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Sat Jan 10, 2015 at 05:37 PM PST

Nazis again

by gshenaut

I don't really have much to add to this article in the NY Times:
http://www.nytimes.com/...

Basically, it details the presence of Nazi leaders who fled after WWII not to South America, as is well known, but to the Middle East, mostly Egypt and Syria. There, they advised the local governments, particularly when it came to military matters. They also acted to help the West German government get military contracts and so on with the Arab nations. To avoid detection, apparently many of them converted to Islam and assumed Arab names.

The reason I am posting this is because my mind is slightly blown by the fact that the fledgling independent Arab nations surrounding Israel, from the late 40s/early 50s on, were being advised by Jew killing, genocidal Nazis.

This could explain a great deal about how things progressed there, and how it all ended up in the unholy mess there is today.

Discuss

Sat Nov 08, 2014 at 01:56 PM PST

Chairman McCain is coming

by gshenaut

In an article in the New York Times, the probable ascension of John McCain to the chairmanship of the Senate Armed Services Committee is discussed.

As is well known, McCain is a strong hawk on Iraq. He believes we never should have left, and he apparently advocates sending combat troops in to fight Daesh.

I hope that he doesn't succeed in getting US troops sent there to fight, and I just have a short comment to make about it, which I will do in the extension.

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Thu Oct 02, 2014 at 06:44 PM PDT

What is a “large fraction”?

by gshenaut

We have now read about a decision by a federal appeals court in Texas that has ruled that 13 abortion clinics in the state must close because their facilities do not have all of the accoutrements required of full-fledged hospitals.
http://www.nytimes.com/...

The main issue appears to have been whether a “large fraction” of Texans who are females of reproductive age would have a substantial obstacle to getting abortion services.

What does that mean?

Poll

Is 1/6 a large fraction?

11%2 votes
88%15 votes

| 17 votes | Vote | Results

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Sat Sep 27, 2014 at 09:13 AM PDT

No boots on the ground

by gshenaut

I just had a thought about why the president's policy of no boots on the ground may be even more shrewd than it appears at first glance.

The standard reason for not sending in American combat troops—and it's a very good reason—is that when our troops dig in in a foreign war, it tends to turn into a quagmire that we get stuck in. These quagmires harm America's moral, its position in the world, and they are appallingly expensive.

However, there is a second reason that I don't recall reading about: if there are no American boots on the ground, we do not fit the traditional role of occupier.

Poll

Should we send ground forces into Syraq?

15%5 votes
0%0 votes
6%2 votes
15%5 votes
62%20 votes

| 32 votes | Vote | Results

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Sat Sep 20, 2014 at 03:43 PM PDT

But can they legislate?

by gshenaut

It occurred to me today that we have a vast legislative electioneering industry in America, at every state and national level. We learn much more about candidates for states legislatures and Congress than we want to know, about pranks they played in college, errors or crimes they committed, what kind of sex life they have, how much money they have saved up, and on and on.

But one thing that is almost never mentioned in all this electoral heat and light is a fundamental question: what kind of a legislator will the candidate be?

Poll

How good of a legislator a candidate is likely to be is

22%2 votes
55%5 votes
22%2 votes

| 9 votes | Vote | Results

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This is one of those “OMG I just had an idea” diaries.

For the bulk of my life, the Cold War and many pre-WWII animosities were presented to me in school and in the media as a battle between communism and capitalism, with the USSR (commonly known as “Russia”) being the most fearsome advocate of communism. They (communists) were the enemy.

The solution was thought to be to conquer communism, to vanquish it, to replace it with the “good”: capitalism (commonly known as “democracy”). This is why everyone heaved a sigh of relief when the USSR broke up, to be replaced (mostly) with democracies. How could this not be good? There were (almost) no “enemies” left!

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Wed Apr 30, 2014 at 11:03 AM PDT

Tombstone symbolism

by gshenaut

I recently got hold of a photo of my great-grandfather's tombstone in Lawrence County, Ohio. He was an iron ore miner, killed by collapsing shale while he was working. I'm intrigued by this photo, in two ways. First, there is a symbol carved into the stone that I haven't before and I'm hoping that someone here is familiar with, and second, there is an inscription at the bottom that is mostly illegible in the photo.

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Sat Oct 12, 2013 at 06:20 PM PDT

Next time: the debt ceiling law

by gshenaut

It's painful to realize that in 2009-2011, we could have repealed, yes permanently repealed, the stupid debt ceiling law.

That session of Congress was not the first time that Democrats controlled the government. We could have gotten rid of this ridiculous, probably unconstitutional law, decades ago.

So here's a piece of advice. Assuming we survive the current crisis, and assuming that the day when we control the government will come again, possibly as early as 2015, we really, really need to get rid of that law.

If we want to reduce spending, then we can reduce spending by selectively reducing relatively less essential or wasteful programs. The debt ceiling law is superstitious, magical thinking, and is like trying to use a sledge hammer to program your VCR (assuming you still have a VCR, of course).

Let's not let another opportunity like that go by again.

Discuss

Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 07:56 PM PDT

The debt ceiling game

by gshenaut

This is something that's been bugging me lately.

Apparently, President Obama's advisers have informed him that the president doesn't have the power to override the debt ceiling law, and Republicans has informed him that they will not raise it unless the ACA is “defunded”. Logically, that leaves the president with only one alternative, and he is the only one that can do it: he must make cuts and raise revenue by other sources in order to continue to pay what we owe and what we have promised to pay. If you read the law, there is no alternative to this. In fact, several Republicans have been calling for it specifically: it's a no-brainer, according to them (and they should know).

In fact, it is kind of a no-brainer. As leading GOP leaders such as Rand Paul have pointed out, we're a rich country, so why would we default?

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Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 07:41 PM PDT

adventure capitalism

by gshenaut

This is a short word about an article I just read in the French version of Slate magazine.
http://www.slate.fr/...

The article itself is about how mezcal production is taking off in Mexico, and it's somewhat interesting in and of itself. But the interesting thing to me came near the end, describing a new mezcal producer's association founded by a young man with deep familial mezcalero roots. He managed to get himself a master's degree, which is of course a very good thing, but what's interesting is how he paid for his degree.

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Sat May 04, 2013 at 08:17 AM PDT

Guantánamo: please sign my petition

by gshenaut

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/...

This morning I read this Op-Ed by Ackerman and Fidell in the New York Times:
http://www.nytimes.com/...

I was moved to create a petition that the President implement it forthwith.

Please consider signing it.

Thank you.

Poll

I signed

20%1 votes
60%3 votes
0%0 votes

| 5 votes | Vote | Results

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Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 08:54 AM PDT

How many democracies are we?

by gshenaut

I've been pondering the old debate about whether the US in a democracy or not. Generally, right-wingers tend toward the “not” side of this, and left-wingers toward the “democracy” side, a dichotomy paralleling almost everything else in the conservative vs progressive universe we inhabit. But if we define a democracy as a body in which individuals vote equally to determine the issues, how do we rate?

Poll

America is

37%3 votes
37%3 votes
25%2 votes

| 8 votes | Vote | Results

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