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Week In The News: Obama In Israel, Prison Chief Shot, Iraq Anniversary

President Obama in Israel. Colorado’s prison chief, shot.  The Iraq War, ten years on. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

President Barack Obama gestures during his speech at the Jerusalem Convention Center in Jerusalem, Israel, Thursday, March 21, 2013, (AP)

President Barack Obama gestures during his speech at the Jerusalem Convention Center in Jerusalem, Israel, Thursday, March 21, 2013, (AP)

Bank lines in little Cyprus grab the whole world’s attention this week. Rumors of chemical weapons, too, in the war in Syria. And in President Obama’s first trip to Israel, pledges of undying support and strong moral argument for peace with the Palestinians.

At home, gun violence. Colorado’s prison chief, shot dead at his front door. A Marine gone amok at Quantico. An assault weapons ban, not in the US Senate’s bill. Republican’s rethink immigration. Hillary Clinton comes around to gay marriage.

This hour, On Point: Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Peter Beinart, senior political writer for The Daily Beast, and editor of that site’s“Open Zion” blog. Associate professor of journalism and political science at City University of New York. (@peterbeinart)

Karen Tumulty, national political correspondent for the Washington Post. (@ktumulty)

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst.

From Tom’s Reading List

CBS News “Speaking before a lively and receptive crowd of 600 Israeli students, President Obama today urged the youth of Israel to accept ‘the realization of an independent and viable Palestine.’ A two-state solution, the president suggested, is the only viable path forward for Israel, given the political and technological changes underway.”

Los Angeles Times “As the manhunt expanded Wednesday for the killer of Tom Clements, Colorado’s top corrections official, shock and sadness spread across the nation for the loss of what many called a true innovator in how prisons should work.”

Financial Times “A wave of bombings and assassinations rattled the Iraqi capital on Tuesday, leaving dozens dead and offering a grim reminder of how unstable Iraq remains a decade after US-led forces invaded the country.”.

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  • Wm_James_from_Missouri

    On March 12, 2013 on, “ On Point” , I posted a comment about how good (black) coffee was for you and how it is a powerful weapon in the fight against diabetes and rising health care cost. Of course I got some negative feedback because I spoke of drinking 12 to 20 cups a day as being targets to shoot for ( by the way I drink 20 to 40 a day, everyday, and have been doing it for years, I almost NEVER get sick and am slim even though I love to eat chocolate ice cream by the 1/ 2 gallon when I can ) .

    Well, well, here is a link to a study, involving 500,000 people, I’ll say it again, Five Hundred Thousand; by the NIH about how coffee reduces the probability of death for all causes studied, of course !

    http://www.worldhealth.net/news/coffee-longevity/

    Now this particular article does not speak of drinking 12 to 20 cups or more per day, but I assure you they are out there.

    PS Always, always drink it fresh, even if you have to throw away an old pot. Decaf and instant are winners, also.

     
     

    • brettearle

      I love coffee–but I never knew that I was being so good to myself.

      I’ll have to watch that…

    • JGC

      I’m having a coffee right now…

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      At that quantity, 20-40 cups a day, I’m curious about what kind of coffee(s) you drink, because caffeine levels can vary depending on the roasting and extraction.

      Disclaimer: I love caffeine, but too much of it doesn’t love me back. Tastewise it is a very bitter alkaloid, so when it’s removed it’s really hard to recreate the original of anything, coffee or soda.

      • Wm_James_from_Missouri

        Mostly Folgers. I make a mix of 1/3 regular coffee to 2/ 3 decaf, sometimes, 1/ 4 to 3/4ths. Too much caffeine is not good, of course. However, I can usually fall asleep in 2 to 3 minutes. I kid you not, with the exception of this year, it has been about 5 years since I have had the flu ! In the last 15 +  or so years I have been sick about 5 times. Note: This year was the worst in more than 30 years ! Sip, sip, sip.

    • adks12020

      From your link “The association tended to get stronger as participants drank more coffee, though the result was very similar for those who drank two or three cups per day and those who drank more than that. The top category we had was six or more cups (8-oz/cup) per day.”

      That is a far cry from 20-40 or even 12-20.  I LOVE coffee but the idea of drinking 96-160 oz. of it a day is just ludicrous to me. To each his own but I think I will stick with my 2-4 cups per day. 

  • Ed75

    Pope Francis has dropped out of the usual news, until he says something people don’t like.

    For many years people have said ‘The Church should sell it’s land and art and give the money to the poor’. This has always been misguided since there are two places we find Christ: in the poor, and at the altar. So it’s appropriate that we have cathedrals and great art, much of it donated.

    It was also misguided because the church runs the largest network of healthcare and education and charity institutions in the world, including the largest number of AIDS hospices.

    But now we have a pope who has poverty as his mission, Francis, he wants a poor pope and a church more dedicated to the poor.

    Will people now accept the church? Or will they find some other reason to reject her?

    • brettearle

      What I’ve never understood is the following:

      Although I am not wealthy, I have known wealthy people.

      They have as many challenges, as the rest of us–often requiring spiritual guidance…just like people, of modest means, who might seek support for personal issues.

      While I appreciate, finally, that a Jesuit is now the Vicar of Christ, I think it is important that the Church needs to be all things to all people.

      • Ed75

        I agree completely, but I’ve met a lot of people who don’t take that view of wealthy or even middle class people. Even the Bible says ‘… without undue preference for the poor’.

        • brettearle

          Do you think it’s a political viewpoint, perhaps?

          Or that some dwell too much on Christ’s comments, about the poor, in the Bible?

          God might not necessarily turn away those with money–perhaps even if the wealthy sometimes acquired their riches via partial deception or manipulation.

          I am not Christian and I do not know how God operates.

          But I believe that God exists.

          It seems to  me that if the wealthy seek support and guidance, for assistance with problems in their lives, they have as good a chance of receiving it as a devout peasant or career criminal.  

    • J__o__h__n

      He hasn’t dropped out of the news.  There has been more coverage than needed this week.

    • adks12020

      What Pope Francis says/does is completely irrelevant to me since after being raised Catholic I am now an atheist but I do have a question for you…Since when it the church a her?

      • Ed75

        There is a theological basis – the Church as the Bride of Christ, the Church as the mother of the Christian, the Church as shown in a type by Mary, the Church that ‘gives birth’ to Christians, other Christs, but on another level it’s just a customary way of speaking, as one would refer to a ship as ‘her’.

  • Steve__T

    Why only one side of the story? He also went to Palestine, and talked with President Mahmoud Abbas. Will you talk about that?

    • brettearle

      Is your ultimate point that the Media wishes to portray the President, one-sided, on the Israeli-Palestinian issue?

      I don’t think they do portray the President that way.

      But maybe that isn’t your point.

      • Don_B1

        @Steve__T:disqus @brettearle:disqus 
        It seems to me that the MSM is captured by the disagreements between President Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and they like to put just about all the blame on President Obama. They talk about President Obama making a “make-up” visit to Israel.

        While it may be true, as said by Aaron David Miller, fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center, that President Obama’s asking for a stop of new Israeli settlements in the West Bank four years ago was effectively asking something that no Israeli prime minister could do. But he also asked President of the Palestinian National Authority Mahmoud Abbas to have the Palestinians grant the right of existence to Israel.

        Amid all the claims and demands of each side, it is hard to say what items are “equivalent,” but those were not all President Obama said, either.

        It is certainly true that President Obama’s Cairo speech raised expectations that have not been fulfilled, but that area is full of unfulfilled expectations.

  • jimino

    In Cyprus, we are being told that the whole world’s economy is threatened by the loss of $7.5 billion, which is just a slightly larger amount than JP Morgan’s “London Whale” lost, without anyone above him even noticing, and with no adverse impact on the company. 

    Perhaps your panel could address what is really going on since the story on its face makes no sense.

    • StilllHere

      Contagion based on weak fundamentals.

    • MrNutso

      What is really going on is unrestricted international banking.  Their banking sector is much larger than their GDP. 

      • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

        Have you given any thought to an avatar?

    • Don_B1

      The best explanation for what is going on with the Cyprus debacle, is here:

      http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/22/opinion/krugman-treasure-island-trauma.html?ref=opinion

      Do go on to Professor Krugman’s blog where he has posted a number of points over this past week, as he found out more about what was going on. But the above link is a good summary.

      What is amazing is how so many VSPs are distorting what actually happened to suit their agendas (mostly to support austerity).

    • Don_B1

      @StilllHere:disqus @MrNutso:disqus @rwb:disqus 

      Additional information is here:

      http://ftalphaville.ft.com/2013/03/22/1435062/cyprus-just-pop-the-red-pill-please/?

      Hopefully it is not behind a paywall.

  • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

    FTA:
    Office of Campaign and Political Finance Director Michael Sullivan also refused to divulge any details of the transparency-promoting event. “I’m sure you’re a good guy,” Sullivan said, “but I’m not telling you.”One lawmaker leaving the meeting even tried to pass himself off as an innocent bystander.http://bostonherald.com/news_opinion/local_politics/2013/03/commissions_meeting_on_openness_closed_to_herald

    • hennorama

      Ahhh … the old “We’re going to be open with everyone – everyone who’s in this private closed meeting, that is” trick.

      Good ol’ Orwellian logic.  Sort of like:

      “I reminded [the soldiers] and their families that the war in Iraq is really about peace, trying to make the world more peaceful.”
      - Pres.George W. Bush, April 2003

      http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0304/11/se.05.html

  • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

    There are many reasons why people have losty faith in our elected officials.

  • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

    FTA:
    “The government should not tax people’s private savings accounts, which they have already paid taxes on, especially for the purpose of funding more bailouts,” Long said. “I was shocked by the news that some countries might be considering these kinds of taxes, and I think Congress should say that this kind of tax won’t happen in America.”Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/house/289213-cyprus-banking-crisis-inspires-house-resolution-against-raiding-savings-accounts#ixzz2OGx5Uis4 

    • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

      But there are some that seem to be working to earn our respect.

    • jimino

      Maybe someone in Congress could propose a resolution that bans all Congress members from proposing ridiculous resolutions that have no impact on any actual problems for purely political reasons.

      Or maybe since “some countries” are considering enacting Sharia law we need a bevy of Congressional resolutions from those “working to earn our respect” on that subject too.

      Do you really not know the difference between shit from shinola?

      • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

        If we banned ridiculous resolutions then that would prevent the House Democrats from briging out their budget. ;)

         http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/budget/288773-house-dem-budget-has-more-taxes-stimulus-than-senate-budget

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        Please don’t tell me the GOP congress’ new role model is the Mississippi lege. Even Texas is looking askance at Jackson.

  • Gregg Smith
  • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

    FTA:
    “Someone called family services about the photo,” said Evan Nappen, an attorney representing Shawn Moore. “It led to an incredible, heavy-handed raid on his house. They wanted to see his gun safe, his guns and search his house. They even threatened to take his kids.”

    http://townhall.com/columnists/toddstarnes/2013/03/20/familys-home-raided-over-facebook-photo-of-childs-rifle-n1543734

  • Fredlinskip

        The most astounding thing for me in whole gun debate is that it has brought to light how many people out there believe that somehow Constitution and Bill of Rights grants them the right to “overthrow their government” if they deem it has become too “TYRANNICAL”. 
       As such, Gabby’s and many other’s blood IS ON THEIR HANDS.
    Constitution makes such a claim only in their warped imaginations.

         I don’t know if they simply lack the mental acuity to understand or simply enjoy encouraging belief that shooting innocent people who do not maintain their warped belief system..
     IS A GOOD THING.   
         

  • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

    FTA:
    DeLancy says his group’s experience makes clear why critics of voter ID can claim almost no fraud exists. “Prosecutors don’t make voter fraud a priority, and basically don’t act unless someone refers an airtight case to them,” he told me. He noted that VIP was lucky both North Carolina and Florida have relatively open voter records which can be searched for problems. Some states, such as California, don’t even have a statewide database of voters, so there’s no realistic way for outside groups to detect fraud.“The fraud deniers give good sound bites,” says DeLancy, “but their claim that there is almost no fraud is as absurd as claiming that no speeding happens on I-40 unless the Highway Patrol writes tickets.”

    http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/343422/voting-early-and-more-one-state-john-fund

    • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

      The problem of voter fraud is larger than anyone wants to admit.  

      • jefe68

        No the problem is you keep making stuff up.

        • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

          Thanks for your response.  Such as it is.

      • anamaria23

        If I knew of one person committing voter fraud,   I would go to authorities and so would others I know.

      • anamaria23

        How do you know and what are you doing about it.  Please tell.

    • anamaria23

      How do you know voter fraud is so large?

      • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

        Thank you for your response.  You are correct to point out that I can not know all the voter fraud happening in all the elections across our nation.  But I can attest to the fact that voter fraud happens and needs to be addressed.  How many reports about actionable voter fraud would it take for you to believe that it is a problem?  How many more cases would it take to make you want to take action?

      • Gregg Smith

        It seems to me the harder question is, how can we know it isn’t? Requiring ID would help. It is impossible to know how many folks come in and say they are someone else, vote and do it again.

        • anamaria23

          In my community and others that I have lived in, once I vote my name is crossed off
          I cannot get a ballot without  first presenting myself at the appropriate place.
          I am only registered to vote in one community at a time.  It  would be very difficult for me to vote in other precincts or towns without an address provided by the yearly census and when I register.

          I am not against voter ID  however as a furthur safeguard.

          The greater insult to democracy is the 50% who never vote and are just along for the ride.

          • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

            They are two faces of the same issue.  Voter fraud would not be effective if everyone voted.  And more people would vote if they trusted the system.  It is far too easy to vote fraudulently.  

      • Acnestes

        The Americans In Name Only who call themselves the Republican Party got stomped at the polls.  Voter fraud is the only possible explanation.

        • Gregg Smith

          I have heard no Republicans who do not accept the results of the election as being valid.

        • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

          Aren’t you about 150 years too late? Sorry Acnestes, the South will not rise again.  

    • WorriedfortheCountry

      Even the UN monitors were incredulous that we don’t use photo ids at the voting booth because almost every civilized democracy use photo ids.  We are now laughing stocks of the clowns at the UN.

      • MrNutso

        Then we should appropriate funds to hire people to go door to door and make sure everyone is registered to vote and has an official voting ID.  It could be done with an iPad and a portable printer.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

          Hey, when the goal is setting up roadblocks to voting, don’t you go offering them alternate routes!

  • albert Sordi

    WMDs ?????  AGAIN??   
    Has’nt this strategy been discredited already?   But the
    western media is shlepping this myth like a bad movie sequel.
     Assad nor his commanders would be that stupid
    to use chemicals, when they are already beating the desperate groups of insurgents.
    Listening to the recent Charlie Rose interview, this despicable excuse for a human being, Rep. Mike Rogers speaks about “not waiting for piles of bodies”(Condi’s mushroom clouds) due to the ubiquitous WMD’s, which he
    states, requires a preemptive attack by the USA on Syria.  
    Brazingly spouting AUDACIOUS LIES in very halting carefully chosen words, this zionist stooge Rogers continues to front for the now-hidden neocon war criminals, Wolfowitz, Pearl,
    Kagan, still dripping with blood in the shadows with their PNAC plan delayed but still in tack.  
    After millions dead and maimed, trillions of $$ wasted, this demon incarnate posing as a representative of (people?) presents a grotesque image of a re-occuring nightmare. 
    While the sane world is reporting that the west has supplied the chemical WMD which are now in the hands,of, and being used by, the US/Israeli/Saudi backed Al-CIAda rebels.

  • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

    FTA:
    As TSG reported last week, after Blumenthal’s e-mail account was compromised, the hacker searched it for e-mails sent to Clinton, and further sorted the mail to segregate any attachment–like Word files–that were included in Blumenthal’s correspondence to Clinton. Many of these pilfered documents were memos to Clinton on foreign policy and intelligence matters.

    http://www.thesmokinggun.com/buster/sidney-blumenthal/hacker-distributes-memos-784091

    • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

      Is this the only way that the American people will get answers about the Benghazi Attack?  

      • Gregg Smith

        The best I can tell, America is not demanding answers. The press sure isn’t. 

        McCain and Graham are a couple of my least favorite Republican Senators except for this issue.

    • jimino

      More incompetence and deaths have occurred every single day of our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.  There’s several thousand “Benghazis” to concern you.  Are you just incapable of attaining some perspective or do you have some other goal driving you?

  • Phil McCoy

    missed the boat on yesterday’s gun control issue but my two cents:

    1.) As a centre-left/liberal non-gun owning american in favor of gun control laws, the assault weapons ban seems silly (so many ways to circumvent it). I would prefer to see liability for gun manufacturers instead, sellers, buyers, and companies that do background checks instead. I generally oppose excessive litigation but if you hold people and corporations monetarily responsible for these products, they will probably be more efficient at stopping gun violence, nothing is as good of an incentive as money.2.) The second amendment needs some reinterpreting among people who are scared of government overreach. I hear many people who claim they are worried about a potentially tyrannical government and need their guns. Sure back in 1789, when private citizens could afford similar weaponry to nation-states that might have been a valid reason but now self defense against government seems like bad reasoning. What good is an automatic weapon against a predator drone, supersonic jet or even an M1 Abrams Tank? It seems the simple fact is that a private citizen (or group of citizens) cannot match the weaponry of a government (look over in Syria, where rebels are being supplied with weapons from governments and still cannot topple Assad. Rest assured the US has much more sophisticated weapons than him). Either we need to let private citizens purchase weapons like tanks and warships or we need to accept the fact that defense against the government is, in reality, not a good argument. In theory it sounds good in practice it just sounds silly.

  • creaker

    Iraq war, 10 years on – what an atrocity. What did all that death and suffering accomplish?

    And as a side issue to that – while some people like to pin $16 trillion in debt on Obama, $3 trillion of it was from this stupid war.

    • John_in_Amherst

       and then there will be the medical expenses for GI’s who served there going forward…

    • sickofthechit

       plus a trillion or so for Afghanistan, and $1 trillion for the unpaid for Medicare Drug benefit.

      • Don_B1

        But since PPACA (Obamacare) did pick up the costs, the Medicare Drug benefit is now paid for in the future.

    • jimino

      And that does not include the interest to be paid that SO concerns the teabaggers now.  The entire operation was done with borrowed money.  

  • Wahoo_wa

    More empty words from Obummer.

    • jefe68

      More juvenile comments from Wahoo_wa.

      • Wahoo_wa

        Resorting to personal attacks….so typical.

        • sickofthechit

           Pointing out a comment as being “juvenile” is not a personal attack.  Lighten up.

  • Ellen Dibble

    The president was channeling Martin Luther King, what I heard, saying that he is proud to have brought the seder to the White House, that he has been inspired by the story of escape from slavery into a land of one’s own, just as many Americans have, and that not so long ago, his daughters would not have had the kind of opportunities they have today.  (I refer you to Bruce Feiler’s America’s Prophet:  Moses and the American Story, 2009.)  
        Ironically, Americans are opposite to Israelis here.  Obama says he understands Jews having needed to reconnect with their history.  So maybe Americans need to go back to their roots too?  Statue of Liberty notwithstanding?  And seek their freedom in their homelands?  Hmm.
        But the seder story in Israel today, with that hope of historic change in the style of the Civil Rights Movement under Martin Luther King, that is currently the struggle of young Israelis on behalf of the Palestinians, it seems to me.

    • Gregg Smith

      I heard him make the comparison and was taken aback. I don’t think the analogy fit at all.

      • Ellen Dibble

        My own acquaintance with the Civil Rights movement was to watch white middle and upper class college students take off for the South, to help in various ways with the civil rights movement.  It was not their own interests that were at stake; it was an injustice in the status quo, an unjust peace, if you will, that they sought to correct.  
            Just because we don’t hear about it in the news media doesn’t mean it isn’t happening in Israel, or in Palestine.  The “squeaky wheel” that I keep hearing is Israelis and Palestinians demonizing each other and interfering with each other.  I don’t know Hebrew or Arabic, but I’ve been trying to listen on line, and it seems to me there is plenty of that kind of “civil rights” sentiment, and I’m not sure how popular it is.  It took quite a bit of courage here back in the 1960s too, a little like siding with the enemy, or certainly siding with a hopeless cause.  It was raw determination and a sense of injustice that college kids can embrace wholeheartedly, and have the time/freedom to act on.  ”Oh, I spent the summer getting arrested, going around Mississippi on buses, standing beside segregated people to make them safe…”

        • Gregg Smith

          But the civil rights movement did not include one faction that had the goal of eliminating the other in the name of God.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I listened carefully to what Mahmoud Abbas said to CBS’s Major Garrett, I think is his name, in answer to the news pool yesterday, who asked about settlements.  The president had been saying that if you start negotiations with all the issues pre-resolved, what kind of negotiations is that?  In other words, no missiles from Gaza, no settlements.  Obama said there were political reasons that the knesset was not going to stop the settlements.  But in the meantime, they  can create security for Israel and a contiguous viable state with independent opportunity to be as entrepreneurial as Palestinians have always been (the original Mediterranean fishermen, I think).  

        So Abbas was listing, at the close of the news conference, all the benefits that would accrue if that standoff were resolved.  I think he mentioned “57″ Arab nations that would no longer be inflamed at Israel and the United States, the Arab League and another Muslim organization.  This is the sticking point.  It sounds like a 10 percent approval rating for Obama in (a) Israel and (b) the Arab world would spike.   The very cold shoulder that the PLO felt after the November vote in the United Nations for recognition seems to have been skipped over.  Maybe it has been explained to Abbas what Obama said to Israel, that the USA’s security depends on a strong relationship with Israel.  Security.  So we have to be their best friend, historical reverberations or not.

  • albert Sordi

    Both GUN CONTROL at home and give weapons to extremists to  ATTACK SYRIA ???  Yes indeed… Dianne Feinstein.
    The mentor for attack-Syria Representative Rogers,  is
    the warmonger (but anti-gun advocate)Senator Dianne Feinstein, also a purveyor of re-baked WMD lies, while frantically attempting to disarm the US patriots, who by now, clearly know her game.  
    Feinstein’s perfidy transcends treason. 
    An evil woman, who through pro-zionist legislating and manipulation, has endorsed the deaths of hundreds of thousands of middle eastern children, while she feigns
    concern for the few unfortunate ones at Sandy Hook.
     Feinstein represents not her constituency, but an international cabal, who have for decades crushed millions in their trail of greed and twisted elitist ideology.

    • jefe68

      International cabal? disarm the US patriots?
      You seem a little off color in some way…

      • alsordi

        Well let’s see:
        Almost all of the people who legally buy assault type weapons, consider themselves ardent patriots… more so than others.
        And Senator Feinstein’s foreign policy and financial legislation certainly hasn’t benefitted the average american, as it has foreign entities like banking and Israel. 

        So in what way am I off color here???  

        • jefe68

          You really do not have a clue, do you.
          Have you ever heard of the Protocols of Zion?

          Almost all of the people who legally buy assault type weapons, consider themselves ardent patriots… more so than others.

          Wow, talk about a loaded comment.

  • William

     We should not become involved with Syria’s civil war.

    • Don_B1

      While I am supportive of the aspirations of the majority of the Syrian people for more rights and freedom, I agree with President Obama that any intervention must be because it can shorten the conflict with less loss of life for all Syrians. This is difficult to judge in that world of unknowns, but I found the discussion on the Charlie Rose show between Martin Indyk, (Brookings Institute and Ambassador to Israel under President Clinton) and Itamar Rabinovitch (President of the Israel Institute and Ambassador to the U.S. under Prime Minister Rabin) helpful. See:

      http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/12838

      But I did find it symptomatic of the way certain narratives get promulgated in the MSM when both ambassadors included in comments how presidents before President Obama had devoted themselves to continuous courtship of Israel’s people through support for its aspirations even when some of them were not helpful. But I remember comments on how President Clinton was trying to make up for his lack of attention in his frantic negotiations with Arafat in the last six months of his presidency and President George W. Bush’s decision to not put too much effort on Israel-Palestinian Authority negotiations. Wow!

  • creaker

    I’m surprised Syria is not using all those Iraqi WMD’s people were insisting were being smuggled into Syria 10 years ago.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Phil, I think, calling asking for liability by gun manufacturers.  The cost of gun damage could be thrown back to manufacturers who manage to get their guns into the hands of people who cause costly damage:  (a) for the physical damage to individuals, (b) for the psychological trauma resonating through the family, and the loss in income to caregivers, and (c) to the judicial system and corrections system for the cost of prosecuting and defending individuals who got those guns, and then the cost of keeping them locked up for X number of years, not to mention the cost of rehabilitating people who have committed crimes which end up victimizing the perpetrators in terms of ruining their lives.  Does AIG offer that kind of insurance?

  • usteacherinkurdistan

    Take any speech our President makes about the gulf between Jews of Israel and Palestinians in the Middle East  and substitute Sunni and Shiite Arabs as respective political interest groups and you arrive at a much more violent and confrontation situation. Imagine a world without their terrors currently being played out in Syria. Still looking for the peace of Islamic politics. The Kuwaitis deported all Palestinians in their country after the greater Palestinian populations of the Middle East stood by Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait and that was over 20 years ago….Israel has not followed the Kuwait model….

  • Ellen Dibble

    To me, the issue with guns is that you can kill without malice or cruelty.  You can point and press, and no one is gasping for breath under your very hands, and so forth.  If you’re going to be cruel and malicious, that’s one thing.  But with guns, you don’t even have to have a whole lot of intention.  Just whim.  IMHO.

    • hennorama

      Ellen Dibble – this is a major factor in suicides using firearms as well. 

      The ease of access to firearms, combined with their ease of use – as you said “You can point and press” – combined with the virtually instantaneous pain-free death explains the fact that about 2 of every 3 deaths involving a firearm are suicides.

      According to CDC data, firearms are used as the means of suicide more by males that by females, but females use firearms a great deal as well:

      “Percentage of Suicides Among Persons Ages 10 Years and Older, by Sex and Mechanism, United States, 2005–2009

      “During 2005–2009, the greatest percentage of suicides among males occurred by firearms (56.3%) while the greatest percentage of suicides among females occurred by poisoning (39.3%).”

      Females used firearms about 31.0% of the time overall.

      http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/suicide/statistics/mechanism01.html

      The older one is, the more likely one is to use a firearm to commit suicide as well, again especially if one is male:

      “During 2005–2009, the greatest percentage of suicides among males in each age group, 10 to 24 years, 25 to 64 years, and 65 years and older occurred by firearms (49.7%, 51.9%, and 79.1%, respectively). The greatest percentage of suicides among females ages 10 to 24 years occurred by suffocation (48.5%). The greatest percentage of suicides among females ages 25 to 64 years and 65 years and older occurred by poisoning (42.8%, and 36.1% respectively).”

      http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/suicide/statistics/mechanism02.html

      If one steps back from the justifiable emotional responses to the mass murder of schoolchildren, a more rational view would be to first look at the far more common occurence of suicides using firearms as the means of dispatch.

      Recent Executive Orders from Pres. Obama will allow greater data disclosure from Federal agencies and more research about firearms use and misuse.  This will help by putting more objective information into the hands of the public and policymakers, and will help guide the actions taken toward common goals.

      This lack of data reporting is quite clear.  The CDC “National Violent Death Reporting System” only has data from 18 states!  The FBI crime data is also incomplete.  This MUST change.

      http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/nvdrs/

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    Thank God for the Constitution to protect us from these Statists and demagogues. 

    • creaker

      Actually, the Bill of Rights and other amendments that followed. Kind of scary thinking all our rights were kind of an afterthought (“whoops – we forgot about the people, better add a few things”)
       

    • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

      The Constitution is only the tool that active and courageous citizens can use to tame the excesses of our government.  Without people patriotically committed to the ideals of our nation the Constitution is just an old scrap of paper.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Cyprus — I’d like a set of programs on Russia since 1990.  I think Gorbachev is still alive.  What does he think?  What has happened to Eastern Orthodox religion since then; wasn’t the USSR suppressing religion as a countervailing authority?  What happens with their new “free enterprise”? and their new “democracy”?  It seems to me that all centers on Cyprus, all the corruption and greed that escapes through the seams.  
        I think it’s important now because it seems only Russia can make a deal between the the Alawites and the insurgents in Syria, and they have a warm water port in Syria that apparently is worth their getting involved.  Besides Syria, it seems to me they are close enough to Iran to offer them a nuclear canopy.  Iran seems to be saying they are in a “dangerous neighborhood,” with nuclear powers to the east (Pakistan), the west (Israel), and north (Russia).  They have a point.  

  • Wahoo_wa
  • Steve_the_Repoman

    Can Russia afford to play both ends against the middle?

    The Russian oligarchs may be willing to take an “EU haircut” forced by German demands if it means that the banking difficulty in Cyprus spreads to Greece and potentially other parts of the EU.

    Ultimately strengthening Russia.

    • hennorama

      Steve_the_Repoman – Russian energy giant Gazprom may also get VERY cheap oil and gas resources as part of any deal to save the Cypriot banking system.  A bailout deal will of course be saving the money of the Russians who have very large deposits in that system.  Reports indicate that one third to one half of all deposits in the Cyprus banks are made by Russians.

      Gazprom could easily finance some or all of the $7.5 Billion needed to placate the EU and to complete the bailout, and it would be a very good deal for Gazprom.  Here’s what a Christian Science Monitor article says, for some perspective on Gazprom’s reasoning:

      “Gazprom has apparently offered a deal to save the Cypriot economy, and the Russian wealth held there, by suggesting that Cyprus sell it the exploration rights to the promising offshore natural gas deposits in the Mediterranean Sea.

      “This offer just highlights Gazprom’s willingness to seize any opportunity and exploit any weakness in an attempt to increase its position and power within Europe.

      “Securing the rights to Cyprus’s undeveloped gas reserves would give Gazprom a strong supply of gas and continued power for generations to come, and also prevent any potential competitors from extracting the reserves to threaten Gazprom’s monopoly in Europe.”

      http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/Energy-Voices/2013/0321/Cyprus-gets-bailout-offer-from-Russian-gas-giant-Gazprom

  • usteacherinkurdistan

    My wife and I spent the 2011-2012 school year as volunteers teaching in the Kurdish region of Iraq at  www dot cmedes dot org

    Here is one of my algebra students telling me about a poster depicting his now deceased dad-
    “He was a well-known writer/poet; that’s why they put up a picture of him next to other known writers or poets of Sulaymaniah in honor of the Newroz celebrations here.My Dad wrote about other Kurdish literary works sometimes. He wrote articles in newspapers and was a huge advocate of having a Kurdish country of our own. He often wrote about how Kirkuk belongs to Kurdistan. His poems were also on the same background. He has a poem talking about the “Peshmerga”s bravery and courage in fighting the Ba’th regime. He also translated other works into Kurdish or the other way around. My father lived in Russia for 8 years, so his Russian was pretty good. He also knew Arabic, English and Kurdish very well.We have a Library of all the books he read, as well as the ones he wrote. There are lots.”
    My student S is a pretty special young man who wants to attend college in US. He has about 2 years to work that out.

  • ianway

    All the reportage reminiscing wistfully on the oh-so-unfortunate invasion of Iraq and melodramatic soul-searching and NO coverage of the largest, world-wide protest against the invariable march towards mass murder on behalf of a minority of people who NEVER have to personally suffer the consequences.  Media: heal thyself!

  • creaker

    On Cyprus and the folks investing (hiding?) their money there. Bigger returns involve bigger risk. Enough said. It’s just sad that like everywhere else, it will be the working class and poor that take the biggest haircut to pay for that risk so the rest don’t have to.

  • Steve_in_Vermont

    Yesterday I spoke about concerns I have with background checks and a response
    was to simply have everyone purchasing a gun go through a FFL dealer, as they do
    now when a gun is bought from this business. My question is how do we monitor
    this type of system? Would the records (of this transaction) be kept by the local
    dealer? Sent to a “National Registry”? These “specific” details, on how such a
    system would work, need to be addressed before most gun owners will support it.
    It’s not enough to simply say “go to a FFL dealer and get a background check”.
    If you want our (gun owners) support please answer these questions.

    • hennorama

      Steve_in_Vermont – as I was the poster who gave the “… response … to simply have everyone purchasing a gun go through a FFL dealer, as they do now …” I’ll take first crack at it.

      1.  No changes to the NICS recordkeeping
      2.  No changes to NICS procedures

      Let’s keep it simple.  Same system as now, with no difference in recordkeeping.

      FYI, many Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) have routinely been doing this prior to the recent changes in some state firearms laws, especially the New York SAFE Act.

      The ATF has issued procedures to codify this.  Here are some links that may help you:

      http://www.atf.gov/regulations-rulings/procedures/031513-open-letter-atf-procedure-2013-1.pdf
      http://www.atf.gov/regulations-rulings/procedures/031513-procedure-2013-1.pdf

      • Steve_in_Vermont

        I understand this, but right now the only records being kept of gun transactions are at local gun stores, many small operations in rural communities. The only way for these new proposals (checks and “straw purchases”) to work is not by records kept in thousands of individual gun stores but through a national registry. While I don’t support a NR, I also don’t support half baked regulations that don’t address the problem. When congress gives us some specifics we’ll have more details to work with.

        • hennorama

          Steve_in_Vermont – Thanks for your reply. I appreciate and respect your views.

          I think we’re looking at two different questions here.

          The first, which I thought you were asking, is “What are the nuts-and-bolts of background checks for private firearms sales?” I answered that one – essentially it’s the same as it has already been.

          The second, which you seem to be asking now in your reply, is “Will there be greater scrutiny and analysis of firearms purchase records, in addition to a requirement for universal routine NICS checks on private sales?” Please correct me if I’m wrong.

          I don’t know the answer to that question, but based on past experience, it seems unlikely that there will be much in the way of new law, or repeal of old laws and regulations that suppress information and discourage research into firearms safety and firearms deaths, as well as limiting the ability of authorities to trace weapons used in crimes.

          Pres. Obama issued 23 Executive Orders related to “Gun Violence Reduction” in January. Several of these are related to data on firearms. You can read them here:

          http://www.newsmax.com/Headline/Obama-guns-executive-orders/2013/01/16/id/471689

          One of the problems with addressing various firearms issues is a lack of data. Many of the Executive Orders address this lack of data issue. Here’s some background:

          The NRA and firearms manufacturers have actively suppressed and discouraged research into firearms safety and firearms deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was effectively barred from such research since 1996, when the following sentence was inserted into the law that funded the CDC:

          “Provided further, That none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.”

          http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-104publ208/pdf/PLAW-104publ208.pdf

          The CDC is not the only Federal agency impacted by NRA and firearms manufacturers’ efforts to restrict the availability of info about firearms. Believe it or not, the ATF is also restricted in its ability to release trace data on firearms due to the Tiahrt Amendment (TA)

          Under TA, the ATF is restricted from publicly disclosing both firearms trace data (on firearms used in crimes), and analysis of patterns of sales of firearms used in crimes. For instance, due to TA, it is nearly impossible to know how many Bushmaster .223s are used in crimes. This is like prohibiting the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from disclosing the makes and models of vehicles with safety defects.

          TA also requires that the Dept. of Justice (DOJ) destroy certain criminal background check records after only 24 hours. The Justice Department Inspector General found that the 24-hour destruction policy makes it easier for corrupt dealers “to falsify the NICS check to hide a knowing transfer of a gun to a prohibited person” (Department of Justice, 2004).”

          TA prohibits the ATF from requiring annual gun dealer inventories. If a gun dealer is corrupt, they can claim that firearms are stolen or lost, then sell them “off the books,” making these firearms practically untraceable.

          For example, former gun dealer and National Rifle Association (NRA) Board Member Sandy Abrams, who eventually lost his license after being cited for more than 900 violations of federal gun laws, had 422 guns missing in one inspection, more than one-quarter of his inventory, and his shop had over 483 firearms traced to crimes (Brady Center, 2006).

          http://www.bradycampaign.org/legislation/gunlobbybacked/Tiahrt

          • Steve_in_Vermont

            I don’t believe we’re that far apart. An analogy would be registering a car at a
            local dealership with no records going to the state. What a nightmare for law
            enforcement. My frustration is not just with guns but with a lack of agreement
            on almost every issue in our society. If I trusted my government more I’d have
            no problem with registering my guns. But as it stands now politicians blow with
            the wind and I’d never be sure what the next regulation (regarding guns) would
            be. This is the same government that took us into Iraq and Afghanistan, ran up
            trillions in debt, etc, etc. I’m concerned their current proposals are just that
            and soon this will be followed by more restrictive laws leading to…..who knows
            where. I just want good fair laws from a responsible government. That’s not what I feel we have today.

          • hennorama

            Steve_in_Vermont – Thanks for your reply. I appreciate and respect

            your views.

            I understand your frustrations with the Federal government, which I generally share. A few days ago, I used the example of Dick Cheney’s quote “I did what I did. It’s all on the public record, and I feel very good about it. If I had to do it over again, I’d do it in a minute” as what I described as “merely the most public example of stubborn refusal to acknowledge error. This crassness in the face of the obvious leads to further erosion of Americans’ trust in government.”

            Clearly firearms registration would make sense for a variety of reasons, as you pointed out. But registration is extremely unlikely to happen anytime soon.

            What I find difficult to understand is the sentiment behind your statement (which is one of the more reasonable on the topic, BTW):

            “If I trusted my government more I’d have no problem with registering my guns.”

            What do you fear about registration? Taxation? Confiscation? Insurance requirements?

            One hears NRA spokesperson W. LaPierre say

            “In the end, there are only two reasons for government to create that federal registry of gun owners — to tax them and to take them.”

            Source:http://livewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/entry/nras-lapierre-chinese-hackers-could-grab-your-gun

            Is that the fear/reluctance – confiscation? If so, that flies in the face of all past experience in the U.S.

            For example, according to the ATF, there are over 2 million (2,064,091) registered “Destructive Devices” (AKA bombs, grenades, grenade launchers, rockets, missiles and artillery), as well as nearly a half million machine guns (488,065) registered under the National Firearms Act. All legally owned. None confiscated.

            http://www.atf.gov/publications/firearms/050412-firearms-commerce-in-the-us-annual-statistical-update-2012.pdf (pgs. 15 & 16)

            These weapons have not been confiscated from the general public. They have been confiscated only when used in crimes, or when discovered as being unregistered or illegally smuggled, etc.

            This is why I don’t understand the opposition to registration – it has not led to general confiscation in the past, even when a much smaller number of weapons was involved, like the 2.55 million combined “destructive devices” and machine guns detailed above.

            There are something like 300 million firearms in the U.S. at present. Is confiscation a reasonable likelihood given that enormous number?

            Steve – please help me understand.

          • Steve_in_Vermont

            When congress takes up this issue there will be numerous amendments attached to the proposal. One I have heard is a requirement a seller of any gun prove ownership, otherwise the gun will be confiscated. Many of us have guns passed down in the family but no paperwork to prove it. In my opinion all the government needs to know is I can legally possess a firearm. Perhaps the best thing we can do is wait and see EXACTLY what is proposed. I want to see it in writing, every word. Many proposals from Washington have wide spread support….until people read the fine print. We’ll see, but I still don’t trust them.

          • hennorama

            Fair enough. TY for your reply.

  • Anita Paul

    The Iraq war was a national disgrace.

  • creaker

    Maybe we can bring back 10th anniversary freedom fries?

  • DrewInGeorgia

    We should have learned the lessons before we ‘ran out of money, resources, and time’ as your guest says. We should have never gone into Iraq, there is not and has never been justification for backing the invasion. ‘I was swept up in the Hubris’…What a sorry excuse for an excuse. Preemption should be removed from our collective vocabularies. You backed it? You bought it. Deal with it. You don’t get off the hook when you voluntarily placed yourself on it to begin with.

    • jimino

      And that doesn’t even touch on the “let’s-cut-taxes-for everyone-while-we-go-off-to-war-because-(our)deficits-don’t-matter” idiocy.  Those who called for that combination are truly detestable.

      • Gregg Smith

        Please, could you be more clichéd? Bush is gone and so are his fingerprints, the podium no longer smells of sulfur. Do you think Obama thinks deficits matter?

        • jimino

          Those who demand we send our citizens off to an expensive and lengthy war while demanding they should not have to pay for it or for the damage it does both to our citizens and those we impact are, and I do not use the term loosely, detestable.

          • Gregg Smith

            I would agree but I am glad the poor got a break because times were tough after the tech bubble popped. Then 9/11 came and it was touch and go. I think it was prudent to give back the surplus in the form of $300 checks. I also think it was prudent that the rich paid a bit more of the bill after the tax cuts so the poor didn’t half to. The increase in revenue was another factor that helped after the tax cuts.

    • Gregg Smith

      It’s impossible to measure the extent of the empowering message it would have sent radical Muslims all over the glove who were intent on killing us if we had allowed Hussein to stay in power given his track record and enemy status. It seems to me you are either not factoring that dynamic or dismiss it out of hand. You are lucky to be able to do so.

      • jimino

        “the extent of the empowering message it would have sent radical Muslims
        all over the glove who were intent on killing us if we had allowed
        Hussein to stay in power”

        Now that’s in the running for the most out-of-touch-with-reality analysis of the last 10 years I have ever heard.

        • Gregg Smith

          You are assuming everything would have been peachy if we had not gone to Iraq. With all due respect, that’s insane.

          • nj_v2

            Greggg, whose panties get twisted when he imagines someone telling him what he thinks, now knows what someone else is assuming.

            This guy’s a piece of work.

          • Gregg Smith

            It’s clear. How is it possible to make the comment without assuming not going to Iraq was a preferable option?

          • Tyranipocrit

             everything would have been peachy if we did not go into iraq.  And you support a nazi policy.  Yes i said it–its called world domination.  It was completey insane to believe that crap.  ANyone who bought it was just plain dumb or evil,  Period.

          • Gregg Smith

            Alrighty then.

      • nj_v2

        Clueless no longer describes the world Greggg lives in. It’s beyond clueless, now comprising negative clue-ness, kind of like anti-matter. 

        Or something. Analogies fail.

        • Gregg Smith

          It’s not about me.

  • Ellen Dibble

    It’s beginning to seem obvious that civil wars have to be fought by the people themselves.  In 1860, the USA couldn’t have imported say Germans and French to come over and fight a proxy war over their respective interests.  The idea that slavery was necessary to our economic well-being and the idea that slavery was very wrong were represented by two sides WITHIN the United States.  And that was what had to be thrashed out.  There are still vestiges.  How to get the Syrians to sort it out “at the table”?  Who the heck are we to speak?

  • creaker

    The media , NPR included, should take a look at how they ignored and underplayed and in many cases villainized the antiwar movement 10 years ago.

    • TomK_in_Boston

      ….and how they swallowed the “WMD” bait, hook, line and sinker.

      I haven’t seen much critical examination of the Iranian threat – have you? Any headlines along the lines of “Iranian nuke threat exaggerated”??They are doing the same thing now by parroting plutocrat propaganda on the deficit and the need for “entitlement reform”. They treat anyone who wants to cut SS and medicare with great respect and they treat anyone who says the deficit is no big deal right now as a loon.

  • ckinvctr

    I sincerely HOPE that we are in a post-hubris era.  But when I listen to the neo-cons who lied us into Iraq and their continuing attempts to justify their war, I really worry that history is being rewritten so that we can make all the mistakes again.

    • Wahoo_wa

      …and then there’s our current President.  You can’t win with the major parties really.

    • TomK_in_Boston

      Ready to go after the “WMD” in syria and iran?

  • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

    I strikes me as strange that so many commenters do not choose an avatar.

    • JGC

      I did choose one: It’s called “Shadowy Dark Figure”. It’s frustrating that so many of these other commenters are  using my avatar. Impostors all! 

      • hennorama

        Here I am thinking all along that the profile thingie was the default setting, after the  avatar question is asked and answered thusly – “Opt in? No.”

        “Opt in? No.” is an anagram of On Point, from my coffee-fueled morning brain.  Belated apologies and only one order of eyerolls per person, please.

  • sickofthechit

    Harry Reid is as gutless as they come.  He could have changed the Filibuster rule and gotten rid of the 60 vote requirement when this Congress began in January, but he is afraid the Republicans may one day take control and really trash the country.   Senority sucks if you ask me.   Give’em hell Harry?. He won’t even give them Heck!  charles A. bowsher

  • sickofthechit

    I say Teachers and Administrators with Tasers.  Make the tasers so they are adjustable by voice commands such as-
    -”Obstinate first grader”
    -”Out of control Third grader”
    -”Surly Sixth Grader”
    -”Malevolent middle schooler”
    -”High as a kite high schooler”
    -”Crazed Maniac” etc., etc.,etc.

    • hennorama

      What about “enraged parent” (Or is that the same as “Crazed Maniac”)?

    • StilllHere

      Only for schools?  Could come in handy at the waterparks this summer.

  • sickofthechit

    As for our “Wars”.  We were gutless to not demand more loudly that Iraq not happen.  Afghanistan should have been done using precision teams targeting the actual terrorists.

    The American public should have been made to go into war “mode” as we did in World War Two.  War Bonds, resource drives, a draft, collective action to support our troops, and absolutely no profiteering or privatizing of the war effort.

    We are for the most part a lazy nation compared to our parents and grandparents.

    Charles A. Bowsher

  • JGC

    The Canadian budget is out, crafted by the Stephen Harper Conservative government. Here’s a few things I can look forward to in 2013 as a Canadian resident/dual citizen: 

    -”In all my years of watching budgets, I’ve never seen the government go after so many loopholes,” said David Mason, a tax partner at Deloitte in Ottawa.  Bye bye dividend tax credit to small businesses, which was a scheme where instead of owners being paid a salary from their business which would have been taxable at the higher earned income rate, alternatively was set up as an investment where dividends were paid out to the owner at the much lower dividend tax rate. (Similar to what is still happening with carried interest for the Wall Street banksters in the U.S.) And R.I.P. “synthetic disposition”, which is tax-planning trickery where a business avoids triggering capital gains tax by selling shares in a different company, then taking out a bank loan and pledging to pay it off using the shares at a later date; convoluted and complicated and perfectly legal, until today. (It also sounds a lot like a tax avoidance technique being used in the U.S. by our bankster friends who are washing their profits in the offshore accounts, before repatriating their money back at home under a different tax-avoiding entity.)

    -Hello new Building Canada plan, combining $47-billion in fresh funding, and linking the grants to federal construction and maintenance projects with the employment of apprentices in the trades, boosting employment and training a new generation of skilled workers. Projects with capital costs of more than $100-million will be booted into Public-Private Partnership sharing.

    -Goodbye import tariffs on hockey equipment! Also on golf, skiing, snowboarding  and cricket equipment, where duties applied can be as high as 20%.  It is a “test case” to see if removal of tariffs will result in lower prices being passed on to the consumer.

    Harper vows to eliminate the $26-billion federal budget deficit by 2015 – just in time for the next election.

    • Gregg Smith

      God bless the Conservatives. 

    • hennorama

      JGC – Isn’t there anything left that we can Blame Canada for?

      Now there are Canuckians on top teams playing during March Madness.  (No, that’s not what Canadians call “midwinter”).  Will the horrors of Canadian exports* never end?

      *Excluding La Fin du Monde, Moosehead (no jokes about desperate male hunters, SVP), Molson Canadian and Labbatt Blue, of course

      http://theideaslab.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/blg_blame_canada.jpg

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    You can”t make this stuff.  Government spending is completely out of control.

    Biden’s first trip out of the country this year incurred the following costs:

    London – 1 night hotel stay $459K
    Paris  – 1 night hotel stay $585K

    Of course this is just the hotel bill for his entourage and not the TOTAL spending.

    Does anyone even know what Biden was doing in Europe and what he accomplished?  Were there any pressing funerals?

    Cutting out this crap is NOT austerity.

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/bidens-one-night-paris-hotel-tab-58500050_708799.html

    • StilllHere

      Does K stand for kippers or something else?

      How many WH tour leaders could have avoided unemployment if it weren’t for Biden’s sightseeing on our dime?

    • nj_v2

      Haha!

      I’m sure you were complaining equally at Shrub’s $20 million worth of flights back and forth to his ranch.

      All of a sudden, the conservobots are now so concerned about government spending.

      • WorriedfortheCountry

        Of course Bush was a spendthrift (especially in his last two years) and I criticized him for it.  He only had 13 vetoes.  I don’t think he ever vetoed the corrupt spending nonsense.

        However, Bush’s debt was ‘only’ $6T in 4 years.  Obama rang up $6T in 8 years and shows no sign of stopping.  My outrage is properly proportional.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

          Doesn’t matter what “you” said. You don’t statistically exist. You’re the one pure conservative who’s being used by the wastrel GOP.

          How? Easy: The media didn’t give a shit about spending until a Democrat got into the White House, making the media a safe space for horseshit “news” like the Weekly Standard to propagandize the above like it’s news.

    • hennorama

      The amounts you detailed are equal to about one-third of one cent per American.

      Clearly this “spending is completely out of control.”

      • Gregg Smith

        White House tours have been cancelled. I’ve seen cost estimates ranging from $18,000 to $74,000 per week. That means the tours could have remained open for all those kids for 14 to 58 weeks. But no.

        Now there is talk of canceling the Easter Egg hunt but they partied hard for St. Patricks Day. What does this administration have against children?

    • Duras

      Does this come from the same source where it was thought that Obama was touring Asia on a billion dollars a day or something?  Remember that one?  That was hilarious.  Rule of thumb: people who think they are impervious to propaganda are the most propagandized.  Do you think that may apply to you?

      Why don’t you try real criticism like the one I wrote about Bush above?  Something that has substance and comes for empirical-based news sources. 

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        It comes from a Weekly Standard blog. And I’m sure the WS was full of the same stuff during the regime of Bush II.

        I mean, really, what more needs to be said than “Weekly Standard blog”?

  • notepop

    This dance your guests were doing re: the Iraq war and how it began is baloney.  They LIED!  Plain and simple. They lied and should be held accountable for the deaths on both sides.  Bush and Cheney should be tried and executed! 

    • Gregg Smith

      Geez.

    • Gordon Green

      If you look back and the Nuremberg trials, the indictments were for some of the exact same alleged behaviors.  It’s interesting to read about them in light of the Iraq war, Crimes Against Peace being the most obvious parallel, but War Crimes are certainly not out of the question.  This all really belongs in the hands of a prosecutor and a court, not for lay people to argue about pointlessly.  From Wikipedia:

      - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – -
      “The [Nuremberg] indictments were for:

      Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of a crime against peace

      Planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression and other crimes against peace

      War crimes

      Crimes against humanity”
      - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – -

      Links were removed – best to refer to the original article:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuremberg_Trials

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_against_peace

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_of_aggression

    • harverdphd

       Sucks to be you

    • JONBOSTON

      Classic case of Bush derangement syndrome…

  • marygrav

    Thank God for Youtube and the google.com for letting US travel back in history.  Peter Beinart understands and writes about why the Iran threat is only a sham.  It is because of the social discontent that is going on in Israel due to “cut-throat” capitalism.  Netanyahu and the elites needed a diversion, and Iran is the perfect foil.

    I am not talking about the Israeli people.  They are just victims in a power play.  This is why Obama addressed the people and not the Kinnet.   It is no use addressing them, it would be like addressing the House of Representatives here in the US.  They both share the same ideology of intransigence.

    Netanyahu wants it both ways.  He wants to paint Israel as a helpless victim, while victimizing the Palestinians.  Americans always side with the underdog and each time we side with Israel, its leadership always proves that it has neither respect for US, peace or a Two State Solution.

    Every excuse is given for every Israeli Prime Minister to disrupt the Peace Process.  I say forget it because the US has its own troubles and Israel has its own WMD.  Maybe its time for them to use them, since they are a soveregn state.

    • hennorama

      marygrav – while I think you have generally accurately characterized much of the past, there are some new factors to consider.

      1.  Netanyahu was weakened by the most recent Israeli elections.  His party (Likud) got only 32 seats, a loss of 9 seats, and the PM needed additional time to cobble together a coalition government, which was just seated this week.

      2.  A significant part of Netanyahu’s coalition are members of the brand-new centrist party, Yesh Atid (formed only last year).  Yesh Atid came in second in the recent elections, with 19 seats.  It’s platform calls for an outline of “two states for two peoples”.  This makes the “two state solution” more likely.

      One also needs to keep some perspective.  Israeli Prime Ministers need to have a “security first” mindset.  Here’s why:

      The compressed geography of Israel, the Gaza Strip and other locations in the Middle East are very different from the vastness of the United States.  The distances involved are quite small.  Rockets need travel only 50 miles (or less) from Gaza to reach Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.  Realizing this, one can more easily understand how living under such threats would be unacceptable to most Israelis.

      To put this in perspective, imagine if people in Baltimore were openly hostile to the residents of Washington, DC.  These cities are also less than 50 miles apart.  So are Miami and Ft. Lauderdale; Los Angeles and Riverside; San Diego and Tijuana;  San Francisco and San Jose … you get the idea.

      This site might give you more perspective about how small this area is:

      http://www.factsofisrael.com/maps2.html

  • TomK_in_Boston

    Congrats to Harverd basketball!

  • Gregg Smith

    3.2 million jobs are threatened with Obamacare. That’ll help.

    http://washingtonexaminer.com/article/2525125#.UUxKk9un9uc.twitter

    • jefe68

      The level of ineptitude in how people parse the health care costs in this country is astounding.

      Here you have some business saying that the cost of health care is going to hurt their bottom line. 
      And yet it already is. People without insurance go to emergency rooms. Or they just do without. 
      We all, that means you Gregg, we all are paying for this.

      I’m not a fan of the ACA (Obamacare) but unless we as a nation deal with the cost, and cost is the issue, this problem is going grow, and grow, and grow.

      You know what will help? If people would just grow up a little and deal with the reality of that our market based system is broken. That we need to rebuild the system from the ground up. If you think what we had before was just dandy then you’re living in a world of delusions. 

      • Gregg Smith

        It’s unworkable, too expensive and will cause heartache as quality of care goes down. It’s killing the economy.

        • jefe68

          The cost of health care is killing the economy. ACA or not that situation will still be there. That’s my point!

          • Gregg Smith

            No it’s not, you can’t make that case. I’m not defending the status quo BTW. But Obamacare IS killing jobs.

      • harverdphd

         Obama never looked at the cost nor questioned the cost of healthcare…too many democrat doctors maybe?

        • jefe68

          That’s my point. He was in the pockets of the insurance corporations, the large non-profit health care corporations, (which are growing) and big pharma. The doctors are losing ground and do not have as much power as a lobby anymore.  

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

          Hey, if you want to be taken seriously, stop using “Democrat” as an adjective. My “Jew lawyer” friend doesn’t much care for that practice of using nouns as adjectives.

    • hennorama

      Gregg Smith -

      What is your standard for research studies?  Would you consider a research study to be unbiased, regardless of the topic, if the study was:

      1.  Paid for by a party whose mission is to protect, enhance and promote the industry being studied

      2.  Based on information provided by the party who paid for the study

      Would you consider citation of an article based on a research study that conformed to the above two criteria to be part of what you describe as “open honest debate”?

      Just curious.

    • WorriedfortheCountry

       Obamacare is starting to collapse under it’s own weight.  Even the NYTimes had a big piece yesterday about the escalating ‘insurance’ costs. 

      The only question will those who foist this terrible law onto us pay a political price and will it be repeal before it does too much additional damage.

    • hennorama

      A man sees a figure standing on a railroad track.

      “What are you doing?” the man asks.

      “Waiting for a train.” says the figure.

      “Oh I see.  Have you been waiting long?”

      “Three years” says the figure on the track.

      “What have you been doing all this time?”

      “Well … we’ve had teams working to dismantle the train and the track, while the train’s moving forward.  They’ve tried and failed 36 times so far” said the track transient.

      “Huh.  You’d think you might have stopped trying that strategy after, say … 20 or 30 times, but whatever.  Anything else?”

      “Oh yeah – I almost forgot.  We had a huge team working to derail the train a while back.  That failed too, when the guy we were counting on turned against us and said the train had a legal right to be there.  We hate that guy now, let me tell ya.  That was about nine months ago and I’ve been trying to forget it.”

      “I see.  So the train’s definitely coming then?” asked the man.

      “It’s scheduled to be here a little over eight months from now” the figure on the track replied.

      “What are you going to do when it gets here?”

      “Oh it’s not going to actually get here” the figure says  “We have a great team yelling at the train as it goes by, trying to get the conductor to apply the brakes.”

      “They’re just yelling at the train?  What are they yelling?” asked the man.

      “Oh … well we gave some people a bunch of information to ‘study’ wink-wink, then to give it back to us.  Now our team is using the ‘study data’ to yell at the train.  We figure if we pay somebody to ‘study’ our information and then pay our people to yell at the train, they’re more believable” said the figure.

      “Wow.  That doesn’t seem very workable to me.  What if your ‘yell team’ fails?” the man asked.

      “Wait … did I tell you the people who ‘studied’ our information work under Scooter Libby?  He was convicted of four felonies including obstruction of justice, perjury, and making false statements, and was disbarred, remember?  That’s makes them more believable don’t you think?”

      “Besides it’s no problem.  We have David Copperfield on standby.  He made that train car disappear – remember?” said the figure, with a perfectly straight face.

      The man backs out of earshot of the figure, takes out his phone and presses three numbers.

      “Hello 911?  Yeah, there’s this person standing on the railroad track. We were talking a bit and I think you might want to have someone check on him to be sure he’s not a danger to himself.  He says he’s been there for three years, waiting for a train, and that he has a team yelling at it trying to make it stop …… What? …  Yeah, that’s what he said. …. OK I’ll stick around until the guys with the white coats get here ….”

      • Gregg Smith

        I stepped up on the platform
        The man gave me the news
        He said, You must be joking son
        Where did you get those shoes?

        • hennorama

          The man takes out his phone then dials the same three numbers.

          “Hello, 911? Yeah it’s me again. You might want to send a bigger crew …. now some other guy’s standing there too, reciting Steely Dan lyrics. … What song? … Um …hold on a sec …Dude, what’s that you’re reciting? …. 911? – the new guy says his name is Gregg Smith the Pretzel Logic Man. … OK. Yeah I’ll wait but hurry willya?”

          • Gregg Smith

            I’m dying to be a star and make them laugh.

          • brettearle

            You show him your train pass
            And ask, “Is this where it is?”;

            And someone shrugs and says, “Gee whiz,”;

            And you say, “What’s that?”
            And someone else says, “Is where, what is?”;

            And you say, “Oh my, could I yet be at God’s throne?”

            But something’s happening, here….
            And you don’t know what it is,

            Do you Casey Jones?

          • hennorama

            You find the pencil necked geek
            But he’s not the freak you seek
            The barker yells “See the sword swallower!”
            But you’re the leader not a follower
            Off you go to find something,
            Anything happening here

            You don’t know what it is
            You feel it in your bones
            You feel it in your bones
            Don’t you, Sister Jones?

          • brettearle

            You step up to the blocks, insured by  Brit’s Lloyd’s;

            You’ve got a leg up, cause you’ve taken in `roids….  

            For the one hundred sprint….,
            You’re very Well-Known!

            But somethin’s happenin’ here, and you DO know what it is…..

            ….Don’t you,
            Mari-on
            Jo-o-o-nes?

  • Gregg Smith

    “Six in 10 physicians (62 percent) said it is likely many of their colleagues will retire earlier than planned in the next 1 to 3 years”

    Terrific.

    http://www.everydayhealth.com/senior-health/more-docs-plan-to-retire-early.aspx

    • jimino

      They must have made a lot of money.  Only a tiny number of people have that option available to them because their not entirely happy with their job.  I guess whatever oath they take about having some higher role in society doesn’t cover that issue.

      • harverdphd

         You’re right…it’s not a bad guess

    • hennorama

      “Most U.S. physicians believe that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a good start to addressing issues of access and cost.”

      Terrific!

      From the ACTUAL Deloitte 2013 Survey of U.S. Physicians, (not from an article based on ANOTHER article based on the Survey) – the very first point of the Executive Summary:

      “Based on the results of the Deloitte 2013 Survey of U.S.Physicians,* most U.S. physicians are concerned about thefuture of the profession and consider many changes in themarket to be a threat. Most believe that…
      • The performance of the U.S. health care system issuboptimal, but the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is agood start to addressing issues of access and cost.”

      http://www.deloitte.com/assets/Dcom-UnitedStates/Local%20Assets/Documents/us_chs_2013SurveyofUSPhysicians_031813.pdf

      Now, can anyone explain why some physicians’ opinions on what “their colleagues” MIGHT do in the next one to three years matters?  Wouldn’t it be far more relevant to know what they THEMSELVES might do in the next one to three years, rather than their speculation about others?

  • Gregg Smith
  • nj_v2

    http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2004/01/11/bush_began_iraq_plan_pre_911_oneill_says/

    Bush began Iraq plan pre-9/11, O’Neill says
    WASHINGTON — President Bush and his senior aides began plotting the invasion of Iraq just days after he took office in January 2001 and not, as the administration has indicated, after terrorists struck against the United States eight months later, according to former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, who was forced from his post in December 2002.
    “The country deserves to know, and the president needs to answer, why the American people were presented with misleading or manufactured intelligence as to why going to war with Iraq was necessary,” Dean said. “Secretary O’Neill’s comments only underscore the continuing importance that these outstanding questions be answered.…

    …”From the very beginning, there was a conviction that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go,” O’Neill told the news program, according to excerpts released yesterday. “For me, the notion of preemption, that the US has the unilateral right to do whatever we decide to do, is a really huge leap.”…(excerpts)

    • TomK_in_Boston

      “The intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”—-Downing St memo

      Business as usual for the neocons and no surprise to me, but inconceivable to the brainwashed.

      • harverdphd

         your mind was made up, kipper

    • harverdphd

       Right, pinky…if it’s on the web, linklady, it must be true…time to string up Hillary and Kerry, too

      • hennorama

        “pinky”?  Is that some variation of the Archie Bunker “pinko” slur?

        Perhaps it’s something else, maybe along the lines of how the Bucky B. Katt character in the comic strip “Get Fuzzy” calls his owner Rob Wilco “pinkish”.

        Curious.

  • nj_v2

    http://crooksandliars.com/karoli/new-documents-show-bush-administration-plan

    September 24, 2010 08:00 AM
    New Documents Show Bush Administration Planned War in Iraq Well Before 9/11/2001

    All of us knew it but couldn’t prove it. Now we can prove it. Newly declassified documents published at the National Security Archive prove beyond all reasonable doubt that the Bush administration planned to topple Saddam Hussein and invade Iraq as early as January, 2001, and were making strategic plans and resource allocations as early as November, 2001.

    January 30, 2001 – Bush administration principals (agency heads) meet for the first time and discuss the Middle East, including Bush’s intention to disengage from the Israel-Palestine peace process and “How Iraq is destabilizing the region.” Bush directs Rumsfeld and JCS chairman Hugh Shelton to examine military options for Iraq; CIA director George Tenet is directed to improve intelligence on the country. Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill and counterterrorism coordinator Richard Clarke are both struck by the emphasis on confronting Iraq, an aim consistent with Rumsfeld’s hiring of Wolfowitz and later Feith, well known for their bellicosity on the issue, for high-level Pentagon
    positions. (Source: EBB/Franks Timeline (PDF))

    (snipped)

    • harverdphd

       Goin’ nowhere, pinky…”we were only following orders” dems voted for the war

    • Gregg Smith

      Duh! Clinton’s H.R. 4655 wasn’t chopped liver. Think bigger.

  • Dee

    Obama should have kicked Israeli asses not pat their backs..
    I don’t know why Obama went to Israel to pat Israeli leaders on the backs when he should have been kicking their asses out of the Palestinian Territories and back to the 1967 Green Line as a 14 Justice panel at the Hague ruled unanimously in 2004….So I wonder what was Obama waiting for when this is what many Americans and Israelis of conscience want (see URL below and an Israeli soldier refusing to serve) -Still, I appreciate the caller Elaine who pointed out the restrictions and suffering of the Palestinian people. Yet,I wonder why Elaine and others seem to lose sight of the fact, Palestine is the Palestinian peoples’ homeland and it will never be the Jewish people Homeland… Before 1948 most jews didn’t own a path of land and continue to be an alien population in Palestine. Thus how can anyone claim they have ”a right to exist” especially beyond the 1947 Partition line. This contin-ues to be absolute Zionist nonsense and how stupid of US officials to agrees to stand with Israeli leaders on such lawlessness.  It’s insane….And it was something a 14 justice panel in the Hague didn’t accept either in ’04 and called upon Israeli officials to withdraw their troops to the 1967 Green Line (although it should have been the 1947 partition line ) and disman-tled and void all Israeli structures in the Palestinian territ-ories. This is what Obama should have told Israeli leadersalso or risk losing US support to remain in the Middle East. Thus Israel is not only on the wrong side of the law buthistory itself today. In addition, there is no need for a Jewish state in today’s human rights world. Certainly, not as the cost of dispossessing the Palestinian people from their land and their communities. So Obama should have kicked Israeli assess not pat their backs. (I was very disappointed in him.) Dee This land was theirs…Hannah Mermelsteinhttp://electronicintifada.net/content/land-was-theirs/7477Here is an eye witness account on the events of 1948http://archive.org/details/Salman_Abu_SittaAn Israeli soldier who refused to serve in Israeli Armyhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTAvst5mxW4

  • Gregg Smith

    “Health insurers are privately warning brokers that premiums for many individuals and small businesses could increase sharply next year because of the health-care overhaul law, with the nation’s biggest firm projecting that rates could more than double for some consumers buying their own plans.”

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324557804578374761054496682.html

    This is a surprise to the gullible but no one else. There was no way prices could go down, as promised. I think those who call Obama a right-winger because he didn’t get single payer are delusional. He said he wanted it. He had to bribe, cheat and lie to get what he got. It didn’t matter what it was, only that he got the progressive process started by any means necessary. He got it passed. He intimidated John Roberts to get it through the SCOTUS. He created the “war on contraception” to reconcile the infringement on religious freedom. All the while the rolling stone is gathering moss. One step at a time. Now insurance cost will make it too expensive to  buy. The fine is easier. The “keep you doctor” meme was a lie. You libs thinking Obama is not progressive enough are getting just what you want, be patient. America will be ruined soon enough.

    • jefe68

      No, the gullible are those who think that our system is fine. That the market will prevail. 
      Funny how the insurance industry lobbied for the Heritage Foundations, and GOP’s, mandate for people to buy insurance. That they are poised to make a lot of money here and yet they keep raising premiums. 

      By the way, premiums have been going up at a huge rate before ACA was even in play. 

      What your comment speaks of is the cost of health care.
      It’s the cost. Do you not understand that?

      • Gregg Smith

        Who says the system is fine? The insurance companies will go out of business, they cannot possibly survive Obamacare. They have zip zero nada to gain. Premiums were not going up like this before Obamacare and Obama said they would go down. Yes, I understand it’s the cost of Obamacare that is at issue, we can’t afford it.

  • nanohistory

    The narcissism of US commentary on the result
    of our latest military adventure is startling. Nearly all the commentary of the
    last few days has been about how “I feel” or how Americans feel.
    Almost nothing about the fact that we caused the destruction of a country, its
    society, and much of its extraordinary culture heritage. We ripped apart yet
    another country and then we left.

     

    You would never know from
    listening to Iraq coverage this week that over 5 million Iraqis are dead,
    maimed or displaced because of our invasion. Or that they continue to suffer
    violence and fear daily, not to mention a shameful lack of basic services. One
    of your guests today (March 22, 2013) said some Americans went along with it because
    they were afraid to be labeled as peaceniks or leftists; you’d think we were
    living in Nazi Germany rather than the Land of the Free (and aren’t we supposed
    to be brave?). It’s almost incredible that all ethics and basic concern for the
    humanity of other peoples (non-European of course) can be tossed out the window
    because you’re afraid of what others might think of you.    

    • Tyranipocrit

       and we never mention the millions who were slaughtered prior to war II–in the 20 years prior–daily bombings, and sanctions that amounted to infanticide.  Americans are just plain dumb and cruel.

      • brettearle

        Look at how many US citizens deny the genocide, or partial genocide, that took place in the early years of our country–which allowed the Early Americans to settle, occupy, and prevail…in a most unjust way. 

        • Tyranipocrit

           and then celebrate it with a holiday patting each other on the back for the glorious massacre of millions.  A sick nation, a sick people, and really really dumb

    • brettearle

      The fact that an incredible number of people have lost their lives, as the result of the Iraq war and its aftermath, is, of course, an abomination.

      But where are you getting your statistics for `over 5 million’?

      One death, is one too many, for many, many wars.   That’s a given.

      Nevertheless, where are you getting your statistics?

      The catastrophic measure of the loss of Blood (and Treasure) can still be weighed in numbers.

      We don’t need nor want revisionist History–of which, for example, Ahmadinejad might be guilty, when he espouses, what is likely, malicious propaganda about the Holocaust.

      So the issue to me, is….

      Do we build-up a casualty number or mark down a casualty number–based on political beliefs?

      That’s why I ask the question, regarding the source of your information.

      • Steve__T

        I had to check it out myself, I agree with nanohistory’s post in the whole but your question on statistics gave me pause. I found that you are correct to question the numbers.

        http://www.iraqbodycount.org/analysis/numbers/warlogs/http:

        //www.iraqbodycount.org/http:

        //www.iraqbodycount.org/

        For some reason Disqus broke the links

        I had to get another

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq_War_death_toll

        • brettearle

          Thanks for checking it out.

          Your research adds to the quality of the Discourse.

      • nanohistory

        Various sources give the figure of displaced, internally and
         externally as 4.5-5 million.

        Here’s one from an About.com site: 

        Iraqis Displaced Inside Iraq, by Iraq War, as of May 2007 – 2,255,000

        Iraqi Refugees in Syria & Jordan – 2.1 million to 2.25 million

        http://usliberals.about.com/od/homelandsecurit1/a/IraqNumbers.htm

         

        What is sometimes not taken into account when trying to tally the
        dead is the number of Iraqis who might have died through not being able to get
        medical care because of the danger of moving through the streets. The above
        site cites one estimated total of 600,000 and even years ago others concluded
        the total dead could be well over 1 million (for all the reasons people die
        during such a war). One reason it has been difficult to get exact figures is
        because not everyone went to a hospital or morgue or were reported dead, and
        therefore were not tallied by organizations trying to keep count — Iraq Body
        Count, for example, gives the figure (from 2003-2011) as 117,018, but this is
        the verifiable number.

        http://www.iraqbodycount.org/analysis/numbers/2011/

        It doesn’t (and presumably couldn’t) track all the Iraqis who died
        from lack of medicine, maternity care, or other medical neglect. And
        many people are still missing.

         

        As for the injured, permanently maimed and traumatized, presumably
        the figure is many times the number of dead, as with our military. 

        • brettearle

          Thanks for taking the time to offer this additional information.

          I will try to find the time to look into your references.

      • nanohistory

        This is information on the Lancet study of Iraq casualties to 2006. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lancet_surveys_of_Iraq_War_casualties

  • Duras

    This week CBS Evening News and PBS News Hour reported that Iraq end up costing $2.2 Trillion.  That is a trillion more than what American discourse previously thought. 

    Both news sources also reported that the Iraq War (“Operation Freedom” or something in that vein) could have been adverted if Bush had decided to bomb a bunker where Intelligence said there is an “70%” chance Saddam would be.  Intelligence recommended the bombing and also told Bush that there was only a 3 hour window to do it.  Instead, Bush decided to give Saddam one of his ultimatums and allotted him 48 hours to decide.  Obviously, Saddam didn’t give himself up and Bush decided to bomb the bunker days after the 3 hour window closed. 

    When we captured Saddam, Intelligence interviewed him and he said that he was indeed at the location at that “3 hour window” but was long gone by the time the bombs fell. 

    For someone who titled his book, “Decision Points,” where there is a picture of him on the cover walking cocksure on the White House veranda–every month that goes by since his presidency, George W. Bush looks increasingly like a blundering idiot.

  • Gregg Smith

    “A pair of teenagers [sic] was arrested Friday and accused of fatally shooting a 13-month-old baby in the face and wounding his mother during their morning stroll through a leafy, historic neighborhood.”

    http://newsone.com/2299421/demarquis-elkins-sherry-west-brunswick-georgia/

    And why isn’t the president weighing in? Why isn’t On Point doing a show? Why isn’t NBC editing audio to suggest racism? Why is no one assuming the shooter was racist? The innocent baby was not slamming the shooter’s head into the pavement, this is orders of magnitude worse than the Trayvon Martin case. Where’s the outrage?

    • jimino

      I was going to reply by contrasting the fact that this story is national news (it’s in the Omaha morning paper) within 24 hours instead of the several weeks in the Trayvon Martin case, that it hasn’t been raised at a presidential press conference yet, and the the “Black America” news site which you cite clearly identifies it as a horrendous crime by Black youth, but instead I will say that I genuinely am concerned about your increasingly irrational comments on this site. 

      As you once inquired of the President, have you been drinking this morning?

      • Gregg Smith

        It happened Thursday morning.

        Don’t worry about me, I’m fine. And I’ve never inquired of the President, have you been drinking this morning? I suggested he was passed out drunk the night of Benghazi, maybe that’s what you mean. We still don’t know where he was and passed out drunk is the kindest option.

        Do you think the press will ask Obama about it? Do you think On Point will do a show? Will anybody suggest a race angle?

        When a black guy kills a white kid it gets a collective yawn that is only rivaled when a black kills a black.

      • Gregg Smith

        After reading the other response to my comment I should give you a little credit. You at least raised some good points before the commentary about me… and you kept it to a sentence.

    • hennorama

      Gregg “That’s sick” Smith pretzel logic Part 4 (or is it 5? or 6? – frankly I’ve lost count) – Smith’s continued inability to meet the standards he sets for others:

      A bit over a month ago, Smith posted:

      “What’s sick is invoking racism in lieu of logic. Sick, sick, sick.”

      http://onpoint.wbur.org/2013/02/19/sequestration#comment-805675619

      Here’s what Smith says about his repeated “That’s sick.” comment:

      “It’s not anytime those things are brought up, it’s when the race card is played out of the blue.”

      http://onpoint.wbur.org/2013/01/18/week-in-the-news-obama-on-guns-algeria-hostages-dreamliner-grounded#comment-773305677

      About a week ago, Smith was involved in this exchange:

      [Bruce94] CPAC, Tea-Party Republicans and the College of Cardinals:  all examples of the dominance of white, male privilege and powerful elites in parts of our political and religious life.

      [Smith]  That’s sick.

      A couple of weeks ago, Smith typed this:
      “Absolutely I am indifferent to race. I don’t care a wit about anyone’s skin color. I don’t expect anything less from anyone because of their color.”

      http://onpoint.wbur.org/2013/03/06/voting-rights#comment-821236012

      And Smith asked this of another poster:

      “Why are you so invested in seeing racism?”

      http://onpoint.wbur.org/2013/03/06/voting-rights#comment-821249036

      Then today Smith says these two things:

      “Why isn’t NBC editing audio to suggest racism? Why is no one assuming the shooter was racist? ”

      And (see below)

      “When a black guy kills a white kid it gets a collective yawn that is only rivaled when a black kills a black.”

      Good old “Do as I say not as I do” Gregg “That’s sick” Smith.

      • Gregg Smith

        Are you talking to me? I can’t tell, it is a reply. It’s cool. You just feel free to chime in anytime. My thread is your thread.

        I’m not invoking racism, no one is. That’s the point. It went right over your head. But thanks for posting some most excellent quotes. They go along way to make my point. I encourage anyone who cares (no one does) to click your gracious links and read the context and note the difference with this case. You are a great resource, thanks again.

        P.S. – I would love to tour the Southland in a traveling minstrel show.

        • hennorama

          Gregg Smith doing a Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle “You talkin’ to me?” impression. Curious.

          Smith: “I’m not invoking racism, no one is.”

          Riiiiiiiight. No one is invoking racism, no one EXCEPT Smith that is, who typed:

          “Why isn’t NBC editing audio to suggest racism? Why is no one assuming the shooter was racist?”

          One can only suppose Smith has been around horse manure so long he can no longer recognize it when it flows from his keyboard.

          • Gregg Smith

            Those are legitimate questions. There is a huge double standard. I am noting the lack of invoking racism when the dynamics are inverted. How about condemning the practices of NBC and others who invoke racism where it doesn’t exist? Is that too much to expect? 

      • Gregg Smith

        Allow me to help you. It seems to me you are all to pieces because I called you out for projecting an irrational quote to President Bush purely on the word of a terrorist. It was enough to make you reply even if it was not to me directly. Ever since you’ve been trying to prove something or another. Get over it, you were dishonest or google bit. Admit it and move on.

    • Fredlinskip

      Here comes “infotainment” section of the program again- 
      “Tales from the Dark Over-The-Edge Far Right Side”

    • hennorama

      Gregg Smith – are you the sole arbiter of everything?

      You appear to think you are the sole arbiter of:

      “open and honest debate”

      “honesty”

      “dishonesty”

      “racism”

      Since you haven’t laid out what your standards are on these topics, I have a few related questions.  You may consider or characterize these questions as “homework”.  Regardless of how you characterize these questions, the following are not rhetorical:

      1.  Is a poster responsible for the accuracy, factual basis and “honesty” of every word of every source quoted and/or cited?

      2.  Would you consider a research study to be unbiased, regardless of the topic, if the study was:
      A.  Paid for by a party whose mission is to protect, enhance and promote the industry being studied

      B.  Based on information provided by the party who paid for the study?

      3.  Would you consider citation of an article based on a research study that conformed to the above two criteria to be part of what you describe as “open honest debate”?

      4.  Is accurate quotation of an article, and including a link to said article in the same post “…incredibly dishonest” and/or “…willingly sid[ing] with … someone ….” who was quoted?

      5.  Are posters who post an accurate quote, and a link to said accurate quote, required to also include a counterquote?  If they do not, are they “dishonest”?

      6.  If a poster is unaware of any counterquote or counter evidence, is it possible for the poster to be “dishonest”?

      7.  If a Presidential spokesperson denies something, does make that denial automatically true?

      8.  Is quoting a Presidential spokesperson denying something the same thing as quoting a President denying something?

      9.  If you ask for a quote, and then none is forthcoming, is that evidence that everyone else is wrong?

      10.  If you are asked for a direct quote and are unable to find one, is quoting someone else the same thing, and just as good and/or honest?

      11.  Is a writer responsible for a reader’s vocabulary deficiencies?

      12.  Is not responding to a comment the same as not refuting said comment?

      13.  If your significant other tells someone “Any comments you make to me are unwelcome. Please stop.” and then the person continues to make unsolicited comments to your significant other, would this be perfectly OK with you?

      14.  When someone types “I don’t care what you think ..” and/or “no one cares what you think” more than once, and subsequently makes direct comments to “you” an average of once per day over multiple months, is “someone” being honest?

      15.  Is using the words “racism” and “racist” in an original post, followed up by a another original post that describes two hypothetical murders thusly -  “a black guy kills a white kid” and “a black kills a black” – considered “not invoking racism”?

      I look forward to your “honest” responses.

      • Gregg Smith

        I am the arbiter of nothing, it’s not my blog. My only standard is to be honest and as civil as possible.

        • hennorama

          Gregg Smith – thank you for your brave non-responsive non-answer to 15 specific questions.

          Your “openness” and “honesty” are notable.

          In an effort to ensure clarity and common terminology, does your definition of being “honest” include ducking direct questions?

          I look forward to your “honest” response.

          • Gregg Smith

            And thank you for illustrating why I didn’t and won’t answer your questions. Answering questions built on false premises and emotional revisionism accepts those premises and gives them credence. But I did answer the first one.

            I’m truly sorry you spent so much time and regarding your latest question above, I would refer you to your own #12. I certainly don’t need to answer your questions on your terms to be honest. I’ll also note, not only did you not answer the questions I posed in this thread (and often times you don’t) you didn’t even comment on the issue. Wasn’t it you who accused me of butting in with irrelevancy? Your last several replies are all long personal digs at me, they are all about me. It’s not about me. Think what you want of me, I don’t care.

          • Gregg Smith

            I am going to elaborate slightly. As I said below I answered your first question, “Gregg Smith – are you the sole arbiter of everything?”

            All of your questions were built on the premise that I think I’m the sole arbiter of these things. By answering any of them I accept that premise but I am the arbiter of nothing. See?

            The questions are more of the same. I don’t accept the premise that replying to you means I care what you think. I don’t accept the premise that I misread your comments (vocabulary deficiencies). Those are a couple of examples of emotional revisionism.

          • hennorama

            Gregg Smith – I appreciate you taking the time to respond.

            Let me see if I understand you correctly – you aren’t answering 15 direct questions because:

            A.  You are concerned that if you answer it means that you are accepting what you describe as “the premise that I [Gregg Smith] think I’m the sole arbiter of these things”

            B.  The “questions [are] built on false premises and emotional revisionism” and if you answer them you are accepting what you describe?

            C.  Someone else (hennorama) has not answered some of your questions

            Fine.

            Let’s throw out what you described above.  For the sake of argument, pretend none of that exists.  Ignore the quotation marks in the 15 questions, and the “sole arbiter” preposition, and the fact that someone may not have answered some of your questions.

            Please allow me to rephrase:

            1.  Is a poster responsible for the accuracy, factual basis and honesty of every word of every source quoted and/or cited?

            2.  Would you consider a research study to be unbiased, regardless of the topic, if the study was:
            A.  Paid for by a party whose mission is to protect, enhance and promote the industry being studied

            B.  Based on information provided by the party who paid for the study?

            3.  Would you consider citation of an article based on a research study that conformed to the above two criteria to be part of open honest debate?

            4.  Would you consider an accurate quotation of an article, and the inclusion of a link to said article in the same post, to be either  ‘incredibly dishonest’ or ‘willingly siding with’ the person who was quoted in the article?

            5.  Are posters who post an accurate quote, and a link to said accurate quote, required to also include a counterquote?  If they do not, are they being dishonest?

            6.  If a poster is unaware of any counterquote or counter evidence, is it possible for the poster to be dishonest?

            7.  If a Presidential spokesperson denies something, does make that denial automatically true?

            8.  Is quoting a Presidential (or other) spokesperson denying something the same thing as quoting a President (or other individual for who the spokesperson is speaking) denying something?

            9.  If you ask everyone in a forum for a quote, and then none is forthcoming, is that evidence that everyone in the forum is wrong?

            10.  If you are asked for a direct quote and are unable to find one, is quoting someone else the same thing, and just as good and/or honest as a direct quote?

            11.  Is a writer responsible for a reader’s vocabulary deficiencies?

            12.  Is not responding to a comment the same as not refuting said comment?

            13.  If your significant other tells someone “Any comments you make to me are unwelcome. Please stop.” and then the person continues to make unsolicited comments to your significant other, would this be perfectly OK with you?

            14.  When someone types “I don’t care what you think ..” and/or “no one cares what you think” more than once, and subsequently makes direct comments to “you” an average of once per day over multiple months, is “someone” being honest?

            15.  Is using the words “racism” and “racist” in an original post, followed up by a another original post that describes two hypothetical murders thusly -  “a black guy kills a white kid” and “a black kills a black” – considered to be ‘invoking racism’ or ‘not invoking racism’?  Or is it something else altogether?

            I look forward to your response(s) to the above.

          • Gregg Smith

            Sorry, I’m done. I suspect the collective blog is sick of us and I see no purpose. I’ve been as clear as I can be. Conclude as you will.

          • hennorama

            Gregg Smith – Thank you for taking the time to not answer, and for being brave enough to not answer after your objections have been removed.

          • Gregg Smith

            You’re welcome.

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    Congratulations to the US Senate!  Just before 5am today they passed their first budget in 4 years. It is a POS budget that never balances but at least they passed one.

  • Bill_GKD

    Not that there’s probably much reason to believe the dude, but the lawyer representing the supposed prostitutes in the Menendez imbroglio says that someone claiming to be from the Daily Caller paid him to dig up some women to say that they’d had sex with him for money.  I bet those touting this story when it originally broke are just falling all over themselves covering how things have come unraveled.

  • Steve_in_Vermont

    Obama is not a leader and never has been. He is a “manager” and we can question how effective he is in that position. But then we can also say it’s been a long time in this country since we last saw real leadership from anyone in Washington.

    • 228929292AABBB

      Agreed.  Every story in the news this week and on this show has two things in common – President Obama moved us with brave words, President Obama has not done anything he said.

    • WorriedfortheCountry

       What has Obama actually ‘managed’?  He is a constant campaigner and he is a master at picking tactical political fights.  IMHO he is neither a manager or leader.

    • JONBOSTON

      Agreed. Great presidents lead rather than follow the herd.  They do not look for excuses or people to blame. They do not impugn the motives of those they disagree with, rather they seek to change minds, find common ground and compromise. And they don’t finally reach out to opponents only after polls and supporters  ( Bill Keller of NYT, WaPo, etc) begin to question his leadership. Obama confuses speeches filled with platitudes and empty bromides as exhibiting leadership. It does not. Witness his state of the union speech. Divisive, highly partisan, meat for the ” …ask what the country can do for you” crowd. Nothing for the 49% of the country that did not vote for Obama. It contained the same old straw men combined with his holier-than-thou tone of voice. The only constants were his unshakable self-regard, his impenetrable leftist bubble, his total lack of graciousness , and his unforgivable mendacity. Is it any wonder that no one remembers anything he has to say 3 weeks after giving a speech….

      • Steve_in_Vermont

        You said this better than I was able to. Obama is who he is and he’s not about to change. My wife and I, and many of our friends, voted for him not because we thought he was a good candidate but because of a terrible alternative. He seems to believe the country gave him a mandate to govern as he is. Wrong. He won by default. Had the Republicans nominated a good candidate (Jon Huntsman?), marginalized the nutjobs, and run a good campaign, the outcome would have been different. Obama doesn’t seem to realize this.

        • JONBOSTON

          Obama never campaigned by outlining the policies and programs he would emphasize during his second term. Rather all he did was demonize Romney and offer freebies to various favored voting groups. Young women–free contraceptives. Latinos–his version of the Dream act and relaxed border enforcement. Students –promises regarding wite-off of student debt. The so-called 99%–soak the 1%. Environmental groups –more Solyndra deals and no Keystone XL pipeline. I can’t think of a single program that he advocated that would grow the economy and lower unemployment other than more wasteful “stimulus”. 
              Frankly, although so many on this board go beserk if you mention George Bush, the fact is on two occasions he demonstrated presidential leadership.[And exhibiting leadership does not mean you have to necessarily agree with the decision made by  the president]. First after 9/11 and then , in the face of widespread opposition from Washington elites, when he ordered the surge in Iraq.

    • Fredlinskip

      Obama’s best chance at leadership is to use Bully Pulpit and continue to take his message, unfiltered by media conglomerates, directly to the people.
      If he presided over a GOP congress who actually wished to “compromise” with Dems to move country forward, his leadership in this area would be more relevant. In first term, every time he “reached out” to GOP he got his hand smacked. Perhaps now that the principle motivation of GOP is no longer to make him “one term Prez”, perhaps we might move beyond the rhetoric?
      Kinda hope so.

  • OnPointComments

    I predict a brouhaha, and justifiably so, during the senate confirmation of Thomas Perez to be Labor Secretary.  Perez is an Assistant AG and manages the DOJ Civil Rights Division. The CRD is the subject of an unflattering report from the DOJ Inspector General 
    (http://www.justice.gov/oig/reports/2013/s1303.pdf

    about dysfunction in the agency, and the prevailing belief in the agency that laws should not be enforced in a race-neutral manner.  Former DOJ Voting Section Chief Christopher Coates responded to the report:
     
    “As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted by the Obama administration in 2009, the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ was not enforcing the voting laws in a race-neutral manner, contrary to the Constitutional guarantees of equal protection. That pattern of racially selective enforcement of the voting laws must stop. I hope that the IG report facilitates that needed reform.”
     
    Perez committed perjury before the US Commission on Civil Rights by swearing that there was no “political leadership involved in the decision not to pursue” a case against the Black Panthers; emails subsequently released under a Freedom of Information Act request proved his statement to be false.  Perez is a believer in the government’s “disparate impact” theory where racial statistics are the only thing that matters, whether in lending or hiring.  If a bank has a loan policy that requires a certain credit score and debt to income ratio, and less blacks qualify than whites, the statistics alone prove that the policy is racially discriminatory.  If more blacks than whites flunk an employment test (for example, as required by the New York Fire Department), the statistics alone prove that the test is racially discriminatory.  Perez was so afraid that a Minnesota case challenging disparate impact theory would make it to the Supreme Court that he agreed to drop a $180 million dollar False Claims Act case in exchange for the City of St. Paul dropping its challenge to disparate impact theory.
     
    Perez should fit right in with the Obama administration if confirmed.

    • Gregg Smith

      The black panthers case is a microcosm of the prevailing wisdom in this administration. Obama didn’t start it but he certainly kicked it up a notch or three. When Andrew Cuomo was head of HUD he actually used the phrase “affirmative action on the part of the banks” as a good thing.

      It’s a good thing Mr. Coates is a “former” voting section chief or there would likely be hell to pay. I don’t remember the details but I remember the last inspector general who blew the whistle (did his job) in a race based case and he was fired. I think his name is Walprin. It wasn’t enough to fire him, they went after his character (ala Hillary and Billy Dale) and made him out to be a dottering old fool.

      The notion that laws should not be enforced in a race-neutral manner is sick. Perez needs to be denied at all cost. Race has no place in any decision.

  • Gregg Smith

    Kudos to “This American Life” who did a very interesting piece on the explosion in numbers of people on disability. It’s completely out of control.

    http://apps.npr.org/unfit-for-work/

    • hennorama

      Oh my goodness!  The sky is falling!  The sky is falling!  This has never ever never ever never happened before!  It’s out of control!

      Some perspective, which I’ve pointed out before:

      “Between 1978 and 1993, the number of persons receiving disability benefits under either the Supplemental Security Income program or the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance program increased more than 43 percent-from 4.7 million to 6.7 million. In 1993, 4.08 percent of the U.S. resident population aged 18-64 were receiving a disability benefit under one or both of the programs, compared with 3.37 percent in 1978.”

      Source:http://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/ssb/v57n3/v57n3p27.pdf

      Repeating for emphasis – “In 1993, 4.08 percent of the U.S. resident population aged 18-64 were receiving a disability benefit under one or both of the programs”

      1993 – 4.08 percent

      2011 – 4.6 percent (“National Average” per the chart in the article Smith linked to).

      “It’s completely out of control.” says Gregg “Chicken Little” Smith.

      A few months ago, another poster discussed an “explosion” of disabled workers receiving Soc. Sec. Disability payments, to which I responded:

      “Here’s the “explosion” of disabled workers receiving Soc. Sec. Disability payments for three time periods:
      (source: http://www.ssa.gov/cgi-bin/currentpay.cgi )
      MONTH    # DISABLED   DIFFERENCE   % CHANGE

      Jan 2009    7,442,377        —                  —
      Sep 2012   8,786,049   1,343,672          18.05%

      Jan 2001    5,052,895        —                  —
      Sep 2004   6,128,722   1,075,827           21.29%

      Jan 2005   6,219,666        —                   —
      Sep 2008  7,299,821    1,080,155           17.37%

      Yep. That’s right, Pres. Bush II had similar “explosions” of disabled workers.

      Surprise!”

      See: http://onpoint.wbur.org/2012/10/05/week-in-the-news-216#comment-676623212

      UPDATED INFO: Disabled workers as of Feb 2013: 8,840,427, an increase of 54,378 (0.6%) since Sep 2012.

      And six months ago, in response to yet another poster who stated “Security Disability recipients are at a record level of over 8 million…”, I responded:

      “This phenomenon is not unique to these economic times.  It occurs when the length of time it takes people to find work becomes extended.  In other words, when people who are out of work have great difficult finding work.

      I’m not saying this is good or bad, just presenting info.

      As I’ve said before, the most worrisome aspect of the current job picture is the number of people who have been out of work for long periods.  Any efforts to increase employment should focus on these workers, as they are the most likely to NOT find work when hiring picks up, and therefore are the most likely to receive Federal support, whether it be housing, nutrition, cash assistance or disability.”

      See: http://onpoint.wbur.org/2012/09/18/romney-and-the-dependent-47#comment-655633503

      This was also pointed out in the article Smith linked to.

      • Gregg Smith

        I suggest you listen to the podcast of “This American Life”. It was a very good show. In the meantime which is also a groovy time:

        I did not mention politics, parties or Presidents.

        The correlation between unemployment proves wide spread fraud. 

        Obama’s failing economy is enough to make people sick but that doesn’t mean they are disabled.

        The relevance of the unemployment rate is it means fewer workers are paying for more peoples benefits.

        The number of people receiving disability is at an all time high.

        The advent of “Binder and Binder” as well as many others has changed the dynamic.

        There is no one representing the government in hearings and the lawyers get paid directly by taxpayers. It’s created a boon for trial lawyers who run the Democrat party. Ask Howard Dean.

        It’s creepy when you quote yourself as an authority.

        It sucks passion away.

        It’s out of control, don’t defend it. There are not that many sick people. It’s a problem.

        • JGC

          This is a good program; thanks for bringing it to our attention.  I skimmed the report and now I will give it a listen while I do the dishes.  

          • Gregg Smith

            That’s a hoot! I was doing dishes when I heard it. 

          • JGC

            And, everyone, this has nothing to do with Chana Joffe-Walt reporting there has been a 47% increase in claims for “dish pan hands” on American disability claims, really…

        • hennorama

          Gregg Smith – thank you for your response.

          Discussing your points in order:

          1. Your words imply an assumption that I had not heard the broadcast. Such assumption is erroneous, unsurprisingly. As you are full of suggestions, “I suggest” you make no further assumptions about me or my activities, as you are nearly always in error when you do.

          2. “Do you have a point?” I did not mention politics, parties or Presidents, either. I mentioned A President, singular, and neither of the other items in your list.

          3. “The correlation between unemployment proves” absolutely nothing. It certainly does not “[prove] wide spread [sic] fraud.” If you care to, please demonstrate the veracity of your contention. That would be entertaining, no doubt.

          4. Please define what you describe as “Obama’s failing economy.” Keep in mind the following Federal Reserve Economic Data:

          During the Obama administration:

          Real GDP (in constant 2005 dollars) is up from $12.7110 T (Q1 2009) to the most recent figure of $ 13.6568 T (Q4 2012)

          Civilian Unemployment rate is down from its peak of 10.0% (2009-10-01) to the most recent figure of 7.7% (2013-02-01)

          U6 unemployment rate is down from its peak of 17.1% (2009-10-01) to the most recent figure of 14.3% (2013-02-01)

          Nonfarm employment up from a low of 129.320 M (2010-02-01) to the most recent figure of 135.046 M (2013-02-01)

          5. “… fewer workers are paying for more people’s benefits.” Wrong. See above for the INCREASED number of workers.

          6. Again, “Do you have a point?” The number of people in the US is at an all-time high. The number of iPhones is at an all-time high. The number of comments made by Gregg Smith is at an all-time high. The number of nonfarm workers is 97.8% of an all-time high.

          So.What.

          7. Oh no. A private business advertising their products and services? When will this horror end? What’s wrong with private business all of a sudden?

          Do you feel the same way about “The advent of ["The Scooter Store" and "Liberty Medical"] as well as many others”?

          8. If you don’t like the system, work to change it. Are you claiming some illegality in the way potential beneficiaries are represented and the way “the lawyers” are paid?

          Your mention of Howard Dean and “the Democrat party” shows that you may have some political bias on this topic, sir. Do you believe that all “trial lawyers” are Democrats? If so, please provide some evidence.

          9. Opinion plus opinion about oversight. Weak. Is there ever any particular time period when “sufficient oversight” is ever needed less, or do “we need it most” only right now?

          10. Correction: “Once [SOME/MOST] people are on disability they never work again… legally.”

          Sorry for your ignorance of the facts, but it is actually perfectly legal and possible to work occasionally or less than full time and still receive Social Security disability benefits. Many disabled people also find that their condition prevents them from working for extended periods, yet they are able to work when their condition is less severe. One good example of this situation are people with mental health issues, such as bipolar disorder.

          There also are are instances where people return to work full-time or close to full-time in an effort to test their ability to return to work. Social Security allows this as well, while receiving benefits. It makes perfect sense that Social Security would not punish someone for at least trying to work, because if they did so no one would ever make the attempt.

          “I suggest” that the next time you think about using the word “never” you think about it for more than a nanosecond.

          11. Another weak unsupportable opinion. Good luck demonstrating that “It sucks passion away”, whatever that even means.

          12. Please demonstarte where I “defend it”. Perhaps you missed these words “I’m not saying this is good or bad …” in my post.

          Perhaps in your world, refuting a claim that something is “out of control” means one believes that “something” is either IN control or not a problem. One can only suppose that you live in a world of only black and white, as you seem to demonstrate frequently, including your examples of two hypothetical murders earlier today.

          • Gregg Smith

            Gee wiz. 

            Your comment was making points no one disputed and had nothing to do with the program so if you heard it, listen again. No one said (me included) that the same thing didn’t happen under Bush yet you felt the need to bring to up… and did so in a snarky manner. I was addressing the issues raised in the show. Just saying.When people are out of work because of a bad economy it does not make them disabled. This was discussed at length during TAL. One doctor said flat out he was putting people on disability because they couldn’t find a job. That’s fraud.

            The economy sucks. There is nothing on the horizon to address it and Obamacare is already taking it’s toll. 7.7% unemployment is awful. The U6 rate is awful. GDP is anemic as hell. There is no confidence. You can say it’s improving but it still sucks. Printing money is a ploy as are many of the “kick the can down the road” tactics. Obama owns it.

            The number is at an all time high buttresses my point that it’s out of control but that’s only part of that I meant. Population does not explain it. And yes fewer people are paying into the system for every one receiving. It’s a well documented dynamic and was discussed on the show.

            Again, I was referring to the show and the discussion of why the system was set up the way it was and the unintended consequences of the lawyers going nuts. Did you hear that part? I don’t blame the lawyers, I blame the system. I alleged no illegality, where did you get that?

            We need oversight now more than ever because we are broker than ever. Deficits are hight than ever. More people are on disability than ever. And the top brisket is paying more of the overall bill than ever while many are demanding more.

            Another topic of the show was how there are only two ways out: 1) aging onto another entitlement (social security) and dying. There are many people working under the table not paying taxes (illegal) to maintain their disability. 

            Look at your entire comment, it is a defense of the status quo. The one sentence does not change that. It’s a non sequitur anyway having to do with the unemployment rate not the fraud that is out of control.

            Oh and Howard Dean is the one who said tort reform was not addressed in Obamacare because Democrats were beholden to trial lawyers. He was correct.

          • hennorama

            Gregg Smith – Wrong. Again.

            My post was refuting your Chicken Little contention of what you described as “the explosion in numbers of people on disability” as being what you described as “completely out of control.” Notably, I was NOT making what you inaccurately describe as “a defense of the status quo.” One can only guess that you not only missed my words saying so (“I’m not saying this is good or bad …”), but also my pointed referencing of said words.

            There is neither an “explosion in numbers of people on disability” nor a situation that is “completely out of control.”

            This was shown both in my citations of past similar circumstances, going back even further in time than any of the Planet Money or This American Life contributors did, as well as the recent similar so-called “explosions” of disabled workers receiving Soc. Sec. Disability payments,

            Please prove otherwise, sir. Please.

            Please show how a change from 1993′s figure of 4.08 percent to 2011′s figure of 4.6 percent, a change of just over 0.5 percentage points, is “completely out of control.” Please.

            Please compare and contrast how this change of just over 0.5 percentage points is “completely out of control” but other larger recent economic changes of greater magnitude, such as sequestration, which results in spending category changes of 2.0% to 10.0%, are not also “completely out of control”.

            Please show where “One doctor said flat out he was putting people on disability because they couldn’t find a job.” Please.

            Please prove any “fraud”. Please.

            Please prove that correlation equals causation. Please.

            Please demonstrate that a particular number “at an all time high buttresses [Gregg Smith's] point that it’s out of control.” Please.

            IF you had said ” fewer people are paying into the system for every one receiving” I would not have disputed your remark. However, that is NOT what you wrote. Rather, you stated flatly “… fewer workers are paying for more people’s benefits.” Please demonstrate your personal integrity by acknowledging your error. Please. Or is it now your contention that you meant something other than what you wrote?

            Perhaps you will join Mr. Romney by saying “What I said is not what I believe.”

            Please prove the veracity of your contention “… Obamacare is already taking it’s toll.” Toll on what, exactly? Please.

            ———–

            You have a rather simplistic view of economics. As I’ve said multiple times before, the Great Recession is virtually unprecedented. More than five years later, economists are still trying to work out all of the various causes, and they continue to study its effects.

            You join the parade of those citing the decline in the LFPR as evidence of some calamity, without any discussion of demographics or other factors. This is foolish. Unless you are an expert, please refrain from using the LFPR as evidence of anything. I say this because even actual experts are unable to explain why either the Civilian Employment to Population Ratio (EMRATIO) or the Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate (CIVPART) have declined so rapidly and have not recovered as much as expected.

            Let me quote an actual expert, Willem Van Zandweghe, an economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, for you:

            “The sharp decline of the LFPR since the onset of the recent recession is due to long-term shifts related to demographic trends and to the cyclical downturn in the labor market. A variety of evidence indicates that, on balance, trend factors account for about half of the decline in labor force participation from 2007 to 2011, with cyclical factors accounting for the other half.”

            He defines “trend factors” as demographic, cultural, and institutional trends. The quote is from quite an interesting paper that Mr. Van Zandweghe wrote. I’ve read it. You can download it here:

            http://www.kc.frb.org/publicat/econrev/pdf/12q1VanZandweghe.pdf

            ———–

            Moving on …

            As I said, I heard the entire show, and read the transcripts as well. If you don’t like the way the system is currently configured, work to change it. TY for clarifying your position by stating you are not alleging any illegality.

            Except that your statement “I alleged no illegality …” is not actually true, as you repeatedly use the word “fraud” in your posts, yet fail to demonstrate “fraud” in any way other than your opinion.

            ———–

            Again, you show a lack of factual knowledge about the economy. You contend “… we are broker than ever. Deficits are hight [sic] than ever.” Please define “broker than ever” as this comparative phrase has no reference points.

            Please also note that deficits are NOT “high[er] than ever.” Federal deficits have declined, sir. Perhaps this fact has escaped you, somehow. Here’s an accurate quote from, and a link to, a recent investors.com article, titled “U.S. Deficit Shrinking At Fastest Pace Since WWII, Before Fiscal Cliff”:

            “Believe it or not, the federal deficit has fallen faster over the past three years than it has in any such stretch since demobilization from World War II.

            “In fact, outside of that post-WWII era, the only time the deficit has fallen faster was when the economy relapsed in 1937, turning the Great Depression into a decade-long affair.

            “If U.S. history offers any guide, we are already testing the speed limits of a fiscal consolidation that doesn’t risk backfiring. That’s why the best way to address the fiscal cliff likely is to postpone it.

            “While long-term deficit reduction is important and deficits remain very large by historical standards, the reality is that the government already has its foot on the brakes.”

            See:http://news.investors.com/blogs-capital-hill/112012-634082-federal-deficit-falling-fastest-since-world-war-ii.htm#ixzz2OZX2lrie

            ———–

            Again, you prove the falsity of your statement “I alleged no illegality …” by stating, without any supporting information whatsoever, “There are many people working under the table not paying taxes (illegal) to maintain their disability.” Perhaps you missed your own use of the word “illegal”.

            ———–

            As stated clearly, my posts were not and are not what you describe as ” a defense of the status quo.” My posts are refutations of YOUR words and contentions.

            You wrote ” Your one sentence does not change that. It’s a non sequitur anyway having to do with the unemployment rate not the fraud that is out of control.” As you did not quote “[My] one sentence …” one must guess that this is what you were referring to:

            “I’m not saying this is good or bad, just presenting info.”

            This sentence referred to the entire paragraph above it, which was part of a response to another poster (StilllHere) who posted in full:

            “Social Security Disability recipients are at a record level of over 8 million, this increase has coincided with the populace of those who have exhausted extended unemployment benefits. Have we created a culture of dependency?”

            See:http://onpoint.wbur.org/2012/09/18/romney-and-the-dependent-47#comment-655560883

            I responded, again in full as previously quoted:

            “This phenomenon is not unique to these economic times. It occurs when the length of time it takes people to find work becomes extended. In other words, when people who are out of work have great difficult finding work.”

            “I’m not saying this is good or bad, just presenting info.”

            “As I’ve said before, the most worrisome aspect of the current job picture is the number of people who have been out of work for long periods. Any efforts to increase employment should focus on these workers, as they are the most likely to NOT find work when hiring picks up, and therefore are the most likely to receive Federal support, whether it be housing, nutrition, cash assistance or disability.”

            As one can easily see, “this is” used in “[My] one sentence …” is a reference to “This phenomenon” and “It”, both of which are references to “Social Security Disability recipients are at a record level of over 8 million…”.

            “[My] one sentence …” was and is not in any way what you describe as “… a non sequitur anyway having to do with the unemployment rate not the fraud that is out of control.”

            There was a direct sequence of references, all completely logical and related to what was previously written and pointedly not “… having to do with the unemployment rate…”. Please show otherwise, if you can.

            ——————

            Here’s an accurate quote of Howard Dean, and a link to a site containing the quote, which indicated “Source: To Save America, by Newt Gingrich, p.101 , May 17, 2010″ :

            “The reason why tort reform is not in the bill is because the people who wrote it did not want to take on the trial lawyers in addition to everybody else they were taking on, and that is the plain and simple truth.”

            Did Mr. Dean or your idol Mr. Gingrich say anything like your contention “Oh and Howard Dean is the one who said tort reform was not addressed in Obamacare because Democrats were beholden to trial lawyers.”? If so, please point that out, especially where they say “beholden”. Perhaps you can consult your copy of Mr. Gingrich’s book, presuming you have one.

            Again, this is all a refutation of your words, not a defense of anything (other than some of my words, as noted).

            Is that explained clearly enough for you, Gregg Smith?

          • Gregg Smith

            First, I didn’t read all of that. Sorry. I read the beginning and the end and scanned the middle a little.

            You are defending the hell out of the status quo. That’s all your comments are, that is the parts not about me. My comment was 2 sentences, you wrote a library about the vague phrase “out of control”. You are attempting to explain it all away, fine, just admit it. It’s not just the numbers that are out of control it’s the fraud and the snowball affect.

            And why do you keep quoting yourself saying the correlation between unemployment and disability is neither good or bad? Do you actually believe that means you are or are not defending it? That’s weird. There is a correlation and it is bad. The two issues have should have nothing to do with each other. It’s not that people are out of work because they are on disability, it’s the other way around.

            When Dean made the speech it was news. There were clarifications and follow up interviews. That speech was not the only time he made the charge and he is not the only Democrat to level it. He used the word “beholden”. I could be wrong but I don’t think so. It changes nothing I was not quoting him directly mine is a fair representation of what he said. I was tuned in at the time and not just trying to google up some knowledge years later. Are you really saying the Democrats are not beholden to trial lawyers? Really? Do you think they are beholden to unions? Or Republicans are beholden to the NRA or Christian coalition?

            Why are you so nasty? It’s really hard not to get in the gutter with you but I don’t typically roll that way.

          • Gregg Smith

            PS- I love Newt!… but he’s not my idol.

          • hennorama

            Gregg Smith – again, you are unsurprising. You write “… I didn’t read all of that” yet you feel the need to comment. Perfect. Explains a lot.

            Writing at length may perhaps merely be a blind spot for me, as I read and absorb information rapidly, and compose and write rapidly. At times I forget this is not a universal phenomenon. I make no apologies in this regard.

            In the case of responses to you, the breathtaking volume of opinionated horse manure in your posts results in my voluminous fact-based replies. Recent posts refuted your comments point-by-point. One day perhaps I may learn that using facts as a response to opinionated nonsense is not always the best tactic.

            But really, this is all your fault. If you simply stopped posting such rubbish, my responses would therefore be reduced.

            As to your post, once again, you are wrong. Your apparent inabilty to grasp the meaning of simple words and phrases is not my responsibility. If you can point out any statement I made that “defends” anything or “explain[s] it all away” please do so.

            I will repeat, in an effort to provide you with a simple, unambiguous message:

            This

            is

            all

            a

            refutation (FYI – this word means “the act or process of proving something wrong by evidence or argument.” You can look it up.)

            of

            your

            words,

            not

            a

            defense

            of

            anything.

            Period.

            Perhaps you just scanned over or didn’t read those words, given that you said “… I didn’t read all of that” above. Maybe this is just one of your habits. Given that you seem to ignore your own words as well (i.e. “I alleged no illegality …” and then going on to use the words “fraud” and “illegal”), perhaps this should be no surprise.

            You appear to inhabit some alternate universe where everything is either black or white. Your nonsensical statement “You are defending the hell out of the status quo,” despite my repeated and pointed statements that I am not defending anything, is along the lines of Pres. Bush II’s simplistic remark on Sept. 20, 2001 – “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”

            See:http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2001/09/20010920-8.html

            One feels the urge to award you a new moniker, something using “thick skull” and/or “brick wall”. Perhaps “thick brick skull wall” might be most apt. I’ll let that one simmer a bit.

            Further commentary will likely also be ignored, so I will simply repeat my message:

            This is all a refutation of your words, not a defense of anything. Period.

          • Gregg Smith

            Nice dodge but it’s not about me.

            “Breathtaking volume”?It was two sentences. Facts are fine but you are terrible at interpreting their meaning outside your preconceived notions.

            Yadda yadda. No one cares. I know that makes your head explode, sad. You’ve refuted nothing. It’s all in your head. Carry on.

          • hennorama

            Gregg Smith – As suspected, you DO ignore your own words. This is an odd blind spot that you might want to have checked out.

            “It was two sentences.” Right. I guess you are unable to see these multi-sentence posts written by you, in this very thread:

            http://onpoint.wbur.org/2013/03/22/week-in-the-news-235#comment-840868465

            http://onpoint.wbur.org/2013/03/22/week-in-the-news-235#comment-841181974

            http://onpoint.wbur.org/2013/03/22/week-in-the-news-235#comment-841952631

            “thick brick skull wall” is looking better and better the more you post.

            By the way, this is not “nasty” according to my lexicon. Rather, this is “not suffering fools gladly,” despite St. Paul’s admonition.

            If you have specific questions you’d like answered, please list them.

            If you have specific “claims [you] refuted” that you wish me to address, please list them.

          • Gregg Smith

            Alrighty then.

    • JGC

      I didn’t read the whole article yet, but one thing that struck me early on was the increase in the category of mental disability, now around 20% of the new disability claims.  Does that mean that if Congress enacts some anti-gun violence laws with a component for restricting access based on mental disability, this segment of the population on disability payments will forfeit their rights to firearms?  

      • Gregg Smith

        That is an excellent question JGC. I haven’t heard it addressed. My gut tells me the increase in mental disability is because the term is so vague.

        • JGC

          Mental disability might be thought of as  vague and “suggestible”; also maybe the general population has been more educated to its prevalence/availability.  
           

          • Gregg Smith

            I agree and I should say mental disability is real and too often overlooked. I didn’t mean to imply otherwise. The scammers make it worse.

          • JGC

            People now are just more sensitized to this being a possible diagnosis for a problem.  I also think  that for the integrity of the disability claim system to work, it has to be for people who have a “true” disability, and not a back door entry into faux welfare. Once Obamacare settles in (in a few more years), the lack of  normal access to healthcare will have been (mostly) addressed and people will not need to create a disability where none existed before, in order to access good healthcare. If there is a solid healthcare option, they can work at even low-paying jobs and feel more secure that basic needs are being met.

          • Gregg Smith

            I agree with everything you wrote… except for the implication that Obamacare is a “solid health care option”. I guess that’s the rub.

          • JGC

            I need to rethink some of what  I wrote, after looking at the chart again. I still think good access to healthcare will be helpful in job mobility.  But that is not the driver in disability claims ( to get good healthcare).  I will continue with this after your original post above, because now am  trapped in the Disqus squeeze zone. 

    • JGC

      If government disability pays $13,000 a year + Medicare benefits, and a full time minimum wage job pays $15,000 per year with no health insurance, maybe the minimum wage should be increased so that there is more incentive and financial where-withal to make employment a more attractive option over a disability claim.

      • Gregg Smith

        I am all for making employment a more attractive option. I don’t like the Minimum wage but that aside, I don’t think small business can handle being forced to pay more. The result will be less jobs. Minimum wage always hurts the poor most in the end. There have been many studies on the matter.

        The show pointed out that when welfare was reformed the numbers went up because the states pay for welfare (after 1996) and the feds pay for disability. This created an incentive for states to help people get disability and spawned a cottage industry to facilitate it.

    • JGC

      The chart “Newly Disabled Workers by Diagnosis” – the top two categories recently are back pain (33.9%) and mental illness (19.2%).  So half the disability claims are in a nebulous area that cannot be objectively measured for its veracity.  I mean (for example) that between 1961 when disability due to diabetes was 2.5%,  and now (2012ish) when disability due to diabetes is 3.7%, one cannot say there has been an explosion of disability claims due to diabetes, even though all anecdotal evidence suggests we are becoming an obese over-sugared nation and one would therefore expect to see a huge  increase of diabetes claims, not one that is just 1% above the measurement of 50 years ago. A doctor can do a blood test and say reliably, “Yes, you are definitely diabetic and here is what you need to do to improve your health.” So that would satisfy a few disability claims, but not even close to all the claims being put in for back pain and mental illness. Does that make sense?

      • Gregg Smith

        That chart is very interesting when one considers the medical advances since 1961 that, in theory, should make the numbers go down and some have like heart disease. Back pain went from 8.3% in 1961 to a whopping 33.8% in 2011. That’s huge and suspicious. 

        The biggest problem I see is the ability to have an honest debate about it. It’s too easy to frame any attempt to address it as heartless.

        • JGC

          Yes, agreed, and also the distribution of claims by state is a sensitive area. Like, who would have thought Maine would be a major claimant for Soc. Sec. disability? And that California is found on the low end? 

        • JGC

          Also I am thinking there are inroads being made into objective pain measurement by MRI brain scans.  The cost for this apparently can run $3000 or more, but if done in a diagnostic imaging center (not a hospital setting), that can keep the cost down. There should eventually be a day when claimants for pain-related SS Disability must undergo an MRI to see if they meet an established pain threshold. The cost of the scan is small compared to years and years of benefits mistakenly paid out.  Also, I don’t know if there is any mechanism in place for reevaluating disability level some time later. Maybe every two years to be reevaluated? 

        • hennorama

          Gregg Smith – Holy Shiite!  You wrote something that is accurate!

          “Back pain went from 8.3% in 1961 to a whopping 33.8% in 2011. That’s huge and suspicious.”

          THAT is the ONLY thing one can accurately conclude about this entire issue.  Some of the changes are suspicious.

      • hennorama

        JGC – one should be very cautious when comparing all of these categories over a fifty year time period, without any data for intervening periods.  There can be legitimate reasons for the changes, and even very simple explanations.

        For example, better medical diagnostic tools and more specific diagonoses.  Just look at the “OTHER” Category.  In 1961, this was a big catchall category, and was the # 2 “Diagnosis”.  This changed significantly over fifty years, and that same category is now about one-third the percentage it was fifty years ago.  Why?  The most likely reason is improved diagnostic tools available to health care professionals, allowing for more specific diagnoses.

        Another possible reason is a change in definitions of the terminology used.  This happens all the time in various fields over fifty year time periods, and is especially true when government entities are involved.  To name just one – U.S. Census data prior to 1980 is very difficult to compare to more recent data due to the changes in the way various groups are categorized. For example, “official” data for 1960 showed a category of “White Spanish surnamed.”  Then the term “Hispanic” came into vogue and widespread use.

        Here’s the 1960 Census question about race:

        “Is this person – White, Negro, American Indian, Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Hawaiian, Part Hawaiian, Aleut, Eskimo, (etc.)?
        ____________________ ”

        What does this mean?  Well, it’s one possible simple explanation for the “explosion” of some other categories and the decline of others.  For example, what if the decline in the “OTHER” Category was entirely due to improved or changed diagnosis of “Back Pain And Other Musculoskeletal Problems”?

        Again, caution is needed before drawing conclusions.

        • JGC

          Yes, yes, I saw that mysterious “other” category from the 1961 side, and it is so large, I wonder what was thrown into it. The whole thing about pain is so nebulous; pain can truly be disabling (physically, mentally), and then there is also that whole bias against women who report pain.  A pain scale attached to an MRI brain scan would be helpful in diagnosing true disabling levels of pain.  I don’t think it has been reliably developed yet, but something like this would be an excellent use of Affordable Care Act/Obamacare funding to bend the healthcare/disability curve. 

          When I looked at Social Security Disability figures on their site from 1998 to 2011, there is a constant increase in the categories of age 18-64. I was expecting to see little increase from 1998 to 2007, and much more from 2007 to 2011 when I thought the recession would be pushing more people more quickly into Disability as a back door Welfare. In PA 2005: 113,974 on Disability, PA 2007: 119,131, and PA 2011:  138,172. Is that significant? Not sure. I only looked at Pennsylvania ’cause that is where I am from, and I also peeked at North Carolina ’cause I was hoping to find some kind of smoking gun I could rag on with Gregg  ;)

          • hennorama

            JGC- TY for your thoughtful response. I respect and appreciate your views, and particularly appreciate your posts with a “Canadian flavor”. Speaking of “Canadian flavor” – can you get good poutine anywhere near you?

            As I said, improved diagnostic tools are involved in some of these changes, and as you said, improved diagnostic tools may result in further changes.

            In addition, when one looks at the incidence of claims of those under age 18, one need only point to the various changes in medical and psychological diagnoses over the fifty year span, and their change in frequency. (ADHD, the autism spectrum, dyslexia, other learning disabilities, etc. etc. etc.).

            There MAY be significance to the changes in the raw numbers over time, but one also needs to look at demographics and other data in any particular area before drawing conclusions, For example, is the median age or age distribution of the population of PA (or any other area) changing along with these disabilty numbers? One would expect a higher incidence of disabilty in older populations, to name just one factor.

            One also needs to view the raw numbers in perspective with the portion of the population they represent, In other words, the numbers may have changed at a rate that is greater or lower than the change in total population in any particualr locale.

            These changes are interesting, but it is virtually impossible to draw accurate conclusions without much more information.

            Thanks again for your thoughtful response.

          • Gregg Smith

            It varies greatly from State to State and I would guess that is more of a result of politics than demographics.

  • OnPointComments

    An adjunct to the discussion of the use of abstract statistics to form an ideal society.
     
    The mortgage crisis and housing bubble were partially instigated and fueled by the desire of politicians and bureaucrats to force lenders into making loans to people who couldn’t qualify for a loan.   If a bank’s loan policy included elements such as a minimum credit score or annual income requirement, and the policy resulted in one group getting less loans than another, the banks were charged with discrimination because of “disparate impact,” where THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS IS THE STATISTICS; key credit factors such as income, ability to pay, credit scores, downpayment, income, and debt level were deemed irrelevant.
     
    Can another loan bubble happen?  The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is contemplating bringing “disparate impact” cases on auto loans and student loans.  As stated in the article referenced below, “the administration’s ‘discriminatory effects’ analysis excludes key credit factors explaining racial gaps.”  Once again, THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS IS THE STATISTICS.
    “Obama Adds Auto, Student Loans To Racism Probe”
     http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials-perspective/030613-647029-cfpb-to-sue-racist-auto-student-lenders.htm?p=full

  • Gregg Smith

    How do you feel about Obama pardoning the sequester and sending it to Portugal? This is hilarious!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3gXOV_XWJck

  • http://mirroronamerica.blogspot.com/ Brian E.

    In response to your Friday, March 22nd, ‘Week In The News’ segment with Peter Beinart, Karen Tumulty, and Jack Beatty- I have to comment on the topic of American foreign policy. I have listened to the show since its inception and I usually enjoy the analysts and what they have to say – Jack Beatty being my favorite commentator on the show. But on the subject of Obama, Israel and U.S. foreign policy, specifically as it pertains to the Middle East, the commentators seemed disconnected from reality. They suggested, correctly, that the U.S. should avoid anymore wars in the Middle East after the Iraq disaster, and that the U.S. could not afford to waste anymore blood and treasure there. They suggested that Obama privately must have told Israel’s radical Prime Minister Netanyahu, that the U.S. doesn’t want anymore wars and that this nation had “turned the page” on this period of war. It was time for this country to establish a period of peace and focus on reinvesting in America. They believe that any new wars would be a mistake and that the American people wanted to move on to other concerns.I agree with every bit of that (and then some). The U.S. should realize that the source of its power comes from its domestic economy and its middle class. The U.S. must stop meddling overseas and (in many cases) instigating conflicts. The BRICS nations understand this all too well. Unfortunately, the U.S. just doesn’t get it. As long as this country continues to pursue its current foreign policy of empire and global cop, it will continue to be a drain on the treasury, add to the national debt, and will continue to be a drag on the U.S. economy, with precious resources being misdirected elsewhere. The BRICS countries will continue to outpace the U.S. The vision of Barry Posen, another recent guest on the program, should be the future of American foreign policy and is long overdue. His book on the subject should be the most profound foreign policy literature to come along in decades. But there was just one problem. Your panel made it sound as if this was the direction that the Obama administration was headed in or that it at least wanted to go in that direction. There is no indication, at all really, that Obama has been making a strong effort to avoid war. There is no sign that Obama has really “turned the page“. The panel missed the elephant in the room. While Obama was in the Middle East playing the role of peacemaker between the Israeli’s and Palestinians, and while the panel was giving their pie in the sky assessment, the Obama administration was simultaneously pushing more war and it has been for some time now. The U.S. seems to be looking for any reason to jump into the conflict in Syria. Just within the last few weeks, the U.S., led by John Kerry of all people (the supposed dove), has increased the American commitment to the Syrian opposition forces, getting the U.S. more deeply involved, although incrementally. More money was offered and the door was finally opened for possible arms shipments from the U.S. down the road. (Surely our tax money is already going towards arms purchases indirectly). Obama, who has become a tool of sorts for Israel, also promised that country that the U.S. would launch a war against Iran- a sovereign State- not because Iran has attacked the U.S. or Israel unprovoked, no…. but that the U.S. would attack based on uranium enrichment activities (although research and development of such material is actually legal under NPT rules and under International Law), and based on the idea that Iran MIGHT….just MIGHT do something to some other country some day. It’s a ludicrous, reckless, highly nonsensical argument, but this is the reality of where we are today. An attack on Iran would do for Iranian dictators what they themselves have not been able to do in 33 years since the Revolution – unite the Iranian people around them.It was ironic to hear the panel assessing the aftermath of the Iraq disaster after 10 years, while ignoring the fact that the U.S. had already begun the process of repeating the same nightmare. Just last week a story leaked to the press about U.S. war plans in Iran. Despite the fact that attacking Iran would be incredibly unwise, could drag in other Countries, antagonize and illicit a response from Russia, stir a hornets nest with militant groups, and wouldn’t even meet the original objective of preventing nuclear development (if Iran is even pursuing such a goal). Yet despite all of that, by all accounts, this is the direction that the U.S. is headed. And I have not heard any push back from progressive voices in the media, probably because we have a Democrat in the White House. Progressives don’t want to be seen bashing the President. But the fact is, Obama has continued the Bush Neo-con foreign policy, especially policies pertaining to drones, Gitmo and pre-emptive war. U.S. interventions in Iran and/or Syria have the potential to be far greater mistakes than Iraq… more of a reason to do more to prevent them. I encourage you to read ‘The Iran Project’ report…which states that the U.S. may have to invade Iran and that hundreds of thousands of troops would be required (troops, equipment and money that the U.S. just can’t afford). A war with Iran would dwarf Iraq. The same is probably true for Syria…because it is pretty clear that (at least for now) Russia is not willing to let the Assad government fall. It is clear that Russia wants to maintain their military base in Syria. They may send more troops to fight for Assad’s survival. You already have a proxy war in Syria (like the old Cold War battles) between East and West. One stupid decision by a Western policymaker could put Russian forces in direct combat with Western/NATO troops….something we managed to avoid for over 65 years and now all of a sudden American policymakers are carelessly wanting to dive into such a scenario. It’s maddening. In the end, Israel, a nation Obama is subordinate to (like all Presidents since Truman), may end up taking actions that will ultimately drag the U.S. and NATO into this bloody and senseless civil war. Israel and it’s nutjob Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would love nothing more than to have the U.S. do their dirty work. In addition to U.S. policy stirring trouble in the Middle East, the U.S. is also instigating the conflict between the Koreas. It is an established fact that North Korea wants negotiations, they want a comprehensive peace treaty to replace the armistice agreement, and they want a normalization of relations with the U.S. (or at least a path to that end). Here we have an enemy that actually wants to talk as a way out. Despite this, the U.S. refuses to negotiate unless it is done on American terms…and with a 6-party configuration that purposely complicates the process and makes reaching an agreement almost impossible (and American policymakers have to know this to be the case). One on one talks could calm the situation in Southeast Asia…but instead the U.S. is engaging in this dangerous game of tit for tat one-upsmanship. John Kerry, the so called dove in the Administration, has shown himself to be just as hawkish as his predecessor, Hillary Clinton. Needless to say, he has been a huge let down. The risk is, South Korea, known for being bellicose itself…and for antagonizing the North by testing borders (which triggered the North Korean military actions) could, carelessly banking on U.S. protection, trigger another confrontation. The next confrontation could lead to a major conflict. There are skirmishes between the two Countries on a regular basis. Why are we waiting for the next skirmish to lead to war? One would think that U.S. diplomats would be working to calm the situation there. Instead… Secretary Kerry and his staff have been sitting on their hands, waiting for a miscalculation to take place. But this situation could easily be remedied by putting a comprehensive peace deal on the table, joining in negotiations, dropping some of the many pre-conditions, allowing one on one talks if necessary to make progress, and perhaps by sending skilled diplomats along with high level envoys to the region, like Bill Clinton or Governor Richardson. Your program could be vital in informing the public of conflicts to come. It could be a platform for educating the public…and perhaps we could prevent the next conflict. But this can’t happen if your guests have blinders on. Right now, the U.S. is headed for more train wrecks in the Middle East and beyond. We are seeing the lead-up to Iraq being played out all over again. This is the time for the media to ask the right questions, push back, challenge policymakers, to look out for the best interests of the American people (the government gave up that responsibility some time ago), and to be a voice of reason in a nation that still has plenty of war lust. This nation has essentially romanticized war. The media failed at all of these tasks 10 years ago. There is no better way to remember and honor the sacrifices made in the Iraq disaster during the 10 year anniversary than by preventing the next one. You can help stop policymakers from making the same mistakes all over again.- BrianTwitter: @Bryone592  

  • pete18

    A follow up to Greg’s post about This American’s Life piece on disability. Media Matters Attacks NPR: ”

    “Such government dependency, says local school district official
    Melanie Stevens, traps poor children and families in a cycle of
    taxpayer-funded dependency that replaces dreams with welfare checks:
    “The greatest challenge we face as educators is how to break that
    dependency on government. In second grade, they have a dream. In seventh
    grade, they have a plan.”

    As the New York Times’ Kristof concluded,
    “This is painful for a liberal to admit, but conservatives have a point
    when they suggest that America’s safety net can sometimes entangle
    people in a soul-crushing dependency. Our poverty programs do rescue
    many people, but other times they backfire.”

    http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Journalism/2013/03/26/Media-Matters-Attacks-NPR-For-Disability-Program-Expos

    • Gregg Smith

      I used the phrase “It sucks passion away” which confused one commenter. I didn’t elaborate because I felt it was plain. It’s an unintended (I hope) consequence with devastating effects. Thanks for posting.

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Humorist and longtime Fortune columnist Stanley Bing says, “forget the MBA.” He’s got the low-down on what you really need to master in business. Plus: the sky-high state of executive salaries.

 
Apr 16, 2014
A woman walks past a CVS store window in Foxborough, Mass., Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012. The nation’s major drugstore chains are opening more in-store clinics in response to the massive U.S. health care overhaul, which is expected to add about 25 million newly insured people who will need medical care and prescriptions, as well as offering more services as a way to boost revenue in the face of competition from stores like Safeway and Wal-Mart. (AP)

Retailers from Walgreens to Wal-Mart to CVS are looking to turn into health care outlets. It’s convenient. Is it good medicine? Plus: using tech to disrupt the healthcare market.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
How Boston Is Getting Ready For the 2014 Boston Marathon
Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014

Boston Globe metro reporter Maria Cramer explains how the 2014 Boston Marathon will be different than races in the past.

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WBUR’s David Boeri: ‘There’s Still Much We Don’t Know’
Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014

WBUR’s senior reporter David Boeri details the ongoing investigation into the alleged Boston Marathon Bombing perpetrators.

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Remembering The Boston Marathon Bombing, One Year Later
Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014

One year after the Boston Marathon Bombing, we look back at our own coverage of the attacks and the community’s response from April 2013.

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