Notes and Comment Blog


Funny way to save someone’s life

Aug 4th, 2016 6:05 pm | By

Fathers and daughters, Swansea and Jeddah.

A woman who claims her father has kept her locked up against her will in Saudi Arabia must be allowed to return to Britain, a UK judge has ruled.

Amina Al-Jeffery, 21, who was born and brought up in Swansea, was taken to Jeddah in 2012 by her father, Mohammed, who said he did it to “save her life”.

She says he did it because she kissed a guy.

The judge said the father had to let her return and pay her airfare – but he also said there was no way to compel him.

Mr Justice Holman added: “There are no conventions between Britain and Saudi Arabia. The courts in Saudi Arabia would not even recognise the basis of the claim, because it does not recognise dual nationality.”

Some more things Saudi Arabia doesn’t recognize: human rights, women’s rights, children’s rights, secular law, international law…



He has never served any other cause except for his own greed and wealth

Aug 4th, 2016 5:20 pm | By

Some veterans are unhappy with Trump. The Guardian reports:

The backlash against Donald Trump escalated on Thursday as angry US military veterans arrived on Capitol Hill urging Republican leaders to withdraw their support for the party’s nominee.

The protest came after a torrid week for the maverick candidate, whose criticism of Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of an American Muslim soldier killed in Iraq in 2004, triggered a Republican revolt.

“Maverick”? That’s a stupid word for what he is. (It was a label for Palin, too. I guess it’s a euphemism for totally unqualified and unfit?)

The veterans presented a petition on Thursday to the office of Senator John McCain , a Vietnam war veteran and former prisoner of war who was the Republican presidential nominee in 2008. McCain joined the condemnation of Trump this week, but stopped short of withdrawing his endorsement of him.

Let’s not forget, though, that McCain allowed Sarah Palin to be his running mate. She was barely more qualified than Trump.

“Donald Trump and his surrogates have demonstrated that their bigotry and hate speech know no bounds,” Nate Terani, the first Muslim American to serve in the US Navy Presidential Honor Guard, told reporters. “Donald Trump is a racist and bigot and wholly unfit for this position.”

Yes, yes he is.

The petition on MoveOn.org was started by Perry O’Brien, who served as a medic in Afghanistan with the 82nd Airborne Division and was discharged as a conscientious objector in 2004. “Every vet I know is absolutely outraged,” he said on Wednesday. “Trump is someone who clearly does not share core American values and the values that we in the military hold dear: respect, sacrifice, selflessness.

“When he said he’s always wanted a Purple Heart, it showed he doesn’t know what a Purple Heart is. It’s like saying: ‘I want to be shot in the face’ or ‘I want to be blown up’. He doesn’t have a certain awareness that there are some things you don’t do or don’t say in this country.”

Well except that’s the whole thing about Trump – he wants the Purple Heart without the injury. He just wants the Purple Heart. It’s very comparable to the way he wants to be president, if you think about it. He doesn’t want to do the job, he doesn’t want to do the work, he doesn’t want to do what it takes to qualify for doing the job – he just wants to have it, like a toy or a bauble.

Asked about the prospect of Trump as commander-in-chief, O’Brien remarked: “His recklessness, his instinct towards authoritarianism, his unhealthy attraction towards dictators – all these things raise questions. Why would a soldier go to fight knowing that, if they’re killed, President Donald Trump would slander their family? Who would enlist knowing he would attack their mother if she disagrees with him?”

David Callaway, a former Marine corps physician who served in Iraq and Kuwait in 2003, said: “For me it boils down to this: when you are in the military, you swear this oath and it’s service above self. For Trump, it’s all about service to self.

“He has never served any other cause except for his own greed and wealth, and for veterans the idea that this man would support and defend the constitution and the ideals on which our country was founded – that being liberty, equality, opportunity – initially was comical and now it’s just frightening.”

The point about serving any other cause is an important one. Trump is all about Trump: Trump as billionaire winner. Money is all he knows. He has all the depth of a dollar bill. He’s like that awful guy at the party or the restaurant, who keeps erupting with his awful opinions while everyone else tries hard to look away. His looming presence is a nightmare.



Clint Eastwood says “We’re really in a pussy generation”

Aug 4th, 2016 11:56 am | By

Yeah. Goddam women everywhere, saying things. It was better in the good old days when they never left the kitchen. Fucking them on the linoleum was a little uncomfortable, but worth it for the silence.

He said it in an interview for Esquire (Please come in, Sir, your pussy will be with you shortly). He said it while endorsing Trump.

Eastwood, who said he hasn’t officially endorsed anyone yet and admitted “I haven’t talked to Trump,” also railed against what he perceives as a culture of “political correctness” in America. “We’re really in a pussy generation. Everybody’s walking on eggshells. We see people accusing people of being racist and all kinds of stuff. When I grew up, those things weren’t called racist,” said Eastwood.

Yes, and they should have been. Good-bye, Rowdy Yates.



We need to keep changing the attitude

Aug 4th, 2016 11:42 am | By

Meanwhile, as Trump burbles about nukes and crying babies and angry Muslims with thick accents, Obama writes a piece for Glamour about feminism.

He points out that it’s not just about changing laws, it’s about changing ourselves.

As far as we’ve come, all too often we are still boxed in by stereotypes about how men and women should behave. One of my heroines is Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, who was the first African American to run for a major party’s presidential nomination. She once said, “The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says, ‘It’s a girl.’ ” We know that these stereotypes affect how girls see themselves starting at a very young age, making them feel that if they don’t look or act a certain way, they are somehow less worthy. In fact, gender stereotypes affect all of us, regardless of our gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

They’re probably the stereotypes that affect us all the most.

I also have to admit that when you’re the father of two daughters, you become even more aware of how gender stereotypes pervade our society. You see the subtle and not-so-subtle social cues transmitted through culture. You feel the enormous pressure girls are under to look and behave and even think a certain way.

And a lot of men are not aware of that.

We need to keep changing the attitude that raises our girls to be demure and our boys to be assertive, that criticizes our daughters for speaking out and our sons for shedding a tear. We need to keep changing the attitude that punishes women for their sexuality and rewards men for theirs.

We need to keep changing the attitude that permits the routine harassment of women, whether they’re walking down the street or daring to go online. We need to keep changing the attitude that teaches men to feel threatened by the presence and success of women.

We need to keep changing the attitude that congratulates men for changing a diaper, stigmatizes full-time dads, and penalizes working mothers. We need to keep changing the attitude that values being confident, competitive, and ambitious in the workplace—unless you’re a woman. Then you’re being too bossy, and suddenly the very qualities you thought were necessary for success end up holding you back.

They are necessary for success, but all the same if you’re a woman you’re punished for them. You can’t win.

We need to keep changing a culture that shines a particularly unforgiving light on women and girls of color. Michelle has often spoken about this. Even after achieving success in her own right, she still held doubts; she had to worry about whether she looked the right way or was acting the right way—whether she was being too assertive or too “angry.”

Remember the 2008 campaign? Yup.

I can’t see Trump ever writing an article like this.



Security and public order

Aug 4th, 2016 11:10 am | By

The BBC reports:

The headless, mutilated body of a gay Syrian man has been identified by gay housemates in Istanbul who say he had been gang-raped previously.

The friends of Muhammad Wisam Sankari told a Turkish gay rights group, kaosgl.org, that they had been threatened by violent male gangs.

“I am so scared,” one of them said.

Mr Sankari, a refugee, arrived in Istanbul a year ago. His body was found in Yenikapi, a central district, on 25 July. No arrests have been made.

He was trying to get out of Turkey because his life was in danger.

In June, Turkish police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse gay activists who tried to hold an LGBT rally in Istanbul, despite a ban on the Gay Pride parade.

Homosexuality is illegal in many countries in the Middle East and although it is not against the law in Turkey, analysts say homophobia remains widespread.

Allah hates fags, no doubt – and as for dykes –

The Turkish authorities cited “safeguarding security and public order” as the reason for banning Gay Pride in Istanbul this year. The parade was also banned last year.

Assaults on LGBT people in Turkey have mostly been blamed on ultra-conservative Muslims and an ultra-nationalist youth group, the Alperen Hearths.

The harassment is also related to a rise in homophobic rhetoric in conservative media and social media, Cagil Kasapoglu [of the BBC Turkish Service] says.

Yeah we get that here too.



Trump says nukes are on the table

Aug 4th, 2016 10:48 am | By

That item about Trump’s wanting to use the nukes? I didn’t post about it yesterday because there was only one source, but ThinkProgress has collected examples of his saying it in public on the record, so.

On Wednesday, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough passed on an intriguing piece of gossip: Donald Trump, speaking with a “foreign policy expert,” repeatedly asked “why can’t we use nuclear weapons.”

Scarborough’s claim was thinly sourced. He didn’t reveal the identity of the expert advising Trump or even where he learned the information. Information attributed to anonymous sources is inherently suspect.

But one need not rely on anonymous sources to glean Trump’s views on nuclear weapons. He has broached the subject repeatedly on the campaign trail. Several of his public comments are similar to Scarborough’s account while others are terrifying in their own way.

They provide a video clip.

And transcribe it:

MATTHEWS: Well, why would you — why wouldn’t you just say, “I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to talk about nuclear weapons. Presidents don’t talk about use of nuclear weapons”?

TRUMP: The question was asked — we were talking about NATO — which, by the way, I say is obsolete and we pay a dis —

MATTHEWS: But you got hooked into something you shouldn`t have talked about.

TRUMP: I don’t think I — well, someday, maybe.

MATTHEWS: When? Maybe?

TRUMP: Of course. If somebody —

MATTHEWS: Where would we drop — where would we drop a nuclear weapon in the Middle East?

TRUMP: Let me explain. Let me explain.

Somebody hits us within ISIS — you wouldn`t fight back with a nuke?

MATTHEWS: OK. The trouble is, when you said that, the whole world heard it. David Cameron in Britain heard it. The Japanese, where we bombed them in 45, heard it. They`re hearing a guy running for president of the United States talking of maybe using nuclear weapons. Nobody wants to hear that about an American president.

TRUMP: Then why are we making them? Why do we make them?

[MSNBC, March 30, 2016]

You can watch him saying it:

 



Wondering if they’ll soon answer to a madman

Aug 3rd, 2016 6:06 pm | By

A series of tweets yesterday by John Noonan. Here’s his current Twitter blurb:

Did national security for . Bourbon helps. Sell your bonds and pray for America. 

Here’s what he said (I expanded a few of them from Twitter shorthand):

I can’t get this in one tweet. So bear with me as I air some laundry here on Scarborough’s claim Trump’s interested in nuclear First Use

Pulled 300 nuclear alerts, 100 ft under the Wyoming turf. Job is serious and full of serious people.

When we went into ICBM training, we went through a battery of tests and interviews. Are you sane? Are you willing to turn your key?

I see how those might sound at odds.

But the whole idea behind nuclear deterrence is that you don’t use the damn things. So I thought the mission credible and worthy.

There are a hell of a lot of bad actors out there who have nukes. They are restrained only by our ability to instantly lay waste to them.

The nuke triad, which Trump doesn’t have a clue about, has been the single greatest contributor to global peace for decades. You heard me.

I dont know if Scarborough is telling whole truth here. Anonymous sources suck. BUT… if he is… buckle the hell up.

Because Trump would be undoing 6 decades of proven deterrence theory. The purpose of nukes is that they are never used. Trump disagrees?

This would be the single greatest strategic shift in US national security in decades. In a Trump Presidency, our foreign policy would be this. “Leave our alliances, fall back on a nuclear first use policy.” Does he understand just how fucking dangerous that is?

But what really concerns me, as a former nuke guy, is the idea of a narcissist walking around with nuclear authenticators.

I could sit 100ft underground, on alert, knowing that the POTUS would not make me do my duty — not unless it was absolute last resort.

But imagine having to turn launch keys not knowing if we were under attack or if it was because a foreign leader said a mean thing on twitter.

The power is there to kill millions. Permanently alter the geopolitical landscape. It is a sacred, sobering responsibility.

Idea that nukes would be used, say over Raqqa or Mosul, simply because we have no more allies and it’s a simple, easy fix is nauseating.

Simply signaling that you’re open to using strategic weapons as a tactical solution rewrites the rule book. Russia, China, others will respond. Nuclear deterrence is about balance. Trump is an elephant jumping up and down on one side of the scale. So damn dangerous.

But geopolitics aside, I can’t get my mind off the young officers on nuke alert right now. Wondering if they’ll soon answer to a madman.

And be asked to do a duty that should morally be asked of no human being, ever.



A much higher state of Red Alert

Aug 3rd, 2016 5:40 pm | By

Exactly.

Republicans nominate dangerously insane person to lead America, then panic when he proves he’s dangerously insane

They knew that about him when they nominated him. It’s too late to freak out about it now. They should have done that before they nominated him, not after.

Republicans have shifted into a much higher state of Red Alert because Trump’s erratic antics are revealing just how reckless their decision to nominate him really was, and how reckless their continued support for him really is. In other words, Trump is now threatening to damage the party in far worse ways than Republicans had bargained for, because he’s revealing in inescapably clear terms the real character and qualifications of the person they knowingly nominated to run the country and continue to support for the presidency.

All that was plenty obvious enough before the convention. He’s a terrible human being; he’s not subtle about it.

Trump’s pathologically abusive tendencies, his hair-trigger overreaction to criticism and slights both real and imagined, and his mental habit of sorting the world into the strong and the weak — the dominant and the submissive — render him temperamentally unfit for the presidency. He lacks basic knowledge of the world and doesn’t appear burdened by any curiosity about the complexities of foreign affairs or domestic policy. He is at worst a genuine bigot and at best a charlatan who has actively sought to stoke reactionary hostility to culturally and demographically evolving America. He is indifferent to the inner workings of the American system and instead promises authoritarian glory.

What’s really happened in recent days is that Trump’s ongoing battle with the Khan family only made all of these traits — the unhinged response to criticism, the bigoted attacks on Muslims, the naked abusiveness directed at a grieving family — more glaringly obvious. By extension, this has made nominating this man even more impossible politically for Republicans to defend. But Republicans knew who they were nominating. They themselves had repeatedly acknowledged that his personal traits were alarming and had castigated many of his positions as cruel and at odds with fundamental American values. Voices from all across the political spectrum, from liberals to centrists to Never Trump conservatives, warned that he would only get worse.

Now Republicans want to stage an intervention?

My point exactly.



Lunging from one controversy to another

Aug 3rd, 2016 2:38 pm | By

Republicans are reacting with shock and horror to the sudden news that their candidate for the presidency is none other than real estate tycoon and “reality” tv star Donald Trump.

The Republican Party was in turmoil again Wednesday as party leaders, strategists and donors voiced increasing alarm about the flailing state of Donald Trump’s candidacy and fears that the presidential nominee was damaging the party with an extraordinary week of self-inflicted mistakes, gratuitous attacks and missed opportunities.

Well stone the crows! It turns out the candidate is not a responsible competent grown up who knows how to behave, but instead, it’s real estate tycoon and “reality” tv star Donald Trump.

Trump’s top campaign advisers are failing to instill discipline on their candidate, who has spent the past days lunging from one controversy to another while seemingly skipping chances to go on the offensive against his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

How could the Republicans possibly have known this would happen? What hint was there beforehand?

Reed, who managed Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign, recommended that Trump “stop doing silly interviews nine times a day that get you off message” and deliver a major address seeking to reset the campaign establishing himself as the change candidate.

If only the Republicans had nominated a candidate who wouldn’t want to do silly interviews nine times a day – but alas for them, they didn’t, they nominated real estate tycoon and “reality” tv star Donald Trump.

Friends and allies of Manafort disputed reports that the top adviser had given up on Trump, describing him as fully committed to waging a successful campaign. But they said Manafort has been frustrated by Trump’s apparent lack of discipline on the stump and in his many media interviews.

But Manafort, being Trump’s campaign manager, must have known this all along, unlike the innocent Republicans who had no idea what he was like until just a day or two ago. Manafort must be well familiar with Trump’s lack of discipline and microscopic attention span.

“Paul has good influence with Donald,” said Charlie Black, a longtime GOP strategist and former business partner of Manafort. “But he’s Donald and he’s going to operate stream of consciousness a lot of times. You just hope he’ll have more days on message than days on consciousness.”

You just hope he’ll have more days when he doesn’t freak out and launch the nukes than days when he does.

From Washington to state capitals around the country, a feeling of despair and despondence fell over the Republican establishment. Two weeks ago at the party’s national convention in Cleveland, GOP leaders were buoyed by what they saw in Trump. But Trump quickly reverted to his old ways, setting off alarm bells in some parts of the party.

They were “buoyed” by that? By that orgy of fascism and egomania?

I hope the alarm bells burst their fucking eardrums.

Gingrich said Trump is continuing to operate on instincts that helped him in business and in the primaries but said the GOP nominee doesn’t realize those skills are not adequate for a general election.

Of course he doesn’t. He’s not bright. He doesn’t think.

“He can’t learn what he doesn’t know because he doesn’t know he doesn’t know it,” Gingrich said.

So he’ll be a fabulous president then. I don’t see what could possibly go wrong.



Iran’s sickening enthusiasm for putting juveniles to death

Aug 3rd, 2016 2:06 pm | By

Amnesty International:

Amnesty International has revealed that a teenager was executed in Iran after being convicted of the rape of another boy, the first confirmed execution of a juvenile offender in the country this year.

The organization, which has been carrying out extensive research into the situation of juvenile offenders on death row in Iran, found that Hassan Afshar, 19, was hanged in Arak’s Prison in Markazi Province on 18 July, after being convicted of “lavat-e be onf” (forced male to male anal intercourse) in early 2015. The execution went ahead even though the Office of the Head of the Judiciary had promised his family that they would review the case on 15 September 2016.

“Iran has proved that its sickening enthusiasm for putting juveniles to death, in contravention of international law, knows no bounds. Hassan Afshar was a 17-year-old high school student when he was arrested. He had no access to a lawyer and the judiciary rushed through the investigation and prosecution, convicting and sentencing him to death within two months of his arrest as though they could not execute him quickly enough,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

He had no access to a lawyer – so that made it very easy for the judiciary to “investigate” and convict him.

Just days after Hassan Afshar was executed, the authorities scheduled Alireza Tajiki, another youth who was under 18 at the time of his alleged offence, for execution. The implementation of his death sentence, which had been scheduled to take place on 3 August was, however, postponed yesterday following public pressure.

“While we welcome the stay of execution for Alireza Tajiki, his life has been saved for the moment because of public pressure and not because the Iranian authorities are seriously considering stopping the horrendous practice of executing juveniles. This is illustrated by the fact that just two weeks ago Hassan Afshar was hanged in anonymity – publicity should not make the difference between life and death,” said Magdalena Mughrabi.

Hassan Afshar was arrested in December 2014 after the authorities received a complaint accusing him and two other youths of forcing a teenage boy to have sexual intercourse with them. Hassan Afshar maintained that the sexual acts were consensual and that the complainant’s son had willingly engaged in same-sex sexual activities before.

While authorities must always investigate allegations of rape and, where sufficient admissible evidence is found, prosecute those responsible in fair trials, rape does not fall into the category of offences for which the death penalty can be imposed under international law. Furthermore, the existence of laws in Iran that criminalize consensual male to male sexual intercourse with the death penalty means that if the intercourse in this case had been deemed consensual, the teenager who accused Hassan Afshar of rape would himself have been sentenced to death. The criminalization of same-sex sexual activity between consenting adults violates international human rights law.

Quite a trap, isn’t it – either you say he raped you, or we execute you. Of course women have been in that trap as far back as we can see.

At the Times, Bel Trew reports from Cairo:

Iran is second only to China in the number of people it executes, according to rights groups. A total of 977 people were executed in Iran last year, the highest death toll since 1989. Most were hanged on non-lethal charges such as drugs-related crimes. Iran also conducts public floggings.

At least 259 people have been executed this year, according to the US-based Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, which keeps a tally of media and official reports.

The latest mass execution allegedly took place yesterday when as many as 20 Sunni prisoners were killed in Gohardasht prison, according to the National Council of Resistance of Iran, the exiled opposition movement.

Their relatives were told, “Sorry, too late to say good-bye.”



Baby-whispering

Aug 3rd, 2016 12:02 pm | By

Speaking of the Trump-Obama rivalry over our relations with the great nation of Babies – Buzzfeed has a compilation of photos of Obama meeting with the citizens of said nation. Most of them are by Pete Souza, the official White House camera guy.

I like this one.

It's not the first time Ella's cuteness has floored the president.

And this one of course is a classic.

Or wants to touch your hair to see if it feels the same as his...

And I loved the tiara one.

Little princesses...

 



Baby baby baby

Aug 3rd, 2016 11:35 am | By

This has been going around since yesterday when Trump got peevish about a crying baby at one of his appearances.

Obama’s a baby-whisperer. Trump not so much.



This isn’t a situation where you have an episodic gaffe

Aug 3rd, 2016 10:53 am | By

Yesterday Obama pointed out that Trump is unfit to be president.

Speaking in the East Room of the White House while Mr. Trump rallied supporters in a nearby Virginia suburb, the president noted the Republican criticism of Mr. Trump for his attacks on the Muslim parents of an American soldier, Capt. Humayun Khan, who died in Iraq.

But Mr. Obama said the political recriminations from Republicans “ring hollow” if the party’s leaders continue to support Mr. Trump’s campaign.

“The question they have to ask themselves is: If you are repeatedly having to say in very strong terms that what he has said is unacceptable, why are you still endorsing him?” Mr. Obama said. “What does this say about your party that this is your standard-bearer?”

The thing about Trump is that it’s not just his views or his policies (if he actually has anything that can really be called a policy) – it’s his nature, his character, his way of being. It’s how horrible he is in every visible way.

Has anyone come forward to say anything like, “Look, I know Trump seems rude and abrasive in public but behind the scenes he’s actually a warm, caring, decent guy”? Not that I know of. As far as I can tell what you see is exactly what you get – a rude, abrasive, belligerent asshole.

Mr. Obama lamented what he called an attack on a “Gold Star family that had made such extraordinary sacrifices on behalf of our country.” He said he did not doubt that Republicans were outraged about the statements Mr. Trump and his supporters had made about the Khan family in the last several days.

“But there has to come a point at which you say somebody who makes those kinds of statements doesn’t have the judgment, the temperament, the understanding, to occupy the most powerful position in the world,” Mr. Obama said.

The president did not limit his criticism to Mr. Trump’s treatment of the Khan family. Mr. Obama said the Republican nominee had repeatedly demonstrated that he was “woefully unprepared to do this job.” The president said Mr. Trump had proved he lacked knowledge about Europe, the Middle East and other parts of Asia.

“This isn’t a situation where you have an episodic gaffe. This is daily,” Mr. Obama added. “There has to be a point at which you say, ‘This is not somebody I can support for president of the United States, even if he purports to be a member of my party.’ The fact that that has not yet happened makes some of these denunciations ring hollow.”

As hollow as Trump himself.



Having been physically stopped from breathing

Aug 3rd, 2016 10:09 am | By

Confirmed. Samia Shahid was strangled.

Deputy Inspector General Abu Bakr Khuda Bux revealed to the BBC how she died, following the launch of a murder inquiry based on information they got from her husband, Syed Mukhtar Kazam.

No arrests have been made in the case, he confirmed.

However, Ms Shahid’s father Mohammad and a cousin known as Mobeen have both been interviewed by officers, though neither [has] been detained.

They can’t arrest or interview her first husband until Saturday, when the pre-arrest bail order expires.

Pakistani daily The News revealed the forensic report, released earlier, confirmed Ms Shahid had been murdered and her death had not been from natural causes.

The paper said the report stated clearly her death was caused by suffocation, having been physically stopped from breathing.

Post-mortem tests stated her death was as a result of strangulation.

Since her family lied about what caused her death, that puts them squarely in the frame.



Trump put the Purple Heart in his pocket

Aug 3rd, 2016 9:21 am | By

My friend Tasneem Khalil asked some probing questions about the whole “soldier killed in battle” thing yesterday.

Worshipping the dead soldier is one of the highest rituals of a national security state. Like many other places, we actually have special monuments for this in Bangladesh and India. It is then not surprising to see that even a petulant scumbag like Donald Trump can not get away after insulting two Gold Star parents whose son died in Iraq. This is the same guy, mind you, who got the GOP nomination after calling Mexicans rapists and advocating a blanket ban against Muslims.

Captain Khan was undoubtedly a brave man but was he a hero? A hero for whom? Would any of my Iraqi friends consider him a hero — the fallen soldier of an invading army that waged an illegal war and devastated their country? Which little big book an Iraqi father would pull out of his breast pocket when he gives a speech about his child’s deformed body, thanks to depleted uranium dropped as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom? Are we all free and safe now, because of the sacrifice by young men and women like Captain Khan?

If you are a US citizen, please try to ask yourself these questions. I, herewith, propose a possible answer. If you really are grateful to soldiers like Captain Khan, the best tribute you can pay to their memories is by ensuring that your rulers do not send your children to die in illegal wars in the future.

PS. Those who know me well know that I do not share the lazy anti-Americanism of the Chomsky-quoting, Assange-worshipping left. I, also, do not belong to the flag-waving, soldier-worshipping right.

I think he’s right. I had and have some qualms about the dead soldier worship in connection with the Iraq war. At the same time…I do see the merit of demonstrating that American Muslims are woven into the fabric of the country just like any other citizens, and dying in battle is the ultimate way of demonstrating that. Given a blatantly xenophobic candidate like Trump who talks of banning all Muslims from entry, I can see why that ultimate demonstration was felt necessary.

So, having said that – I give you Khizr Khan on Anderson Cooper’s show:

Khizr Khan on Tuesday accused Donald Trump of dodging the Vietnam War draft, and said he shouldn’t have accepted a Purple Heart given to him at a rally earlier in the day, deeming it the latest sign of his inability to empathize with parents of fallen soldiers.

“You dodged the draft,” Khan, a Muslim whose son was slain in the Iraq War, said of Trump to CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “Put that Purple Heart back on that person’s chest.”

A military veteran supporting Trump had gifted the Republican presidential nominee his Purple Heart, prompting Trump to say he “always wanted to get the Purple Heart” and this was “much easier” than serving in combat.

He did; he said that. He said it cheerfully and flippantly.

“You had the time. You did not serve,” Khan told Cooper. “You should have pinned that back to that veteran’s chest and should have hugged him and thanked him.”

I recommend watching the video clip. Khan gets very heated, then apologizes for getting heated, then gets heated again. I know the feeling. It’s hard not to get in a rage when talking about Trump. Khan is disgusted by Trump’s flippancy and lack of empathy.



Missing: kindness, honesty, dignity, compassion and respect

Aug 2nd, 2016 6:21 pm | By

The first Republican Representative to ditch Trump.

Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY) is the first Republican member of Congress to announce he’ll vote for Hillary Clinton this November.

Regarding the reasons he was resolved not to support Trump in the first place, Hanna wrote that they “were simple and personal. I found him profoundly offensive and narcissistic but as much as anything, a world-class panderer, anything but a leader.”

“I never expect to agree with whoever is president, but at a minimum the president needs to consistently display those qualities I have preached to my two children: kindness, honesty, dignity, compassion and respect,” he continued. “I do not expect perfection, but I do require more than the embodiment of at least a short list of the seven deadly sins.”

That’s what’s so astonishing about this whole thing – he’s such a terrible human being, and he makes it so obvious. He’s mean, rude, a bully – and an ignoramus, and loud with it, and boastful, and grandiose. How did this happen? What’s wrong with us?

In the interview with the Post-Standard, Hanna says Trump’s criticizing of Gold Star parents left him “incensed.”

“I was stunned by the callousness of his comments,” he added. “I think Trump is a national embarrassment. Is he really the guy you want to have the nuclear codes?”

No, he is not.



The very things that Allah has prohibited

Aug 2nd, 2016 5:57 pm | By

IS explains why they’re so loathsome in an article. They make a list.

One is because you’re kuffar.

We hate you, first and foremost, because you are disbelievers; you reject the oneness of Allah – whether you realize it or not – by making partners for Him in worship, you blaspheme against Him, claiming that He has a son, you fabricate lies against His prophets and messengers, and you indulge in all manner of devilish practices.

Oh, more than that – I hate him, and I say he doesn’t exist and never has. I hate the fictional character, and I don’t for a second think he has ever existed. I blaspheme against him all the time. I also don’t for a second think he’s a “he.”

We hate you because your secular, liberal societies permit the very things that Allah has prohibited while banning many of the things He has permitted, a matter that doesn’t concern you because you Christian disbelief and paganism 32 separate between religion and state, thereby granting supreme authority to your whims and desires via the legislators you vote into power.

And I hate you right back for the same reason in reverse. Allah has prohibited the wrong things and permitted even worse things – like the things you shits do. That’s the nub of the matter all right, and you have it dead wrong. It’s a human job to decide what humans need and don’t need. What a putative god wants is beside the point for human beings.

They’re not what you’d call profound thinkers.



Strong women don’t

Aug 2nd, 2016 3:41 pm | By

The male Trumps are of course very clued-in and wise about sexual harassment. Like Eric Trump for example:

In an interview with “CBS This Morning,” the son of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump seemed to think that women allowed sexual harassment to occur.

Eric Trump was responding to a comment his father made in a USA Today piece, in which he said that his daughter Ivanka would either find a different career or job if she was harassed in the workplace.

“I think what he’s saying is, Ivanka is a strong, powerful woman, she wouldn’t allow herself to be objected to it,” the younger Trump said. “And by the way, you should take it up with Human Resources, and I think she would as a strong person, at the same time, I don’t think she would allow herself to be subjected to that. I think that’s a point he was making, and I think he did so well.”

Yeah. Good point. Strong Trump women don’t take any shit, while the rest of us just sit there limply and let it happen. It’s totally voluntary, sexual harassment is, so if it happens to you, it’s your fault for being so weak and stupid.

Even the women of Fox aren’t buying it.

Well she just says that because she’s got blood coming out of her whatever.

Only Losers get sexually harassed, am I right?



“We need a strong leader who will stand up for America”

Aug 2nd, 2016 2:32 pm | By

Sheriff Joe Arpaio is speaking at a Mike Pence event today.

Arpaio, a longtime supporter of Trump, spoke on his behalf at the convention.

“I have spent 55 years in law enforcement,” Arpaio told delegates and attendees. “Fifty-five years, I’ve always regarded my work [and] missions critical, but my most important mission has just begun: to help elect Donald Trump president of the United States. The stakes are high. We need a strong leader who will stand up for America and put the interests of her citizens first.”

Not including the ones who have the misfortune to be in the Maricopa County prison system, of course. Arpaio doesn’t want A Strong Leader (a führer) to put their interests first, or anywhere.

The New Yorker on Arpaio in 2009:

The biggest part of the sheriff’s job is running the jails, and Arpaio saw that there was political gold to be spun there. The voters had declined to finance new jail construction, and so, in 1993, Arpaio, vowing that no troublemakers would be released on his watch because of overcrowding, procured a consignment of Army-surplus tents and had them set up, surrounded by barbed wire, in an industrial area in southwest Phoenix. “I put them up next to the dump, the dog pound, the waste-disposal plant,” he told me. Phoenix is an open-air blast furnace for much of the year. Temperatures inside the tents hit a hundred and thirty-five degrees. Still, the tents were a hit with the public, or at least with the conservative majority that voted. Arpaio put up more tents, until Tent City jail held twenty-five hundred inmates, and he stuck a neon “vacancy” sign on a tall guard tower. It was visible for miles.

His popularity grew. What could he do next? Arpaio ordered small, heavily publicized deprivations. He banned cigarettes from his jails. Skin magazines. Movies. Coffee. Hot lunches. Salt and pepper—Arpaio estimated that he saved taxpayers thirty thousand dollars a year by removing salt and pepper. Meals were cut to two a day, and Arpaio got the cost down, he says, to thirty cents per meal. “It costs more to feed the dogs than it does the inmates,” he told me. Jail, Arpaio likes to say, is not a spa—it’s punishment. He wants inmates whose keenest wish is never to get locked up again. He limits their television, he told me, to the Weather Channel, C-span, and, just to aggravate their hunger, the Food Network. For a while, he showed them Newt Gingrich speeches. “They hated him,” he said cheerfully. Why the Weather Channel, a British reporter once asked. “So these morons will know how hot it’s going to be while they are working on my chain gangs.”

Arpaio wasn’t kidding about chain gangs. Foreign television reporters couldn’t get enough footage of his inmates shuffling through the desert. New ideas for the humiliation of people in custody—whom the Sheriff calls, with persuasive disgust, “criminals,” although most are actually awaiting trial, not convicted of any crime—kept occurring to him. He put his inmates in black-and-white striped uniforms. The shock value of these retro prisoner outfits was powerful and complex. There was comedy, nostalgia, dehumanization, even a whiff of something annihilationist. He created female chain gangs, “the first in the history of the world,” and, eventually, juvenile chain gangs. The chain gangs’ tasks include burying the indigent at the county cemetery, but mainly they serve as spectacles in Arpaio’s theatre of cruelty. “I put them out there on the main streets,” he told me. “So everybody sees them out there cleaning up trash, and parents say to their kids, ‘Look, that’s where you’re going if you’re not good.’”

Naturally he likes Trump.



Crackle

Aug 2nd, 2016 2:12 pm | By

The Eyjafjallajökull eruption in 2010, via NASA.

Why did a picturesque 2010 volcanic eruption in Iceland create so much ash? Although the large ash plume was not unparalleled in its abundance, its location was particularly noticeable because it drifted across such well-populated areas. The Eyjafjallajökull volcano in southern #Iceland began erupting on 2010 March 20, with a second eruption starting under the center of a small glacier on 2010 April 14. Neither eruption was unusually powerful. The second #eruption, however, melted a large amount of glacial ice which then cooled and fragmented lava into gritty glass particles that were carried up with the rising volcanic plume. Pictured above during the second eruption, lightning bolts illuminate ash pouring out of the Eyjafjallajökull #volcano. Photo Credit: NASA/Sigurður Stefnisson #lightning #ice #earthrightnow

A photo posted by NASA Exploration Systems (@explorenasa) on