politics, which is outside of God’s lordship.”

        This unholy union of religion and politics has proven disastrous, particularly in the era of PACs, which allow economic libertarians to manipulate conservative Christians for political purposes. It has also created a demand-side problem in the Republican Party. Candidates are forced, increasingly, to pander to religious lunatics who openly pine for theocracy, and who insist on imposing a religious test on political candidates. The results of this have been evident in recent presidential primaries, with Republican candidates seeking to out-Christian each other for votes. This has real consequences. It’s the principal source of anti-intellectualism in the GOP. And it’s the reason the Republican Party doesn’t pay a political price for denying science as a basis for public policy.


      2. There isn’t another serious country in the world in which presidential candidates are rewarded for their abject stupidity as they are in today’s GOP.

        The GOP’s religious problem has only intensified in recent years. The worst, most reactionary elements of the right wing have united under the banner of Christianity. The party has since become a theo-political movement, unable to govern and unwilling to compromise. The Republican ranks are brimming with bigots and unthinking purists with no real interest in governance. Much of the base consists of old, disconnected white people who are fearful of modernity and nostalgic for an America that exists only in their minds. We’re faced with enormous problems like climate change and rising inequality, and political discourse is dominated by religious demagoguery. This has been equally destructive to Christianity and the country’s political process.

        Is it any wonder people are turning away from this politicized brand of Christianity? Young Americans don’t give a damn about the culture war. We accept that we live in a secular and pluralistic society. The GOP’s opposition to LGBT rights is a trite anachronism to most people, not a moral crusade. When Republicans are indignant about poor people abusing food stamps, but uninterested in bankers looting middle class pensions, something is amiss. When “value voters” prioritize tax breaks for the wealthy over expanded health care for the poor, most Americans – including earnest Christians – are justifiably turned off.

        That so many for so long have cared so little about actual justice is a disgrace. That they’ve done so under the cover of Christianity only makes it worse. The founding fathers placed a wall between church and state for a reason: They knew the alternative would be ruinous to both. They were right. Christianity has been unmoored from its roots, poisoned by the pursuit of worldly power; the faith ought to pay a price for that. And if that price also means less religion in politics, that’s a good thing – for everyone.

        Sean Illing teaches political theory at Louisiana State University.


      3. The Republican ranks are brimming with bigots and unthinking purists with no real interest in governance. Much of the base consists of old, disconnected white people who are fearful of modernity and nostalgic for an America that exists only in their minds.

    4. How Big Business Invented the Theology of ‘Christian Libertarianism’ and the Gospel of Free Markets

      The inside history of how Evangelical preachers were used to infuse society with the economic dogma that plagues us today.

      By Kevin Kruse / AlterNet June 1, 2015

      During the Great Depression, big business needed rebranding. Blamed for the crash, belittled in the press, and beset by the New Deal’s regulatory state, corporate leaders decided they had to improve their image, and soon. “The public does not understand industry,” an executive complained, “because industry itself has made no effort to tell its story; to show the people of this country that our high living standards have risen almost altogether from the civilization which industrial activity has set up.”

      Accordingly, corporate leaders launched a public relations campaign for capitalism itself. In 1934, the National Association of Manufacturers hired its first public relations director in its four decades of existence, expanding its annual budget in that field from just $36,000 to nearly $800,000 three years later, a sum that represented half of its total budget. NAM marketed the miracles of “free enterprise” with a wide array of advertisements, direct mail, films, radio programs, a speakers’ bureau, and a press service that provided prefabricated editorials and news stories for 7500 newspapers. Ultimately, though, the organization’s efforts at self-promotion were generally dismissed as precisely that.

      While old business lobbies like NAM couldn’t sell capitalism effectively, neither could new ones created especially for the cause. The American Liberty League, founded in 1934, originally seemed business’s best bet. It received lavish financial support from corporate leaders, notably at Du Pont and General Motors, but ultimately their prominence in the group crippled its effectiveness. Jim Farley, then head of the Democratic Party, famously joked that it ought to be called the “American Cellophane League” because “first, it’s a Du Pont product and second, you can see right through it.”

      As the 1930s came to a close, corporate leaders looked over the returns on their investment and realized the millions spent had not swayed public opinion in the slightest. The image of big business still needed repackaging. In a 1939 address to the US Chamber of Commerce, H.W. Prentis of the Armstrong Cork Company proposed the way forward. “Economic facts are important, but they will never check the virus of collectivism,” he warned; “the only antidote is a revival of American patriotism and religious faith.” Prentis’ speech thrilled the Chamber and boardrooms across America. Soon propelled to NAM’s presidency, he continued to tell corporate leaders to get religion. His 1940 presidential address, promoted heavily in the Wall Street Journal and broadcast live on both ABC and CBS radio, promised that business’s salvation lay in “a strengthening of the spiritual concept that underlies our American way of life.”


      1. {...}

        Accordingly, corporate America began marketing a new fusion of faith, freedom and free enterprise. These values had been conflated before, of course, but in the early 1940s they manifested in a decidedly new form. Previously, when Americans thought about the relationship between religion, politics and business, they gave little thought to the role of the national state, largely because it was so small it gave little thought to any of them. But now that the federal government had grown so significantly, corporate leaders sought to convince Americans that the New Deal threatened not only the economic freedoms of business leaders, but the religious and political freedoms of ordinary citizens as well. They worked tirelessly throughout the 1940s and 1950s to advance a new ideology that one observer aptly anointed “Christian libertarianism.”

        Initially, businessmen outsourced this campaign to an unlikely set of champions: ministers. Though this decision seemed unorthodox, the logic was laid out clearly in private. “Recent polls indicate that America’s clergymen are a powerful influence in determining the thinking and acting of the people in the economic realm,” noted one organizer, and so business leaders should “enlist large numbers of clergymen” to “act as minutemen, carrying the message upon all proper occasions throughout their several communities.”

        Over the second half of the 1940s, corporate leaders lavishly funded new organizations of ministers who would make their case for them. Some of these groups secured donations from a broad array of businessmen. Reverend James W. Fifield’s Spiritual Mobilization, for instance, amassed millions in corporate and personal checks from leaders at companies such as General Motors, Chrysler, US Steel, Republic Steel, International Harvester, Firestone Tire and Rubber, Sun Oil, Gulf Oil, Standard Oil of New Jersey, Colgate-Palmolive-Peet and countless more. Others leaned heavily on the generosity of a single patron. The Christian Freedom Foundation, created by Reverend Norman Vincent Peale and then led by layman Howard Kershner, was sustained almost single-handedly by Sun Oil President J. Howard Pew. The Pew family’s contributions to the organization averaged more than $300,000 a year for twenty-five years.


      2. {...}
        With this generous funding, ministers in these organizations spread the arguments of Christian libertarianism. “I hold,” Reverend Fifield asserted, “that the blessings of capitalism come from God. A system that provides so much for the common good and happiness must flourish under the favor of the Almighty.” But concern for the “common good” was uncommon in their arguments, which tended instead to emphasize the values of individualism. In their telling, Christianity and capitalism were indistinguishable on this issue: both systems rested on the fundamental belief that an individual would rise or fall on his or her own merit alone. Just as the saintly ascended to Heaven and sinners fell to Hell, the worthy rose to riches while the wretched were resigned to the poorhouse.


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    7. This "God loves me more than thou, thus he made me rich" story has been around at least 13,000 years, and probably a lot more than that.

      That the people might eventually throw off this yoke of ignorance is the "nightmare to end all nightmares" of the Robber Baron Class.

    8. I see the ole b00bster really managed to piss a few people off this week.

      Way to go b00bie!

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    10. Texas officer on leave after video shows him pushing teen to ground, pointing gun at others

      MCKINNEY, Texas — The Associated Press

      Published Monday, Jun. 08, 2015 9:13AM EDT

      Last updated Monday, Jun. 08, 2015 2:14PM EDT


      more US copper fun...

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    12. This is interesting:

      "Supreme Court Backs White House on Jerusalem Passport Dispute
      By ADAM LIPTAKJUNE 8, 2015

      WASHINGTON — In an important separation-of-powers decision, the Supreme Court on Monday ruled that Congress may not require the State Department to indicate in passports that Jerusalem is part of Israel.

      The vote was 6 to 3, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel A. Alito Jr. dissenting.

      Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for five justices, said the question of the status of Jerusalem is “a delicate subject.” But he said the Constitution conferred exclusive authority on the president to recognize foreign governments.

      In dissent, Chief Justice Roberts said the majority had taken a bold step. “Today’s decision is a first,” he wrote. “Never before has this court accepted a president’s direct defiance of an act of Congress in the field of foreign affairs.”

      The case concerned a 2002 law that instructed the State Department to “record the place of birth as Israel” in the passports of American children born in Jerusalem if their parents asked. It was brought by the parents of Menachem B. Zivotofsky, who was born not long after Congress enacted the law. Under the State Department’s policies, their son’s passport says that he was born in Jerusalem; they sought to have it say Israel.

      President George W. Bush signed the law, part of an appropriations bill, but said he would not follow the Jerusalem provision because it “impermissibly interferes with the president’s constitutional authority to conduct the nation’s foreign affairs.”

      The Obama administration also objects to the provision and has refused to follow it. In its Supreme Court briefs, it told the justices that the status of Jerusalem should be resolved by negotiations between Arabs and Israelis.

      The case, Zivotofsky v. Kerry, No. 13-628, thus presented an important test of the dueling roles of Congress and the president in the conduct of foreign affairs.

      The case was before the justices once before, on a preliminary issue. In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that the case did not involve a “political question” beyond the federal courts’ power to decide and returned the case to an appeals court.

      In 2013, the appeals court ruled for the executive branch, saying the passport requirement impermissibly intruded on what it said was the president’s exclusive power to recognize foreign governments"


      1. .

        In dissent, Chief Justice Roberts said the majority had taken a bold step. “Today’s decision is a first,” he wrote. “Never before has this court accepted a president’s direct defiance of an act of Congress in the field of foreign affairs.”

        This would surprise me. If true.


      2. The only good solution?

        The complete and total destruction of the Palestinian National Movement.

        Just like numerous other peoples in the world that do not have a "nation". The figment of Palestine must be destroyed.

        The arabs that occupy the lands of Gaza and the west bank should be allow to choose to be part of Egypt, Jordan or Israel.

        After all Gaza was part and parcel part of Egypt until recently and the same is true for the majority of arabs of the west bank, they USED to be affiliated with Jordan. And those arabs that live in and around Israel's capital Jerusalem should be offered citizenship.

        OF course, no arabs that have been members of Fatah, Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Force 17, ISIS, ISIL, Hezbollah, the PA, (and any other violent national or islamic movements need apply)

        The reasonable solution is he same as the Kurds have had to deal with, not to mention some other 83 groups of folks far more deserving that the people with can't even say their name.... The Palestinians....

        The experiment is over and it failed. But there will be no Syria or Jordan before it's over either... So?

      3. there is no need for a 22nd arab nation committed to jihad in this world....

      4. The Final Solution. Always a good bet.

      5. Your specious usage of the term "FINAL SOLUTION" is un-just.

        The reasonable solution to ensure the average arab has life liberty and pursuit of happiness is NOT creating an additional despotic, murderous, Jihadist nation.

        Maybe someday you will learn about the arab world and it's treatment of each other, let alone those is hates...

      6. As it stands now?

        Arabs killing arabs still leads the world in tallies...

        Assad has killed more palestinians in 40 months than died in the war between the arabs and the jews in the last 65 years.

        Great track record your side has deuce.

      7. But Deuce brings up the "Final Solution"..

        Let's remember that the Germans and the Arabs conspired to have the final solution to the Jewish question. Mass extermination.

        The solution for not creating another jihadist nation hardly is about genocide of a people, but rather the SAVING of the people from the evil despots that now control them, their own leaders...


        Not one word of genocide was offered.

        Maybe the leadership in the arab world is now coming to america in baltimore and other places..


    13. more on American Culture:


      Far worse is American TV’s tendency to fetishize and offer “wholesome” reality TV. The prime example, and now primary illustration of horror and hypocrisy, is TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting.

      The point of the show, always, has been the cuteness and adorability of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, and their enormous brood, engaging in good Christian living. Strict rules about dating, sex, consumption of popular culture. A Christian education and, you know, old-fashioned family values. Something to make a portion of the viewership stand up and cheer.

      Then it turned out that eldest son, Josh had, some years ago, at 14, molested four of his sisters and a babysitter. His parents waited 16 months before telling authorities about their son’s actions. On the family’s Facebook page recently, the parents wrote, “That dark and difficult time caused us to seek God like never before.” Not the cops, God. Now the family and Josh himself refer to the matter as Josh’s “mistakes.”

      It’s at this point that the Duggars and TLC leave the rest of us howling in rage and disgust. But it gets worse. The Duggars spoke exclusively to Fox News – the most sympathetic of outlets for “Christian living” people, one assumes – and there was anger from the Duggars. “It’s been an unprecedented attack on our family,” Jim Bob said. Meanwhile, Fox’s Megyn Kelly nudged the family to talk about “the liberal media” attacking them.

      The mess spreads further. The Duggars have close ties to and have supported right-wing Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. In public, Huckabee has also referred to the molestation as “mistakes.” This from the man who berated Barack Obama for allowing his daughters to listen to BeyoncĂ©’s music.

      What’s repellent is glossing over the fact that children were molested. And this fact is being spun as somehow less than it is because the Duggars are wholesome, the show is wholesome and wholesome people work out their “mistakes” by talking to God, or such. TLC has not cancelled 19 Kids and Counting. It’s a cash cow, this epic of wholesomeness. According to Entertainment Weekly, it earned a reported $25-million in ad revenue this year.

      It’s a horror story, actually. Far more horrific, loathsome and objectionable than a bunch of people on TV excited about getting cash to pay their medical bills."


      Good ole Fox News - b00bies FAV.

    14. U.S. Standard of Living Index ties High of +52.


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    16. .

      TSA Report:

      The TSA has 73 people working for it who are on the terrorist watchlist. The reason? TSA does not have access to certain parts of the watchlist.

      The TSA is allowed to frisk grandmas and small children. They are not allowed to profile.

      They are allowed to hire people on the terrorist watchlist. While their main job is to protect air travel from terrorists, they are not allowed access to parts of a list that identifies potential terrorists.

      What's wrong with this picture?


      1. .

        TSA is not designed to assure security. It's designed to make people think they are secure.

        A huge kabuki that inconveniences (and worse) passengers while doing nothing to protect them. An expensive sham.


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      3. The Iraqi Army No Longer Exists

        June 7, 2015
        By Barry Posen

        ISIS’s victory in Ramadi reveals that containment is the best the U.S. can do for now.

        Middle East / Iraq / Commentary

        The fog of war lies thick over the battlefields of Iraq and Syria. Deliberate enemy deception, willful self-deception, and the complexity of large-scale combat ensure that the truth about war is almost always obscured by a kind of fog. Occasionally a major event parts the clouds and reveals a few fragments of truth, only to have the fog close in again. The collapse of Iraqi defenses in Ramadi is one such event. But we must look quickly to learn anything at all.
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        Barry R. Posen is Ford International Professor of Political Science at MIT, Director of the MIT Security Studies Program, and serves on the Executive Committee of Seminar XXI. Full Bio

      4. The most important fact revealed by ISIS’s victory is that the “Iraqi Army” no longer exists. This is a different observation from that of Secretary of Defense Carter, who avers that they lost the will to fight. Some people did lose the will to fight in Ramadi. But, we should ask a more fundamental question. Ramadi was under siege for months. How is it that few if any reinforcements were sent to defend a city deemed critical to the defense of Baghdad itself? Public sources reported some fourteen divisions in the Iraqi Army in 2014. Between three and five were destroyed in Mosul, leaving nine. At most one was defending Ramadi. Where were the rest? Indeed, where are they now? How is it that Shiite militias must be called upon to liberate Ramadi? If the Iraqi Army has evaporated, or perhaps more accurately deteriorated into a collection of local militias and palace guards, then the U.S.“re-training” mission in Iraq is vastly more difficult than we have been led to believe. Having claimed to build an Iraqi Army, which seems not to exist, and which one doubts ever really existed, the U.S. military is now trying to build another one, from the ground up. Why will things turn out better this time?

        ISIS’s victory in Ramadi also reveals that it is quite capable, not merely tactically, but at the “operational level.” Put another way, it is good not merely at fights, which require committed fanatics who are good with a gun, but at campaigns, which require canny commanders, logistical support, coordinated mutually supporting battles, movement, and intelligence. In Ramadi, despite U.S. command of the air, ISIS was able to sustain its forces for many months. They were able to manufacture very large truck bombs, requiring tons of explosives, to support their final offensive. They attacked under the cover of a sandstorm, which helped neutralize U.S. air power.
        The most important fact revealed by ISIS’s victory is that the “Iraqi Army” no longer exists.

        Finally, in light of ISIS’s success in Ramadi, we must revisit claimed coalition successes such as the fight at the Syrian border town of Kobani, and the “victory” in Tikrit. It was a mystery why ISIS fought so hard for a worthless border town, in the face of waves of U.S. air attacks. In retrospect, one suspects that they were “going to school” on us—spending lives and equipment to learn how to operate in the face of sustained U.S. air attack, which they apparently have figured out how to do. Central Command has claimed that since the campaign began air attacks have killed 8,500 ISIS fighters. These claims seem implausible. The battle of Tikrit, viewed in light of the Ramadi success, now appears as a matador’s cape, a diversionary operation to draw the attention of Iraqi government forces, militias, the Iranians, and the U.S. away from Anbar province and ISIS’s preparations for the attack on Ramadi. Press reports of ISIS casualties in Tikrit do not suggest large losses. Tikrit was well defended, but not heavily defended — an economy-of-force operation, reliant largely on IEDs. If so, the amount of time and energy and collateral damage it required to re-take that town bodes ill for future attacks on places that ISIS might heavily defend, such as Mosul


      5. Finally, in light of ISIS’s success in Ramadi, we must revisit claimed coalition successes such as the fight at the Syrian border town of Kobani, and the “victory” in Tikrit. It was a mystery why ISIS fought so hard for a worthless border town, in the face of waves of U.S. air attacks. In retrospect, one suspects that they were “going to school” on us—spending lives and equipment to learn how to operate in the face of sustained U.S. air attack, which they apparently have figured out how to do. Central Command has claimed that since the campaign began air attacks have killed 8,500 ISIS fighters. These claims seem implausible. The battle of Tikrit, viewed in light of the Ramadi success, now appears as a matador’s cape, a diversionary operation to draw the attention of Iraqi government forces, militias, the Iranians, and the U.S. away from Anbar province and ISIS’s preparations for the attack on Ramadi. Press reports of ISIS casualties in Tikrit do not suggest large losses. Tikrit was well defended, but not heavily defended — an economy-of-force operation, reliant largely on IEDs. If so, the amount of time and energy and collateral damage it required to re-take that town bodes ill for future attacks on places that ISIS might heavily defend, such as Mosul.

        (Read more about containment and the fight against ISIS here)

        Of course, the fog of war only lifted briefly, and we still cannot see the whole picture, which may be worse, or for that matter, better. But the notion that the Iraqi Army, and the supporting U.S.-led coalition, can soon go on the offensive against ISIS seems a fantasy. If instead, an offensive is launched with the collection of Shia militias that now forms the core of the Iraqi government’s military power, heavily supported by U.S. airstrikes, then we can be sure that any victories they might enjoy will be immensely destructive to the local infrastructure, and will be followed by the most brutal repression of the local Sunni Arab population — not the victory for Iraqi civil society U.S. leaders seek, but rather a guarantee of new waves of recruits for jihad.

        What policy therefore ought the U.S. to follow? The ingredients exist in the region for a loose ring of containment around ISIS. That ring strengthens when ISIS pushes into areas populated by other ethnic or religious groups. The U.S. should buck up these defenders with weapons, money, intelligence, and air strikes, when they are under pressure, but should be under no illusions about their capability to defeat ISIS, re-occupy huge swathes of Iraq, and bring those areas into a cohesive Iraqi political community.


      6. >>The ingredients exist in the region for a loose ring of containment around ISIS.<<

    17. http://www.elal.com/en/USA/Pages/default.aspx?utm_source=adcenter&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=ELAL_USA_Brand_Adcenter


    18. While the Republicans are busy declaring defeat:

      WASHINGTON: The United States and its allies carried out 22 air strikes against Islamic States militants in Syria and Iraq during a 24-hour period to Sunday, a U.S. military statement said.

      Five of the 11 air raids in Syria targeted Islamic State fighters, vehicles and weapons near the northern city of Kobani, it said. In Iraq, 11 air strikes hit targets near five different cities, the statement said. The attacks were carried out between 8 a.m. (0600 BST) Saturday and 8 a.m. (0600 BST) Sunday.


      (Reporting by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

      - Reuters

      1. And, today,
        WASHINGTON: The United States and its allies conducted 21 air strikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria during a 24-hour period ending on Monday, a US military statement said.

        Fourteen strikes in Iraq hit targets near seven different cities, the statement said.

        In Syria, five of the seven air raids hit militant targets near the northern town of Kobani.

        The attacks were carried out during the 24-hour period ended at 8am local time (1.00am EDT) on Monday, it said.

      2. Yep America just keep bombing...

        Accomplished nothing...

      3. .

        43 airstrikes in 2 days. Depending on the ordinance used (JDAMS, Hellfire) the cost could range anywhere from $1 million to $4 million for the two days (not counting the support which is likely much more expensive). Hopefully, they got something more than pick-up trucks and the odd ISIS fighter.


      4. most likely a few dozen civilians in tow...

    19. Deuce, you claim my idea that the destruction of the Palestinian National Project was and is the FINAL Solution.

      DO you condemn Hamas and Fatah for calling for the total destruction of Israel and the Jewish people as an actual continuation of the REAL Final Solution?

      DO you condemn Iran for advocating a holiday called "A day without Israel", calling it a virus that needs to be cut out?

      Are they not "final solutions"?

      They advocate the actual murder of millions of Jews...

      Where are your words?

    20. .

      WiO, as I recall you used to talk to Allen outside this blog. Any news on him?

      As I remember, over the last couple months he was here, he mentioned a couple times that he was having some health problems. I was just wondering how he was doing.


      1. .

        There is a little sentimental value. I believe he was the first guy I argued with here.



      2. .

        That's worrisome. Hope he's all right.


    21. As this article may give rise to number of misinterpretations, let me make two things clear at the outset.

      First, the world has a lot to be grateful to the United States, particularly around the middle and during the second half of the last century.


      Second, I do not condone Russia’s invasion of Ukraine nor China’s brinkmanship in the South China Sea. Both contribute to regional and global instability and rising tensions.

      Hypocritical Hegemon

      1. .

        The U.S. has lost its compass

        The world has changed beyond recognition since the turn of the century. The former cold war global chessboard has disintegrated.

        A new one is in the making, though its structure remains uncertain, in great part because of the difficulties of the erstwhile dominant players to adjust to the new ones.

        The establishment of the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) resulted principally from the refusal of the U.S. government to make the necessary adjustments in the structure of existing international financial institutions, notably the IMF, as Ben Bernanke recently conceded.

        The collapse of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Doha Round — and the consequent hijacking of the trade agenda by Washington with exclusionary mega-regional trade deals, TTIP and TPP – are not any more helpful.

        They presage a world where “we” — and not “they” (the Chinese) — can write the rules of the 21st century trade framework. The arrogant pursuit of such divisiveness further undermines the possibility of building a new, solid and legitimate global governance structure.

        The author seems to think the US has the power to bring about such a world. Here is a rather lengthy analysis that would argue the opposite, that the US going forward could find itself more and more on the periphery of events.

        The Geopolitics of American Global Decline