Infidel not only knows what we need to know about international events, he knows how to make developments understandable.
Recent Republican discussion -- a term more dignified than their histrionics deserve -- of the conflict in Syria and Iraq has taken it as a given that the current strategy to defeat Dâ'ish (ISIL) is failing and that a drastic change in US policy is needed. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Obama's approach -- limiting the Western role in the war to support and airstrikes while Kurdish and Arab forces do most of the actual ground fighting -- has been producing results. It's just that many Americans are unaware of this because the American media tend to under-report war stories which do not feature Americans in a leading role.
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Jack Jodell is back at The Saturday Afternoon Post, although only for the moment. Computer and family health problems continue to take a toll. Jack fights his way in to provide his annual award for political Bozo of the Year.
Dinesh D’Souza writes a book about his time in prison and the insight this gives him about despicable Democrats. Stinque publishes D’Souza's lengthy, self-serving blurb, followed by a short funny retort.
- At Crooks and Liars, Blue Gal brings to us a different, unique, view of Star Wars.
From The Washington Post:
For the first time in more than 60 years, firearms and automobiles are killing Americans at an identical rate, according to new mortality data released this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
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For Your Consideration:
It really was gross to watch the national networks salivating over potential violence.
From The Baltimore Sun:
It was a tale of two Baltimores on Wednesday afternoon and evening, depending on whether you were watching local or national coverage of the city in the wake of a hung jury in the first trial in the Freddie Gray case.
Some network and cable journalists described a city on the edge, about to break out in violence — while local TV reporters and anchors repeatedly used the word "peaceful" to accompany overhead helicopter shots of protesters downtown and in the Penn North neighborhood.
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For Your Consideration:
Aside from this amusing exchange, also note the reappearance of the idiotic "Only solve one problem at a time" argument.
Why bother figuring out what to do about confederate monuments when heroin is a problem?
From Nate Croll at the Baltimore City Paper:
The Commission to Review Baltimore's Public Confederate Monuments heard varying public testimony on Tuesday night about what the city should do with its four monuments, proving to be the most contentious event yet in the course of the committee's evaluations.
Even nearly an hour before the hearing began, heated discussion between opposing factions could be overheard while waiting in the line for the metal detector at City Hall. This heated atmosphere came to a head during public testimony...
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It was a classic case of libertarianism at work. Folks in Mingo County, West Virginia started getting sick. These were not common cold or gee-I've-got-the-flu sicknesses. These involved kidney collapse, birth defects, cancer, death.
When a firm connection was established between the deadly illnesses and drinking water pollution from a neighboring mine, the head of the mining company swung into action. He paid for a special waterline, carrying clean, unpolluted water, directly to his own home. He wasn't about to get seriously ill from his company's pollution, not if he could help it.
The neighbors? They were on their own.
Depending on which strain of libertarian philosophy you embrace, government regulation is harmful and should be abolished, or government itself is harmful and should be abolished. For both, market forces are thought by libertarians to be largely unappreciated as decisive generators of powerful reform.
The theory is clear. If mining practices endanger the lives of workers, a mining company will have trouble hiring anyone. Who wants to die for a corporate employer? Executives within a corporation will know this and will enforce their own rational safety measures.
If a food manufacturer allows contaminated peanut butter to go into the mix, people will suffer or die and sales will suffer. Any business will take this into account, and food will be kept safe.
Apartment management companies will lose renters if fire escapes are not built effectively.
We can trust the free market to keep us safe.
That mining executive, the one who piped clean water to his own home, was convicted. It was not for polluting ground water with unsafe and illegal sludge storage practices. It was not for leaving his neighbors exposed while he protected himself.
The conviction of Don Blankenship was not even for the deaths of 29 miners in a massive explosion after an electrician was pressured to disconnect methane monitoring safety equipment. It was not for lying about the abandoned safety measures during the investigation of the fatal explosion. He was not convicted for violating safety standards. It was for conspiracy. He conspired to violate those regulations.
It was not the only criminal conviction the market has witnessed in recent months. The CEO and other top executives of the Peanut Corporation of America allowed product they knew was contaminated to go into peanut butter. Nine consumers died. Over 700 more were sickened but survived, recovering from food poisoning.
How could these things happen?
The theory of basic laissez faire economics, the foundation of libertarianism, the firm ground on which all economic calculations are based is enlightened self-interest. What happened to the enlightened part?
The lack of human conscience may be hard to understand. The mechanics of injury, illness, and death are clear as crystal. Conservative Republicans dominated the Bush/Cheney bureaucracy, and they knew, deep down in their hearts they knew, that self-interest would protect everyone.
The administration made compliance with FDA procedures voluntary. Corporate executives were not required to share the findings of company employed safety inspectors with federal officials, so they didn't. Contamination was hidden.
Contaminated cookie dough went out. After all, moms would know to cook it safely, right? Little kids, inexpert as they were in the science of precautionary preparation, licked mixing bowls, with 8 fatalities.
After 42,000 bags of tainted spinach made countless consumers sick, with 5 dying horrible deaths from E. coli, manufacturers themselves began insisting on more and tougher FDA inspections.
The theory of libertarian conservatism should have worked. But we cannot live by theory alone. When executives behave criminally, when unsuspecting people die, we need to temper theory with actual experience.
The best argument against corporate life free from regulation was made by mining executive Don Blankenship himself. Years after his neighbors began to fall ill from contaminated water, he wrote a memo that instructs us now. We should pay attention to how he regards federal regulation and worker safety.
If any of you have been asked by your group presidents, your supervisors, engineers or anyone else to do anything other than run coal (i.e., build overcasts, do construction jobs, or whatever) you need to ignore them and run coal. This memo is necessary only because we seem not to understand that coal pays the bills.
- Don Blankenship, October 19, 2005
That decisive communication did more than convict one executive.
The electrician who was ordered to disconnect safety equipment, the spark that ignited the methane gas that would have been detected, the fire that raced through to the coal dust, the chain reaction, the massive explosion, combined to extinguish the lives of 29 working people.
Blind trust in unregulated markets has been tried.
The words on paper show us it doesn't work.
The lives lost teach us it is deadly.
From the Arizona Republic:
Sen. Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican, on Friday spoke at a Scottsdale mosque, telling the Muslims in attendance that he appreciates their contributions to the community, the state and the country.
Decrying the ugly "rhetoric" coming from the presidential race, Sen. Jeff Flake on Friday delivered a powerful message of solidarity with the congregation of a north Scottsdale mosque.
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From Libertarian Michael A. LaFerrara at Principled Perspectives:
Corporate inversion, also known as “tax inversion,” is the practice of “Re-incorporating a company overseas in order to reduce the tax burden on income earned abroad.” (for more on this, see my article “Citizens for Tax Justice” vs. Rational Patriotism in The Objective Standard.)
Tax inversion has become somewhat of a trend among large U.S.-based companies in recent years. Pfizer, the big American pharmaceutical company, is the latest and one of the most high profile companies to do so. Through a merger with Allergan, the Irish drug maker, Pfizer will re-incorporate in Dublin, thus lowering its U.S. tax rate.
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From The Moderate Voice:
If you are under the age of 40 and have ever discussed politics with your peers, you have no doubt encountered those who identify as Republican but are quick to tell you that they are not like those other anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-science, anti-Muslim, right-wing extremists. They only vote Republican for the tax cuts.
It is time for those who share this faulty outlook to finally acknowledge that the party of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan has become the party of Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Fox News. It is time for them to leave the GOP.
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From Green Eagle:
I'm so sickened with the outpouring of hatred from the right these days, that I haven't been able to pay much attention to it. There is one issue, however, which has cropped up among Conservatives once again, which I would like to deal with. That is the malicious notion that the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights are restricted to U.S. citizens only.
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From conservative James Wigderson:
Great. Donald Trump supporters are turning to former President Jimmy Carter as a defense of the plan to bar all Muslims from coming into the country:
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Trey: Words fail me.
From Ars Technica:
The citizens of Woodland, N.C. have spoken loud and clear: They don't want none of them highfalutin solar panels in their good town. They scare off the kids. "All the young people are going to move out," warned Bobby Mann, a local resident concerned about the future of his burg. Worse, Mann said, the solar panels would suck up all the energy from the Sun.
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From Jon Perr at PERRspectives:
Speaking to farmers in Spencer, Iowa on Saturday., 2016 GOP front-runner Donald Trump declared, "We are going to get rid of the estate taxes that are making the farmers sell their farms." That came as no surprise, given that Congressional Republicans and virtually every recent GOP White House wannabe shares the same position. But Trump's rhetoric turned doubly ironic when said this next:
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From Tommy Christopher at the Daily Banter:
The unspeakable ugliness of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign went all the way to eleven this week when he announced his proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the United States, a move that has been roundly condemned by pretty much everyone you ask, and which immediately led to speculation that Trump is trying to throw this fight.
It’s early yet, but indications are that the ban is insanely popular with those pesky Republican voters.
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