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The U.S., Saudi Arabia And The New Middle East

The United States and Saudi Arabia — longtime allies now divided on some big issues. We look at how they’re both engaging with a reshaped Middle East.

US President Barack Obama with Saudi King Abdullah at Rawdat Khuraim, Saudi Arabia, Friday, March 28, 2014. (AP)

US President Barack Obama with Saudi King Abdullah at Rawdat Khuraim, Saudi Arabia, Friday, March 28, 2014. (AP)

For almost 70 years, since F.D.R. famously met with Ibn Saud on his way home from Crimea near the end of World War II, the United States and Saudi Arabia have been bone-deep allies.  The Saudis had the oil.  The US had the military power.  There were issues.  Big ones.  Israel.  Oil embargo.  9/11 and Islamism.  But oil and power attracted one another.  They still do.  But the Middle East is changing.  Riyadh and Washington are at odds on Syria, on Egypt, on Iran, more.  Maybe even on energy.  This hour On Point:  the President visits Riyadh, and the Saudi-US divide.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Gregory Gause, professor of political science at the University of Vermont. Non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Doha Center. “The International Relations of the Persian Gulf.”

Michael Crowley, chief foreign affairs correspondent for TIME Magazine. (@CrowleyTIME)

Shadi Hamid, fellow of the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy. Author of the forthcoming “Temptations of Power: Islamists and Illiberal Democracy In a New Middle East.” (@shadihamid)

From Tom’s Reading List

USA Today: Obama looks to win back Saudi confidence — “The relationship between the two nations began to fray three years ago when protests against longtime Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak swelled, and Obama turned against him, experts said. Now, Saudi leaders are worried about Obama’s outreach to Iran as Washington seeks to reach a deal over its nuclear program, analysts said. And the Saudis believe the U.S. is not doing enough to help those fighting against President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.”

New York Times: America’s Role in Riyadh — “Like their government, many ordinary Saudis are baffled by what they perceive as incompetent United States policies. Most remain notably pro-American and, ever polite, apologize before averring their lost faith in America’s leader, variously described in as ‘feckless’ and ‘addicted to wrong decision-making.’”

TIME: Middle East Matters Most to Obama–Not Putin –”Although Putin is dangerous and nuclear terrorism is an extremely serious threat, neither one sits at the very top of his foreign policy agenda. For a clue towards what occupies the president most, look no farther than his visit Friday with the king of Saudi Arabia. Even after Putin’s thuggish annexation of Crimea, it’s not Russia and Europe that matter most to Obama’s agenda. It’s the Middle East. Let us count the ways.” (You can also read Crowley’s piece, “The King and O,” here.)

POLITICO Reporter Carrie Budoff Brown’s Viral Photos From The President’s Saudi Arabian Visit

https://twitter.com/cbudoffbrown/status/449551438931165186

https://twitter.com/cbudoffbrown/status/449551864132927490

https://twitter.com/cbudoffbrown/status/449564741338669056

https://twitter.com/cbudoffbrown/status/449567914035654656

https://twitter.com/cbudoffbrown/status/449567914035654656

https://twitter.com/cbudoffbrown/status/449568034198671360

https://twitter.com/cbudoffbrown/status/449572714555383808

https://twitter.com/cbudoffbrown/status/449573576900112386

https://twitter.com/cbudoffbrown/status/449594913467166722

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  • Oh bummer

    ‘Putin’s thuggish annexation of Crimea’ (Time Magazine)

    95% of Ukrainians voted in a referendum to rejoin Russia. Sorry Time Magazine, just because Crimea said NO to the neo-fascism that Obama, Nuland, and Kerry tried to export there, doesn’t make the good people of Crimea, supporters of thuggery.

    How many innocent people has Putin killed by illegal drone strikes? 0.
    Obama? Hundreds? Thousands? Clearly Obama is the ‘thug’, not Putin.

    • Shag_Wevera

      It isn’t really the current administration, it is our foreign policy ongoing. Neither party is innocent. I guess with a tag like “Oh Bummer” you might have a particular motivation to slam only the individuals from one party from one administration.

    • Fredlinskip

      Perhaps you ought consider a move to Crimea- or better yet another border country, to help Russian KGB organize the next land grab. If you do, you can still criticize America with impunity- just be careful about criticizing Russia- free speech has it’s limits over there.

      • Oh bummer

        Your President, Obama, has supported Al-Qaeda in Libya and Syria, as well neo-fascist thugs who overthrew the democratically govt. in Ukraine. I will criticize your President when he does such dangerous and idiotic things. Maybe you should move. I suggest North Korea, their rigid, thought control system would be just perfect for someone as mind-less as you.

        • Ray in VT

          “Your President”? Are you not American? Your tired lines about supporting al Qaeda and “neo fascist thugs” really are quite boring (their factual problems aside).

          • Oh bummer

            What’ ‘tiring, is mind-less Obamanoids like yourself who swallow all the lies and propaganda coming out of this criminal regime as if it were the Gospel truth, it’s not.

          • Ray in VT

            Yes, it’s all a big conspiracy that only the super geniuses like yourself are wise enough to see through.

          • hennorama

            Ray in VT — it doesn’t require super geniuses to see through the conspiracy.

            However, it does require one to believe:

            A. “The govt.” is all-powerful and controls all information

            B. “The govt.” is all-powerful and controls all information, but they don’t really do a very good job of it, since “the truth” and “the facts” are somehow known to, and revealed by, a select few

            C. A and B are both true, simultaneously

          • Ray in VT

            Sort of like the birthers? The people who engineered Obama’s rise to the American Presidency skillfully managed that but screwed up the font on his “fake” birth certificate. That seems to be a line from them. Massively powerful yet amazingly incompetent.

          • Oh bummer

            Obama is ‘amazingly incompetent’. I completely agree with you on that Ray.

          • Ray in VT

            If only we could be so blessed as to have true individuals of genius such as yourself in positions of power, as you have managed to peer through the veil of the conspiracies that so many others have not.

          • Shag_Wevera

            Neo fascist usually denotes the right fringe. You should call them neo-communists.

          • Ray in VT

            Neo fascists? Like Russia’s “state capitalism”?

        • hennorama

          Number and sillier than Joe the Plumber, oh this nonsense is. Hmmmmmm. (h/t yodaspeak.co.uk)

    • Shag_Wevera

      Oops, I just noticed that our conversation has been posted under the wrong topic! I guess this discussion is focusing on the American/Saudi relationship!

  • Shag_Wevera

    I’d love to see what would happen to mid-east oil producers and our attitude toward them if oil was suddenly worthless.

    • Ray in VT

      I think that it is very likely that we would be rather inclined to tell them to sod off.

    • HonestDebate1

      There is a way and that is to exploit our own energy reserves.

      • jimino

        Yes, I agree we should prohibit the sale or transfer of our energy resources and those which pass through our country to any foreign entity, on national security grounds.

        • HonestDebate1

          I disagree, we should export to Europe, especially Eastern Europe.

      • Don_B1

        Correct on part where the fuel comes from sources within the U.S., just wrong on which sources, as fossil fuels must not be part of the “mix” in less than 15 years.

        Sustainable fuels, from PV solar, from wind, from burning renewables, from trash crops to algae derived jet fuels and even Concentrated Solar are where efforts must begin use right now.

    • hennorama

      Shag_Wevera — Bill O’Reilly thinks “everybody on the planet should be rooting for Tesla,” which seems supportive of your main idea:

      I’ll give you one concrete thing that all responsible people should be rooting for. On “60 Minutes” last night they reported on the Tesla electric car, which is a gamechanger. The car runs extremely, well looks good, and doesn’t use gas — no gas at all. Now that car in the next few years could be available to millions, at a decent price.

      So everybody on the planet should be rooting for Tesla — I mean everybody, even traditional car companies that will have to compete. If Telsa can make a clean car the entire automotive industry can.

      Therefore the air cleaner everywhere, and our wallets, thicker. So let’s get on it people!

      But there will be resistance. Many conservatives don’t believe in global warming, and oppose alternative energy. I hope you guys rethink the energy part. I agree many in the green lobby are self righteous, arrogant, and dumb. But we’d all be better off if clean, cheap energy becomes the norm. And that’s the truth.

      Source:
      http://www.businessinsider.com/bill-oreilly-lavishes-tesla-with-praise-one-year-after-blasting-it-2014-4#ixzz2xeA0WVXU

      • WorriedfortheCountry

        Could Mr. Bill let us know when the Tesla is affordable and has a decent range? Mr. Bill can afford a $100K toy but what about the rest of us.

        Here is a thought exercise. What will reduce our dependence on oil more — a $20K hybrid that gets 100 mpg or a $35K all electric?

        • hennorama

          WftC — please forgive this facile response:

          “[hennorama] reports, you decide.”

        • hennorama

          WftC — an brief update:

          Mr. O’Reilly just doubled down on Tesla. He debated the topic with fellow Foxite, Eric Bolling of The Five on this evening’s show, rhetorically asking Mr. Bolling if he liked OPEC and Putin.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Thanks for the pointer. I did catch it.

            Even though they appear to fundamentally disagree, in a way they were both right.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Looks like OnPoint will have a mini-segment on Tesla tomorrow in the 1st hour.

        • Don_B1

          The Tesla already has a “decent range” of about 250 miles, and supports trips beyond that with a battery change-out which can be accomplished in less than 90 seconds, faster than filling a gas tank.

  • Fredlinskip

    I believe in picture above Obama has just asked the King if he could use some fracked Natural gas.

  • HonestDebate1

    The Saudis denied the visa to an American Jewish reporter covering the trip. No problem. Obama went anyway.

    • Ray in VT

      Yup. He should have just stayed home. Problem solved.

    • Oh bummer

      That would probably explain why Obama is such a big fan of the despotic Saudi regime.

      • Don_B1

        That would be why Obama’s not responding to follow every whim of the Saudi’s and reportedly the Saudi’s are quite angry?

    • jimino

      A cogent point, if one were engaging with 8 year-olds on their level. Or with “Oh bummer.” I expect you will defend it to the hilt with similarly foolish points.

      • HonestDebate1

        I just don’t think anti-semitism should be supported by our government. Sue me.

        • jimino

          By your “logic”, If you or anyone who agrees with you uses petroleum products that are in any way connected to Saudi Arabia, you are anti-Semitic.

          So when do you plan to take your own advice?

          • HonestDebate1

            That’s not my logic.

        • Ray in VT

          Were you also heavily critical of former President Bush for holding the hand of the Saudi King, given the support that the House of Saud provides for militant Islam, via the Wahabbi movement?

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            I have no problem with a President holding hands if we get oil for less than $70/barrel in return.

          • Ray in VT

            So, being closely intertwined with a country that supports radical, militant Islam isn’t a problem if the oil is reasonably priced? Should we have kicked them to the curb when oil prices spiked in 2008?

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            You now ask two completely different questions.

          • Ray in VT

            So yes on the former? What about the latter?

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            I wouldn’t say ‘kick them to the curb’ but certainly put pressure on them to ease prices. Maybe they tried and failed?

          • Ray in VT

            But being cozy with the funders of militant, radical Islam is okay if the oil is cheap(ish)? That seems awfully shortsighted. It seems to me that we are likely always pressuring nations such as Saudi Arabia in such ways. For instance:

            http://www.foxnews.com/story/2008/05/16/president-bush-unable-to-win-saudi-support-on-gas-prices-oil-production/

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Yeah, Bush had no credibility. He would have been successful if he had announced plans for a coal to oil plant in the US instead he dithered on banning light bulbs and carbon capture coal boondoggles.

          • Ray in VT

            Yup, nothing to be gained from alternatives and efficiencies.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Coal to oil IS an alternative and given our coal reserves it is an alternative that strikes fear in the Saudis.

            I see no evidence that CCS will be anything other than a boondoggle.

            I use LED light bulbs but it wasn’t necessary or appropriate for the Feds to ban incandescents.

          • Omaha Guy

            I don’t actually have a response to this thread. But this thread is a sad representation of the Koch brothers.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Koch brothers?

            Hmmm, not sure how that plays. Oh, I like Nova and I’d like to thank David Koch for his funding. Thanks for reminding me.

          • Ray in VT

            Critics have contended that Nova has spent less time covering climate change since Koch money started to flow. Mission accomplished.

          • Omaha Guy

            yup

          • HonestDebate1

            What climate change?

          • Ray in VT

            The change that is currently going on.

          • HonestDebate1

            Nope, it’s just weather.

          • Ray in VT

            That changes too, as does the climate, unless you don’t believe in it. Informing yourself regarding the science would benefit you, if you could bring yourself to read the work of scientist.

          • HonestDebate1

            I’m not a weather denier but it’s not about me.

          • Ray in VT

            Yup, it’s just about your ridiculously uninformed opinions and your insistence upon repeating them ad nauseam.

          • HonestDebate1

            Let me introduce you to my African-American friend Mr. Kettle.

          • Ray in VT

            Watch out. I hear that he’s really prone to attacking white people. The New Century Foundation says so.

          • HonestDebate1

            Natural gas is a terrific and efficient alternative.

          • Ray in VT

            It certainly is one option in an all of the above strategy.

          • HonestDebate1

            I wish Obama had such a strategery.

          • Ray in VT

            Your wish was granted long ago.

          • HonestDebate1

            When he promised to put the coal industry out of business or when he imposed a moratorium on off shore drilling?

          • Ray in VT

            When did he do that? Is that a part of his revenge? I guess that after a major disaster isn’t the right time to take a step back and make sure that things are being done to minimize another one.

          • Omaha Guy

            Natural gas is not really an alternative, it simply is rearranging the chairs on the deck of the titanic of fossil fuels.

          • hennorama

            WftC — interesting.

            Any other transactional political bargains you’d like to see?

          • Ray in VT

            A blind eye to Chinese human rights abuses in exchange for cheap stuff has been a running one.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Holding hands for $70 oil is cheap date. It would help the world’s economy and also bankrupt Putin.

          • HonestDebate1
          • Ray in VT

            He just threw in his lot with race bating, anti-gay bigots like Jesse Helms, and one of the top party leaders seemed to think that America would be better if the states-rights southern conservatives, with their pro-segregation agenda, had won out in 1948. Bush seemed to like such a man just fine:

            http://www.cnn.com/2003/ALLPOLITICS/06/27/bush.thurmond/

            Really took that guy to task for what he did.

  • HonestDebate1

    In a sign of desperation Obama is now dangling Pollard to Israel. Pathetic. Obama will be remembered as the President who was handed the Arab Spring and handed it back. This is awful.

    • Ray in VT

      If only he had led during the Arab Spring and caused democratic, western leaning governments to spring into being. What a weakling for not doing so.

    • J__o__h__n

      The Arab Spring was a mess from day one. It wasn’t a gift. Mere elections are not enough for a democratic society.

      • HonestDebate1

        It was an opportunity lost.

        • jimino

          Walk us through that opportunity, will you?

          • Ray in VT

            Well, a real leader would have done something to cast off centuries of history and culture and make them good, western style democracies, like we did in Iraq.

          • HonestDebate1

            He’s not a helpless idiot despite your insistence.

          • Ray in VT

            Why again with Bush?

          • HonestDebate1

            Cute, you must be proud.

          • Ray in VT

            Not as proud as I would be if I could only get you to accept definitions from the dictionary or to admit that you cite racist groups to denigrate African Americans. Come on, you know it in your heart to be true.

          • HonestDebate1

            Even cuter.

          • Ray in VT

            I do what I can. Maybe I can get you to accept the that “costs of the ACA tripled” line didn’t come from the CBO, as it was a workup done by the Senate GOP.

          • HonestDebate1

            You lost that argument just like the dictionary thing and the unalienable thing. You had your ass handed to you time and time again. Let it go.

          • Ray in VT

            All lies. How do I know when you lie? When you post a comment is a good indication.

            Yet another sign of delusion. You either can’t or won’t admit how mind-numbingly wrong you are. By any chance did you get dropped on your head when you were young? I’m looking to discover the cause of your disability.

          • HonestDebate1

            Alrighty then.

          • Ray in VT

            Lies do not become the truth if you tell them enough times. Lies believed and repeated are still lies, and the speaker is a liar. The dictionary agrees.

          • HonestDebate1
          • jimino

            So, as usual, you have no idea what you’re talking about. That’s what I figured.

          • Ray in VT

            Indeed. How dare he try work with the government that got elected.

  • Oh bummer

    Is Obama still bowing down, or bending over, depending on how you look at it, to the despotic King Abdullah like he has in the past?

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    Please excuse this interruption but I’m curious how much media coverage Benghazi will get this week. Of course the Obama cover-up artists will continue to say this is just a GOP witch hunt or the American people don’t care or the NYTimes still says it was the Youtube video or “3 dead Americans, what difference does it make”.

    There is now reporting that documentation exists that the CIA station chief reported to his bosses that there were no protests BEFORE the Susan Rice debacle. More congressional testimony is scheduled this week.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/mar/31/cia-ignored-station-chief-in-libya-when-creating-t/

    • HonestDebate1

      They’ve been defending the lies with passion for years. Don’t expect that to change.

      • WorriedfortheCountry

        “Could you say that a little louder Candy?”

        • Ray in VT

          Yup, he did refer to the attacks as acts of terror the day after they occurred.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Yet we have this on Sep. 25th. Why would Joy even ask the question as if Hillary Clinton was making news?

            “On September 25, on ABC’s “The View,” interviewer Joy Behar asked Obama about a remark made by his secretary of state. “I heard Hillary Clinton say it was an act of terrorism. Is it? What do you say?”

            To that, Obama responded, “We’re still doing an investigation. There’s no doubt that (with) the kind of weapons that were used, the ongoing assault, that it wasn’t just a mob action. We don’t have all the information yet, so we’re still gathering it. But what’s clear is that around the world there’s still a lot of threats out there.”

          • Ray in VT

            Sounds like a reasonable, rational response to me.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            You ignored the point. Why is Joy asking the question if it was ‘settled’ that the regime was declaring this a terrorist attack?

            If there was clarity from the regime wouldn’t Obama act puzzled with Joy’s question.

          • Ray in VT

            What is this “regime” of which you speak? I think that Obama answered your question.

      • WorriedfortheCountry

        It is easier to get consistent, honest information out of the Malaysian government than the Obama regime.

      • Ray in VT

        Why are you bringing up the Bush Monster?

    • Ray in VT

      “One of the former intelligence officials said the Libya
      station chief’s assessment was being weighed against media reports from the ground in Benghazi that quoted witnesses as saying there had been a protest. Analysts at the CIA, the source said, also were weighing it against reporting by other intelligence divisions, including the National Security Agency.

      “The chief of station in Tripoli who was 600 or 700 miles away from the attacks wouldn’t necessarily have the only view of what actually went onin Benghazi,” that former official said.”

      More “breaking news” that has been known for some time.

      • anamaria23

        David Kirkpatrick, Cairo Bureau chief for the NY Times was on the ground the next day after the attack and spend 100 days investigating and interviewing. His report is easily accessed on line and should be considered reliable by Mr. Issa.

        • Ray in VT

          I don’t think that such things fit in with where Issa wants to go with this. That is my take. It’s also that these current revelations have been out there for a year or so. It’s just not news, and I expect little, if anything, new to come to light. I do expect some crowing and strutting and a few clip-worthy moments for cable news.

    • WorriedfortheCountry

      If the national media spends 1/10 the time covering Bengazi this week that they spent just this weekend on Christie’s ‘bridgegate’ that will be huge step forward.

      I’m not holding my breath.

      • Ray in VT

        How many debunked conservative lines, a la stand down order, do you think that they have time to cover? I’m sure that Fox will continue to beat those dead horses.

      • HonestDebate1

        Or even 1/100th.

    • Omaha Guy

      OMG… you are so behind the news. The overall consensus, even among citizens of Libya, is that certain agitators went too far. They killed our ambassador by accident. Nobody, even anyone in Libya, and the agitators themselves wanted to kill the beloved ambassador who everyone acknowledged was a friend of Libya.

      • WorriedfortheCountry

        Yeah, it is amazing when heavy mortars kill by accident. Who knew?

        • Omaha Guy

          Yes, the consensus is that those who killed the ambassador went too far. Even among the agitators, they knew they went too far. So far, that not even the United States predicted it.

          • HonestDebate1

            Stevens was begging for security but maybe Obama knew everything was peachy. So convinced was he that he had another drink and went to bed as Stevens’ body was paraded through the streets of Benghazi.

          • Ray in VT

            Yup, because the President makes decisions down to the level of diplomatic security. Please provide evidence for the President having a drink or for the body of Ambassador Stevens having been dragged through the streets. Perhaps the New Century Foundation has issued a “report”.

          • HonestDebate1

            Good point, maybe he didn’t have another drink because he was already passed out drunk. It’s the kindest narrative. I’ll err on the side of giving him the benefit of the doubt until someone, anyone, asks him where he was.

          • Ray in VT

            Please provide evidence, and not the wild speculation to which you are prone, like Obama blackmailing Petraeus to stay quiet.

          • HonestDebate1

            Who said I had evidence? Since Obama refuses to tell us we have to make assumptions. I am left to assume he is stupid beyond reason, apathetic to acts of war (murdering an ambassador is an act of war), grossly incompetent, purposely lying to further his political agenda at the expense of national security or merely passed out drunk. I am being kind.

          • Ray in VT

            Again, why do you keep bringing up Bush?

          • HonestDebate1

            I’m not, I rarely do. He’s irrelevant. Obama is the dictator in charge.

          • Ray in VT

            But you were talking about drunks and incompetence, so you must have been talking about Bush.

            Ah yes, Obama the dictator. Are you hurting today because ACA enrollments recovered from its early rollout problems?

          • HonestDebate1

            Recovered?! You just swallow your marching orders whole. It’s embarrassing.

          • Ray in VT

            Yes, it is embarrassing when you just spit out the right wing talking points as you often do. It is very sad indeed.

          • Omaha Guy

            You are behind the news of real evidence. Stevens did not ask for security, nor for an evacuation. Both Ambassador Stevens and the agitators made miscalculations of the situation. The death of Ambassador Stevens, a beloved figure among Libyans, was not the intention of the Benghazi event.

      • HonestDebate1

        Ansar al-Sharia is not a friend of Libya.

  • JONBOSTON

    The Saudi’s ,like much of the rest of the world , have shown nothing but contempt and disrespect for Obama. Latest was Obama’s effort last week to portray Putin’s phone call as some kind of vindication. Rather it was Putin mocking Obama and holding him up for ridicule as an impotent fool. Each week I keep asking myself , “How can it get any worse?” And each week I’m proven wrong.

    • Omaha Guy

      I suppose you would be proven worse each week. Each week President Obama seeks to avoid unnecessary war. He seeks negotiation before conflict, for real. So, I understand there are a lot of war scaremongers are upset that he hasn’t fallen to the temptation of war.

      • HonestDebate1

        He is inviting unnecessary war.

        • Omaha Guy

          no, he is not.

        • Ray in VT

          There you go bringing up Bush again.

          • Omaha Guy

            LOL you brought up Bush Jr again!!

          • Ray in VT

            Well, if we’re talking about unnecessary war….

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    The big question is will Saudi Arabia respond to Obama’s apparent inability to stop Iran’s nuclear ambition by developing their own nukes and starting a regional nuclear arms race?

    Not good.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    So what’s changed US-Saudi relationship? Guy in suit comes and pays court to guy in silk pajamas? One guy gets cheaper oil – other gets his butt kissed. Whatever works, ‘eh?

  • Ray in VT

    I think that the United States is going to get hammered on involvement either way. The Saudis are worried that we’re not involved enough (at least the royals), but much resentment exists towards the United States for its actions, either real or imagined, when it is more involved in the region.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Wild, wild horses
    Couldn’t drag me a-way.
    –Barack H. Obama {Saud court composer}

  • Omaha Guy

    If the Saudis can dictate war with Iran, then that will be the legacy of the Citizen’s United ruling.

    • Oh bummer

      Even without C.U., Obama seems pretty hell-bent on starting wars in the Middle East in order to help regimes with ties to al-Qaeda, take control.

      • Omaha Guy

        uh… “oh bummer” so off base… even the harshest critics, among the sane community, accuse President Obama of avoiding war.

        • Shag_Wevera

          Yeah, he’s way off on that one. Didn’t he get us OUT of the last two Bush/Cheney wars?

          • Omaha Guy

            That mess in Iraq and Afghanistan was quite deep. So, getting out of that mess was slower than we all hoped.

        • Oh bummer

          Obama is ‘avoiding war’? Where, on Mars? Obama is proving to be just as big a war-monger as Bush / Cheney, and like those two war criminals, Obama will be charged with war crimes, and have his day in court.

          • Omaha Guy

            okay, i don’t understand you. and, when i have been in chat arguments with more intelligent people who hate obama, they wont understand you neither. you might consider catching up with actual real events in life.

      • Ray in VT

        What wars in the Middle East has Obama started?

        • Omaha Guy

          none, but he has prevented quite a few

        • Oh bummer

          Libya and Syria, in union with al-Qaeda.

          • Omaha Guy

            Russia started those. Some more of Putin’s failures.

          • Oh bummer

            Wow, you’ve really over-dosed hard on Obama’s lies and propaganda.

          • Omaha Guy

            Putin is a failure. He had a simple task. Maintain bases in Syria and Crimea without creating enemies and alienating friends.

            Before Putin regained power, United States sentiment was that Russia had a legitimate case for those bases. Now we no longer have that consensus here. and, fake votes in crimea now call into question his own presidency in general.

            Putin is over playing his hand and risking war. Obama is the responsible adult keeping peace in a complicated world.

          • Oh bummer

            ‘Obama is the responsible adult’ (LOL!)
            Is that why the Obama regime is openly funding groups with links to al-Qaeda in Libya and Syria?

          • Ray in VT

            Please show that to be the case. It appears that we are supporting some rebels against other al-Qaeda linked rebels in Syria for instance, unless that is also just a part of the conspiracy.

          • Omaha Guy

            I flagged your hateful comment because you are spewing accusations faster than truth can catch up.

          • Oh bummer

            Oh, not that, please no.
            You just can’t deal with the fact that your President supports groups with ties to al-Qaeda in Libya and Syria, as well as the fact that Obama has continued the Bush policy of torture at Gitmo. Don’t fault me for Obama’s crimes.

          • Ray in VT

            Please provide evidence for those claims.

          • hennorama

            Ray in VT — as previously stated, you can expect “evidence” from sources in Montenegro, and websites that quote their own founders as if they were impartial experts.

            (This is the poster formerly known as the now-disappeared “Jay” and/or the now-disappeared and hilariously misnamed “Informed American.”)

            I know you know, but, yanno …

          • Ray in VT

            “Am I right or am I right? Or am I right? Am I right?” – Ned Ryerson.

          • Oh bummer

            Could that be why, former Obama supporter, Dr. Cornel West, is now calling a Obama a war criminal?

          • Ray in VT

            Because of Ned Ryerson?

          • Ray in VT

            Really? That must be more of a part of the conspiracy, considering the internal revolts there that ignited the conflicts. Please provide evidence of a “union with al-Qaeda”.

  • elle

    Am I the only one thinking that the Saudis have long played us, they have been supposed allies but have supported/bred radical Sunni terrorism

    • hennorama

      elle — no, you are not alone. In fact, you have a significant amount of company.

      • Oh bummer

        Nobody with any common sense would want to keep company with a bird-brain like you. All you ever do is repeat the lies and propaganda of the Obama regime like a trained parrot.

        • hennorama

          Hum ‘Em, Bro — Seriously, I do appreciate your continued comic stylings.

          Do you take your act on the road, and if so, how can one obtain tickets?

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    We can’t offer President Obama man-man sex – the honorable practice between lovers here in the kingdom. So we give him oil in exchange for his protection and affectionate attentions. It beats being totally abandoned by one’s lover.
    –Prince Turki al Giblets

  • Ray in VT

    I recognize that the Saudis have legitimate worries about their rival Iran potentially emerging from its current pariah status, but might they also be worried that they won’t be able to play off such threats to their own advantage. They have done pretty well regarding American aid over the years. Might they be concerned that such things might go away?

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Aide: Mr. President, why are you so dismissive of the kingdom?
    Obama; No decent golf courses.

    {it’s all sand traps}

    • Omaha Guy

      you seem mean hearted against obama, we get it. I love obama so it won’t work on me.

    • TFRX

      Trying to top “Now watch this drive” with made up quotes?

      Whatever, Sisyphus.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    The kingdom must love the idea of Obama releasing Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard in order to get the Israelis to the kiddies table for the Ramallah talks. These are the preliminary talks to get the talks at the adult table started.

    Imagine going to a poker game where only the senior guy in the room has to ante up. With no expectation that the game will actually be played! And the senior guy NEVER gets to share the pot if he “wins.”

    • Omaha Guy

      okay, now i have a better understanding of you. you seem to be a tool of someone. sorry, you are not qualified to chat with me, nor to post here.

      • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

        That’s for being the guy who gets to decide these things. Signed.. Vietnam-era Draftee/Veteran

  • Oh bummer

    With the signing of NDAA, and with the continuation of Bush’s torture and indefinite detainment against prisoners at Gitmo, Obama is the American version of King Abdullah, where torture and indefinite detainment is the norm.

    • Omaha Guy

      oh wow, now you are in the category of bearing false witness against your neighbor. sorry i will ask to have you removed.

      • Oh bummer

        Can’t handle the truth? Obama has continued Bush’s policies of torture at Gitmo, after he said he would close Gitmo if elected President.

        • Ray in VT

          Do you have proof of the continued use of torture at Gitmo? I think that his options for closing Gitmo have been severely limited by Congress.

          • HonestDebate1

            No one was tortured or even got a nasal rinse at gitmo.

          • Ray in VT

            It took you long enough today to stick up for torture.

          • HonestDebate1

            I did no such thing. I corrected your mistake. There was not torturing (or water boarding) to continue at Gitmo. You were wrong.

          • Ray in VT

            Please tell me where I said that there was torture at Gitmo. It’s easy to paint me as wrong when one ascribes to me points or statements that I did not make. The Center for Constitutional Rights certainly disagrees with you:

            http://ccrjustice.org/learn-more/reports/report:-torture-and-cruel,-inhuman,-and-degrading-treatment-prisoners-guantanamo-

          • Steve__T

            Remember who your feeding, he’s gonna take a swipe at you no mater what.

          • Ray in VT

            Oh, I am fully aware of what interaction entails.

          • jefe68

            He’s using the Bugs Bunny defense…

          • HonestDebate1

            You asked for proof he continued something that never existed. Focus.

          • Ray in VT

            I did ask for proof, and none has been provided for torture at Gitmo under Obama.

            The Center for Constitutional Rights disagrees with your crack assessment of the situation.

          • HonestDebate1

            Then take a position. Are you agreeing with them or are you still saying you didn’t say there was torture going on? Are hurt feelings torture?

          • Ray in VT

            I didn’t say that there was. I corrected my comments for clarity, as I was seeking to quote another commentator. Their assessment is that torture was going on there. I would have to read more to form an informed opinion. It is pretty clear that we did torture people at other locations under former President Bush, and at times we shipped people to places like Syria so that they could be mistreated there.

            Torture is torture, no matter how much you want to excuse it as a part of your ongoing Bush administration apology campaign.

          • HonestDebate1

            The word has been a synonym for the nasal rinse. Under the geneva convention hurt feelings can be considered torture. The word no longer has meaning, that;s why it’s used.

            Torture hurts, maims and leaves scars. No harm no foul.

          • Ray in VT

            Yup, just keep on defending that torture. Your attempts to define the term for the rest of the world are duly noted and dismissed as entirely irrelevant.

          • notafeminista

            John Yoo disagrees with you.

          • Ray in VT

            Yes, John Yoo, the author of the “torture memos”. I’m willing to bet that he would not be willing to say that he endorsed torture no matter how many were opposed. Would you admit to condoning or authorizing torture, especially if legal consequences were a possibility?

          • notafeminista

            Torture or SERE training? Mr. Yoo has made his case well and capably for over 10 years now. Are you suggesting he is lying or incompetent as a lawyer?

          • Ray in VT

            Oh, so we were training the terrorists? What for, pray tell?

          • notafeminista

            The alternative is the United States’ military has been torturing its members and recruits for however many years. Something no one cared about until it happened to a non-citizen.
            Can’t have it both ways.

          • Ray in VT

            If I intentionally hit myself with a hammer maybe I’m just dumb. If I intentionally hit you with a hammer then it is assault.

          • notafeminista

            If you intentionally hit yourself with a hammer you might also be suicidal or deliberately self-injuring.
            No one cared ’til it happened to a non-citizen….

          • Ray in VT

            And the two scenarios are legally different because of who is acting, in what situation and whether or not all parties are consenting.

            If our government was doing that to unwilling citizens, then I think that people would have cared about it as well.

          • notafeminista

            Ahhhh..that’s the distinction then? Whether or not someone is willing? If someone signed on to be a member of the US military and is waterboarded by his own country somewhere along the way, then it is acceptable. Do I understand correctly?

          • Ray in VT

            If you sign on the dotted line, then, to a certain extent, your behind belongs to Uncle Sam. That is different from grabbing someone off of the street and subjecting them to a treatment.

            You seem to be commenting upon this as some sort of revelation, while such a difference has been used for quite some time by those attempting to draw differences between the two situations.

          • notafeminista

            It might be why the attempts have failed thus far. No one from former President Bush’s administration has been brought up on any sort of serious charges (say at the ICC) charges for any sort of torture, real or imagined.
            It can’t be torture for one and not the other. No one cared until it happened to a non-citizen.

          • Ray in VT

            Considering that we don’t participate in the ICC and that President Obama basically said that we were going to leave all of that in the past it does not surprise me that nothing has been done.
            Yes it can. Perhaps you did not read my comment about the willingness of participation makes one thing legal and another a crime.

          • hennorama

            Ray in VT — exactly.

            Those undergoing the torture-acclimation training are willing volunteers, and the intent of such training is acclimation, and importantly, while the risk is real, safety is always considered, allowing the volunteers to take some psychological comfort in that the edge is unlikely to be exceeded.

            In the same way, many law enforcement recruits will voluntarily submit to Taser and other non-lethal techniques, in order to gain a better understanding of what someone on the “business end” of the techniques experiences.

          • HonestDebate1

            One of the 3 who was given the nasal rinse was grateful because it allowed him to talk as accepted by Allah.

          • Ray in VT

            Also the same guy who gave a green light to surveillance without warrants or court oversight of any type.

          • Oh bummer

            With a statement like that, you’re probably going to claim that the Palestinians being forced to exist in the Gaza Strip concentration camp, are living the good life.

      • Omaha Guy

        Yes, I have missed the fake news report of Obama “continuing the torture in Guantanamo”.

        • Oh bummer

          Fake news? You must mean MSNBC, CNN, and the NY Times that largely ignore Obama’s illegal drone attacks which have killed many innocent civilians.

    • hennorama

      Bum Homer — thanks. I had forgotten to add “signing of the NDAA” to your playlist.

      You really need to expand your routine, but the comic relief is appreciated nevertheless.

      • Oh bummer

        You’re President’s illegal drone attacks have killed innocent people around the Middle East, and you think that’s funny. You really are a bird-brain.

        • hennorama

          Mom Bur, He — still waiting for your answer to the now thriced-posed question:

          ” — are you an expert in international law?”

          • notafeminista

            Is that can of worms really going to be opened?

          • hennorama

            notafeminista — TYFYR.

            Are you going to be Just Asking Questions? If so, perhaps will you direct them elsewhere?

            Thank you again?

          • notafeminista

            No and no. Feel free to proceed as you wish. And thank you.

            (edit added) I do hope you (or anyone else) will have no difficulty answering any questions that may be posed by me (or anyone else) – since the concern for another poster to allow a question to go unanswered has now been noted.

          • hennorama

            notafeminista — thank you for your response?

            Did you ask a non-rhetorical question?

            Do you actually want an answer?

            What is this “can of worms” of which you wrote?

            Do you think the poster who started this thread is an expert in international law?

            If so, what is the basis for your thinking?

            Will you answer all of these questions?

            Should anyone wait for your response with baited [bated] breath?

          • notafeminista

            (chuckle) ….speaking of Just Asking Questions….
            I have no idea if he is an expert or not. Let us first begin by establishing what, at the very least, this board might consider an “expert” in international law.

          • hennorama

            notafeminista — TYFYR.

            One might say that each of those JAQing questions was as valuable as your original.

            If I must explain:

            -the individual to whom my question was first posed has repeatedly cited “You’re [sic] President’s illegal drone attacks…” without presenting any basis for a conclusion of illegality

            -this same individual, under the now-disappeared moniker [Jay], when asked to provide their most compelling evidence for yet another “Obama did it” claim, pointed to a website that quoted the founder of the website as if the founder was an impartial expert

            -the above items are the basis for the challenging rhetorical question posed

            Knowing “what … this board might consider an “expert” in international law” is not required for this individual to answer the question.

            Does that help you to more fully understand my comments?

            Will you be answering the other six questions posed to you?

          • notafeminista

            Nonetheless, it seems incumbent to establish first what criteria would be needed (at least for this board) to determine whether or not someone is an “expert” in international law. The query was made of a poster (implication being that he was not) so therefore, some standards must have been in mind when the query was made.
            (edit added) The answer is no – I will not be answering the other questions posed to me. But as always, thank you.

          • hennorama

            notafeminista — TYFYR.

            That makes eight unanswered questions now. This is curious in light of the point that you considered so important that it required an “(edit added).”

            Quoting you:

            I do hope you (or anyone else) will have no difficulty answering any questions that may be posed by me (or anyone else) – since the concern for another poster to allow a question to go unanswered has now been noted.

            As to your comment — it has been made moot, since my question has been answered. If you would like to propose “criteria [that] would be needed (at least for this board) to determine whether or not someone is an ‘expert’ in international law,” please feel free to do so.

            Thanks again for your response, and I look forward to all of your answers.

          • notafeminista

            Let us establish what criteria is needed by this board to be considered an “expert” in international law. As previously stated, since the query was made, some sort of standards must have been had in mind, no?
            And as always, thank you.

          • hennorama

            notafeminista — TYFYR, and YW.

            Please allow me to regiser my disappointment at your lack of response to my questions.

            Answering your, as is the usual courtesy:

            Anyone who is an expert, on virtually any specialized topic, will know it, as will anyone who is not an expert. Both will have their own standards, without any external imposition, and can readily answer the question posed.

            Again, please feel free to propose any criteria you care to.

          • notafeminista

            Very good then. Since you were one posing (really just parroting) the question of expertise, what would you find, to be acceptable. As previously stated, the one posing the question must have had some set of standards in mind – not knowing how the question would be answered.
            Coincidentally, one doesn’t have his “own standards” – by definition standards are not defined by the individual.
            And as always, thank you.

          • Oh bummer

            Cornel West: Obama a ‘war criminal’

            http://www.politico.com/story/2013/02/cornel-west-obama-a-war-criminal-87702.html

            I am not an expert in international law, but when the well respected Dr. West, calls Obama a ‘war criminal’, that charge carries a lot of merit.

          • hennorama

            Mom Bur, He – thank you for your response.

            I guess the third time is the charm.

            Not to put words onto your fingertips, but please allow an interpretation:

            Your claim is based not on your own expertise, but is based on the opinion of Dr. Cornel West, who, like you, is also not an expert in international law.

            Please correct any inaccuracies and misinterpretations.

            FYI, Dr. West was discussing what his co-host Tavis Smiley had described as a “license to kill,” referring to the Dept. of Justice White Paper that “sets forth a legal framework for considering the circumstances in which the U.S. government could use lethal force in a foreign country outside the area of active hostilities against a U.S. citizen who is a senior operational leader of al-Qa’ida or an associated force …”

            Here is a more complete quote of the exchange between Mr. Smiley and Dr. West:

            SMILEY: Any President now has the authorization, if you buy into this memo, to kill American citizens, in fact. Your thoughts on this so-called license to kill?

            WEST: I think, my dear brother, the chickens are coming home to roost. We’ve been talking about this for a good while, the immorality of drones, dropping bombs on innocent people, it’s been over 200 children so far. These are war crimes.

            I think we have to be very honest, let us not be deceived — Nixon, Bush, Obama, they’re war criminals. They have killed innocent people in the name of the struggle for freedom, but they’re suspending the law, very much like Wall Street criminals. The law is suspended for them, but the law applies for the rest of us. If you and I brother Tavis, if we killed an innocent person, we’d go to jail.

            So, we have Dr. West’s opinion, first about “the immorality of drones,” and not their legality, which he then follows up with his opinion that “these are war crimes.”

            And we have the DOJ White Paper, which addresses not “innocent people,” but instead “…a U.S. citizen who is a senior operational leader of al-Qa;ida or an associated force …” which concludes as follows:

            In conclusion, it would be lawful for the United States to conduct a lethal operation outside the United States against a U.S. citizen who is a senior operational leader of al-Qa’ida or an associated force of al-Qa’ida without violating the Constitution or the federal statutes discussed in this white paper under the following conditions: (1) an informed, high-level official of the U.S. government has determined that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States; (2) capture is infeasible, and the United States continues to monitor whether capture becomes feasible; and (3) the operation is conducted in a manner consistent with the four fundamental principles of the laws of war governing the use of force. As stated earlier, this paper does not attempt to determine the minimum requirements necessary to render such an operation lawful, not does it assess what might be required to render a lethal operation against a U.S. citizen lawful in other circumstances. It concludes only that the stated conditions would be sufficient to make lawful a lethal operation in a foreign country directed against a U.S. citizen with the characteristics described above.

            BTW, the DOJ White Paper is only 16 pages in length, and is a worthwhile read for anyone actually interested in the topic. No doubt you’re read it, since you’re demonstrably interested.

            See:
            http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/msnbc/sections/news/020413_DOJ_White_Paper.pdf

            http://www.mediaite.com/online/professor-cornel-west-obama-is-a-war-criminal-like-nixon-and-bush/

            [PS: Since you agree with Dr. West's opinion about President Obama, do you also agree with his opinion about Presidents Nixon and Bush?]

    • Omaha Guy

      Well. even though you reveal a weakness in our current legislative process, torture will not continue during a Democratic administration. But, the law will not forbid torture if a Republican is elected as president.

      • Oh bummer

        ‘Torture will not continue during a Democratic administration’. Do you actually believe the stuff you blog?
        People like yourself have given Obama’s illegal drone attacks that have killed innocent people in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen, a green light.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Saudis are right to be concerned if not outright worried about Obama actions. Not only is the president’s word not worth much, he changes his mind with the frequency of a teenage girl. Not a comfortable position for nations dependent upon his good will.

  • seszoo

    Are we supposed to feel sorry for the saudis? Should have been done with them a long time ago , But as always it’s been the money that talks and seems to have brought us a lot of trouble along with their so called cheap oil , Be done with them and let them fend for themselves. Our country might have a time of it ,but we’ll get on our feet and be better off with out them .

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Israel, Palestine, Lebanon – all too tiny to be sovereign, healthy, forward looking nations. Not enough dirt to go around for all the tent stakers.

    After all, none of them are Monaco! Or Lichtenstein.

  • ProtocolX

    I think we should have been done with Saudis (and Israel for that matter) long time ago. Saudi Arabia has spread more radicalism than any other country in the world. Now Saudi Arabia is worried because radicalism they have spread across Islamic world is coming back to haunt them a bit.

  • John_Hamilton

    This is an amusing conversation. “Saudi Arabia” is talked about as if it is some guy, a person who thinks this or that way, has desires and fears, frustrations and anger.

    Actually, all countries are pretend persons, impositions on the land by men, with durations that also depend on men. This particular country is an imposed monarchy that depends for its survival on external military support – from us, or at least our ruling elite and its ability to bestow armaments and soldiers.

    In the age in which we are entering the musical chairs of nationhood, or more accurately the shuffling of the deck, will depend on who (again, some guy-nation) emerges with the greatest advantage when global climate change comes to full fruition.

    In today’s conversation all participants are projecting out from current circumstances, but only the current circumstances that fit into establishmentarian limits. Global climate change is outside those limits, because no one has any answers, and ultimately an “expert” has credibility and worth to the degree that he (usually) can come across as the answer man.

    In other words, this conversation is largely meaningless. There is no stability of nations under conditions of global climate change. When economies worldwide collapse under the weight of natural disasters, there is no telling who will emerge as the most powerful, least powerful, and everywhere in between. The very existence of nations will likely become a historical footnote. One of these days we will be having this kind of conversation, but for now it is beyond the bounds of thinkable thought.

    • WorriedfortheCountry

      Have you moved away from the coast yet?

      • John_Hamilton

        What would make you think I live, or lived, near “the” coast? I live in Wisconsin, which has three coasts: Lake Michigan, Lake Superior and the Mississippi River. I’m not near any of them, except in relative terms.

        I realize that some people have nothing to offer but snark, but I answer them sometimes. I understand the psychology of snark. It’s called secondary gain, a psychological payoff from just being a nuisance.

        It usually applies to misbehaving children, but many “adults” never move beyond about age eight. It can usually be traced to some severe trauma that occurred at that age, the types we are hearing more about these days. Help is available.

        • WorriedfortheCountry

          Sorry but snark is an appropriate response to extreme alarmism. No charge for the reality check.

          • John_Hamilton

            Reality is in the mind of the beholder. Sorry is as well. And extreme alarmism.

            Which raises a question. What would moderate alarmism look like? Or mild alarmism? Tepid alarmism? Is alarmism a belief system, like conservatism? Maybe. They both are in the realm of pretend, similar to a child’s tea party. Hmm. Tea party. Maybe that’s where the idea came from.

            I wonder how one would charge for a “reality check..” Like the imaginary use of the term, the idea of “charging” for it is in the realm of the imagination.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Alrighty then. Perhaps it’s time to lace up the Hale-Bopp sneaks and drink the kool-aid.

          • jimino

            You apparently have survived it.

          • John_Hamilton

            Snarkers live by attention. They’re similar to annoying people you encounter on a daily basis – rude people, people who tailgate on freeways (for which there is an easy cure), blowhards in the workplace, bullies and attempted bullies (for which there is an easy cure), etc.

            This particular snarker is easy pickings. Most of them aren’t very bright, and this one is at the lower end of that mediocre spectrum.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            OK, let’s get this straight. So you can post a hyperbolic, over-the-top alarmist rant designed to get plenty of attention. Fine. But in Hammy-world getting called out — especially with snark is verboten. Apparently this also gives license to hurl further insults. Just checking so the rules are laid out clearly.

          • John_Hamilton

            I like the “Let’s get this straight” attempt to be in control. Again, accusations like “hyperbolic, over-the-top alarmist rant designed to get plenty of attention” are in the mind of the beholder. If one were to allow the beholder to determine what is “hyperbolic, over-the-top alarmist rant designed to get plenty of attention” and what is substantive observation, the dialogue is already ceded.

            These attempts to be in control are easy to defuse. All one need do is understand the mindset and methods of the snarker. Lacking in their own content, they instead try to change the subject to their distractions, diversions, fake metaphors, and name-calling.

            As above, try again. I’m retired. I have the time.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Ah, another pot-kettle-black post.

          • John_Hamilton

            I didn’t expect you to give up. You can come up with all the fake metaphors you want, but they will not put you in control. In other words, you are not getting what you want.

            Try again. I’m still here.

          • John_Hamilton

            Ahh. I remember previous “alrighty thens.” When all else fails.

            You can drink all the Kool-Aid you want, just remember that sugar is bad for you. Stevia extract is a good substitute.

            “Hale-Bopp sneaks?” What, por favor, might that be?

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            ” Stevia extract is a good substitute.”

            Have ya seen Breaking Bad? Walt agrees.

          • John_Hamilton

            No. I haven’t seen “Breaking Bad.” I suppose a reference to a TV show somehow proves something. I agree. It proves you watch a lot of TV.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            No, making a cultural TV reference does not “prove” I watch a lot of TV.

          • John_Hamilton

            O.K. It suggests you watch a lot of TV. Here, enjoy a song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oo4OnQpwjkc

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Fabulous but you could at least link to youtube labelled with the correct artist. Bobby McFerrin will thank you.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yv-Fk1PwVeU

          • John_Hamilton

            “Correct artist?” I like Bob Marley. As in everything else you’ve attempted, correct is in the mind of the beholder.

            Still trying to be in control, I see. Still failing. This is fun, as usual.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            You may like Bob Marley but since he died in 1981 and Bobby McFerrin didn’t release “Don’t worry, Be Happy” until 1988….

            Correct is in the eye of the beholder only if you light up one of Marley’s cigar size joints. :0

          • John_Hamilton

            Yuk. This is what changing the subject has come to. I like the video with pictures of Bob Marley.

            I like Bobby McFerrin, from neighboring Minnesota, but I like Bob Marley more. Here’s a rendition of one of his songs. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLROI6izeIQ

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” — you are simply a victim of a youtube knucklehead. Could happen to any of us.

          • John_Hamilton

            I refuse to accept victimhood. De nada. I was merely playing off your worrying username. Using a real metaphor is as easy as spotting a fake one. You missed it completely, like the proverbial novel “Hole in the Mattress.”

          • John_Hamilton

            Key of E.

          • John_Hamilton

            Here’s a song with a similar sound. Same key – E. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oH8u9PxWJo

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            You might be too young to remember the Heavan’s Gate cult that committed mass suicide in anticipation of the ‘apocalyptic’ arrival of the Hale-Bopp comet.

            http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2120869/Heavens-Gate-cult-committed-mass-suicide-15-years-ago.html

          • John_Hamilton

            I actually met a group from Heaven’s Gate back in 1994. They were recruiting people around the country to join them in their departure from Planet Earth. I was invited to observe their “presentation.”

            The one thing I remember about this group is their absolute certainty that what they said was the truth. They had the wide-eyed innocence of the true believer. Kind of like the “right-wing” zealots of today. Or religious zealots. Or “right-wing” religious zealots. The worst of them believe in the “End Times,” when the believers will all be transported to some pie-in-the-sky, while everyone else will be consumed in earthly hell-fire.

            So “Hale-Bop sneaks” would be an attempt to create a metaphic connection between the shoes worn by the Heaven’s Gate mass suicide participants and, hmm, me.

            Nice try. It’s about as good as your previous nice tries. Global climate change is already happening, and, in case you missed it, the major story in yesterday’s news (nytimes.com/2014/04/01/science/earth/climate.html).

            I’m not the first person with a background in Economics to conclude that our economic system is unsustainable. The most prominent is Herman Daly (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herman_Daly). The conclusion is based on evidence and where that evidence leads.

            So, try again. This is fun, as it has been before.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Are you a fan of Paul Ehrilch?

            Global climate change? Yup. The climate has always been changing. We’ve been in a warming trend since the end of the little ice age. Fortunately, it is a warming trend. Nothing to be alarmed about. In fact, some benefits. A cooling trend would have a much larger impact on humanity.

          • Ray in VT

            So it is a good thing that Patrick Michaels’ prediction of statistically significant cooling from 1998 to 2007 was totally off base?

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Second time in a week you’ve brought up this prediction. I’m still not familiar with it. And why should I care?

          • Ray in VT

            I’m just wondering how much credence to give to the sort of “skeptics” who make such statements, as well as the people with whom they associate or collaborate, given the seemingly baseless nature of the claim based upon the available evidence.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Answer: not much credence to either warmists or skeptic predictions.

            He made this prediction in 1997? Well, climate scientists didn’t know how much they didn’t know back then. Seems like he was closer than some of the other predictions for accelerating increase in temperatures with increasing CO2 emissions.

          • Ray in VT

            I think that ignoring predictions based upon sound scientific principles and just waiting around to see what happens isn’t such a great idea, unless you are aware of some breakthrough research that indicates that increasing levels of various greenhouse gases will not impact temperatures.

            It seems that temperature increases have been in the range of estimates for many or most of the models. It’s closer than statistically significant decline.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            When they start improving their accuracy I’ll pay more attention. First they have to do better with the 5 day forecast.

          • John_Hamilton

            I see you found a couple of recruits to approve your nonsense. The five day forecasts around here are pretty good.

            And of course its a different subject. Weather and climate are two different things, though climate change is reflected in weather.

            I suspect the five day forecasts in your area are also pretty good. It’s an urban myth that weather predictions are meaningless. They just tend not to be 100% accurate.

            The future is hard to predict because it hasn’t happened yet. Still, we can approximate the future based on known cause and effect. The greenhouse effect, for example, has been proven through exhaustive research. When you keep adding carbon dioxide in a closed system with solar energy continuous and unmitigated, the system heats up. In a life-supporting ecosystem the result is breakdown of the system.

            Yuk. You can snark all you want, which you have done, but it is dishonest and pointless, unless one considers emotional payoff a point worthy of pursuit. It is in the realm of Maslow’s lower needs, also known as deficiency needs. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow's_hierarchy_of_needs

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Climate is just an integration of weather over long periods of time.

            Yes, the greenhouse effect is real. However, when you pay climate researchers (see the UN IPCC) to only look at CO2 when there are so many other variables to the climate you get … well…. the poor results apparent to all that are willing to open their eyes.

            I’ll leave you with this gem (and there are many to choose from) from the great physicist Freedom Dyson:
            “The problem, said Dyson, is that the consensus is based on those computer models. Computers are great for analyzing what happened in the past, he said, but not so good at figuring out what will happen in the future. But a lot of scientists have built their careers on them. Hence the hatred for dissenters.”

          • John_Hamilton

            Freedom Dyson? Haven’t heard of the guy. I have heard the argument. Computer models are indeed projections of the future based on the past, and extrapolations of sea level rises, Polar ice cap melting, storms, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, forest fires, droughts, lowering of water tables, breatheability of air, insect populations, soil erosion, and premature deaths based on the worsening of these trends at carbon dioxide levels increase.

            Though these supposedly meaningless computer models have their limitations, they are not useless just because they are computer models. That would make all computer models useless, and there would be no reason to have computers.

            Maybe computer model critics would be convinced if all the calculations were done with pencil and paper. I doubt it. We’re dealing with religious writ here, and the scripture in the status-quo bible says that climate change is a hoax.

            And, last but not least, the paranoid victimization model that “right wingers” are so wedded to. “Hence the hatred for dissenters.” There may be frustration with climate change deniers, even anger, but hatred is a projection from within the minds of the beholders, of which there are many. Imputing hatred to others is the kind of extrapunitive personality trait characterizes people who themselves are hateful. All one need to is watch Fox News for a short while, and the hatred comes spewing out.

            So again, nice try. I see some improvement, but still fundamentally flawed and snark-based. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Freeman Dyson (sorry for mangling his name earlier) is a brilliant man. We would do well to pay head as his mentor was none other than the great Richard Feynman.

            Here is another wise musing from Dyson on modern climate science:

            “…there’s only one subject that I’ve been controversial, which is climate. I spend maybe 1 percent of my time on climate, and that’s the only field in which I’m opposed to the majority. Generally speaking, I’m much more of a conformist, but it happens I have strong views about climate because I think the majority is badly wrong, and you have to make sure if the majority is saying something that they’re not talking nonsense.

            What I’m convinced of is that we don’t understand climate, and so that’s sort of a neutral position. I’m not saying the majority is necessarily wrong. I’m saying that they don’t understand what they’re seeing. It will take a lot of very hard work before that question is settled, so I shall remain neutral until something very different happens.”

          • John_Hamilton

            Just from what’s up there, it’s no wonder I never heard of the guy. He’s not a very good writer, and doesn’t really say anything. He doesn’t believe climate change is happening and that the majority is wrong. That’s no better than Bill O’Reilly or Glenn Beck.

            Just saying you don’t believe in something doesn’t make it so, and saying we don’t understand climate doesn’t represent truthfully what scientists have studied and learned. The greenhouse effect is scientifically testable and replicable. The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is measurable.

            Correlations have been established between temperature rises, rising sea levels, melting glaciers, melting Polar ice caps and a number of other factors with increased CO2 levels. As anyone who has studied statistics knows, correlation does not mean causation, but it has been established that the greenhouse effect indeed does cause these effects. Correlation is useful in supporting other evidence.

            This was a better try, but only one level above snark. See if you can go two levels. Here’s a song, and yes, I know it’s not the original group that did the song that’s shown in the picture: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1q0LNb8irA

          • Ray in VT

            Check with a weatherman if you want the weather, and not a climate scientist.

          • John_Hamilton

            You err when you try to engage a snarker in a genuine dialogue. That’s not what they engage for. They are all about changing the subject with trash talk, changing the subject, and trying to pull you into their world of nonsense. It’s a psychological needs fulfillment effort. If they can pull you in, they feel their lives have meaning. It’s not much of a life, but, hey, they take what they can get.

          • John_Hamilton

            I missed this. Fan of Paul Ehrlich? I haven’t seen that name in a while. If I remember right, his big concern has been population growth. I include that in the overall problem of infinite growth on a finite planet. Because a critical mass hasn’t been reached yet is not evidence that it will not be reached.

            The climate change that climate scientists are researching is the man-made variety, and what it bodes for the future, pretty close to my own view – that our structurally rigid system is unable to exist in such a circumstance, especially under the imperative of infinite growth.

            Part of the structural impediment is people who are so wedded to the perceived status-quo that any recognition of the need to change the way we exist on Planet Earth is unthinkable. Change is on the way, weddedness to the the status-quo or not. It is knocking at your door. One of these days it won’t wait for you to answer.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Status-quo? As human society advances the status-quo crumbles.

            Since you are concerned with the risks of human CO2 emissions, do you agree with ex-NASA climate scientist James Hansen and Greenpeace founder Patrick Moore that aggressive deployment of advanced nuclear power generation is a mandatory to continue with a prosperous society while protecting the climate?

          • John_Hamilton

            Another bogus question. The rear-guard, snarky climate change denying subculture is a fringe of the status-quo – the change-resisting power structure of the wealthy, corporations, Wall Street, and in the noise-o-sphere, people who for their own lower needs fulfillment quest, identify with this power structure. I have known many of them. They fit a pattern.

            As for nuclear power, nice attempt to change the subject. It’s too dangerous, and the waste problem is unsolvable. Your two references believe it is our only hope for continuing our infinite-growth socio-economic system on a finite planet forever. It only would buy a little time, and as we are seeing in Japan, buying time has its costs.

            Again, nice try. It looks like you might have consulted someone else on this one. Keep trying. Consult whomever you want. You are now on the path of substance. There is no turning back.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Ah, I see you are an amateur profiler.

            Nuclear is not a distraction. The data says nuclear is safe and the waste issue is over blown. The entire volume of all the waste produced by the entire history of US commercial nuclear power can fit in average size Best Buy warehouse. Gen IV reactors like LFTR can burn this waste as fuel and reduce the volume by 90%. And best of all they are passively safe and no containment building is required.

            But the nuclear question is useful to expose carbon enviro-nut hypocrites because nuclear is the only scalable, affordable carbon free energy source available today. However, I sense you are not the typical enviro-nut. The finite resource question is very interesting and important. One thing is very clear; central planning will never solve it no matter how many nickel pop bottle deposits the central planners come up with.

          • John_Hamilton

            It took all day, but you finally saw the light. Snark wasn’t getting you anywhere, so an attempt at substance was the only option left.

            What I said about the nuclear power red-herring was that bringing it up after all else has failed is an attempt to change the subject, for the umpteenth time.

            It would be interesting to see where you found “the” data. “The” data is actually someone’s data, and that someone is in all likelihood on the payroll in one way or another of the nuclear industry.

            More to the point about nuclear power, you are presenting it as the horn of plenty, the tree of life that will provide us with an infinity of goods and services infinitely.

            That is a perpetual motion machine argument, which has been trotted out periodically in Kondratiev fashion. Like religion, belief in perpetual motion is in the realm of magical thinking.

            Congratulations, though, on attempting substance. You likely found it more invigorating than snark,the part about the pop bottle deposits notwithstanding. Old habits are hard to break. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perpetual_motion

          • notafeminista

            What “structurally rigid system” are you talking about? The Earth?

          • John_Hamilton

            Finally a smidgeon of content. Not content offered, but content challenged. The challenge is of course bogus. A normal literate person would be able to discern from a sincere reading that the system referred to is our infinite-growth socio-economic system on a finite planet.

            I’ll repeat in case it hasn’t sunk in, or, in knee-jerk fashion, you are looking for another way to change the subject. A normal literate person would be able to discern from a sincere reading that the system referred to is our infinite-growth socio-economic system on a finite planet.

            I invite you to say something about our infinite-growth economic system on a finite planet, and how you can provide a substantive argument, supported by evidence, that indeed, our infinite-growth system can grow forever.

            Forever means that some day the economic output will be greater than the size and weight of the planet. Maybe you have an argument that, like the proverbial loaves and fishes, we can just keep extracting resources infinitely, and they will just keep multiplying, making the planet bigger every day.

            This should be the most fun of all.

          • Alchemical Reaction

            Actually, factoring in Binary and Ecological Economics, and currently shelved R&D technology projects, the economy could grow sustainably and indefinitely. The problem isn’t the logical fallacy of conflict between infinite growth vs finite resources. The problem is the assumption that Keynesian economics and conventional fiscal policy is the only way to go. Nature provides services in addition to raw materials, for example.

          • John_Hamilton

            Ahh, the old services argument. I first heard it in 1974. It hasn’t changed. Something people focused on numbers are unable to consider is how served a person could be. Could a human being be infinitely served?

            Even for economists that would entail a contradiction. According to isoquant theory (leaving the snarkers far behind), a person would reach higher levels of “indifference” until finally reaching a “bliss point,” after which no increasing satisfaction could be had.

            Projecting growth into the future indefinitely is in the realm of magical thinking, which is what supposedly rational intellectuals accuse religionists of. Indeed, economists see themselves as the high priests of the mass industrial system, capitalist or otherwise. They are all infinite-growth systems within a larger industrial model.

            As we have seen with various religionists, having a priesthood does not make the religion real. It just makes it “official,” enabling the power and privilege, as well as income and wealth that accrue to the anointed ones.

            Nice try, though. You didn’t snark, which is refreshing. Tom Ashbrook should be conducting such a dialogue. Some day.

          • notafeminista

            How do you know the economic output will be greater than the size and weight of the planet? We don’t know what will happen tomorrow.

          • John_Hamilton

            Another third-rate snarker. You guys are making worried man look good. He’s not going to like being outdone.

          • notafeminista

            “Snarker” is not defined as incorrect. Ehrlich was wrong, Malthus was wrong, Mann was wrong. It says something when in the face of such evidence – peer reviewed even, that one still feels the need to control others’ behavior.
            This has nothing to do with climate change. This is about man’s arrogance.

          • John_Hamilton

            This is an improvement. Mistaken, though. Malthus’s analysis is still pertinent. Technological changes have pushed the clock back, but those changes, like pesticides, herbicides and inorganic nitrogen fertilizer come at a heavy price for the future. Here’s something you might want to look at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/23/opinion/bittman-now-this-is-natural-food.html?hp&_r=0

          • notafeminista

            What clock? It isn’t the science to which I object it is the certainty with which it is proclaimed. For people who claim to embrace science and rationality, you expect an awful lot to be accepted on faith.
            Speaking of pesticides (in addition to Malthus, Ehrlich and Mann) you also ended up being wrong about DDT. Sub-Saharan Africa thanks you.
            Chernobyl was arguably one of the worst environmental disasters of the 20th century and yet Russia didn’t cease to exist, the town didn’t even ceast to exist.
            It is the certainty you proclaim to which I object.

          • John_Hamilton

            The use of metaphor bears certain risks when read by those who are unable to recognize a figure of speech. Technological “improvements” have enabled the mass human system on this planet to extend out longer than it would have otherwise.

            These technological improvements only postpone the inevitable, and also create hitherto unknown problems: massive toxic waste, adulturated food, cancer-causing consumer products, and, most importantly, exhaust gases from the burning of fossil fuels.

            I find it amusing that you would object to “certainty” in the scientific community in regard to climate change. When I hear climate scientists’ warnings about CO2 emissions, I don’t reflexively react to “certainty,” but listen for their explanations of why they are warning us about the peril of inaction.

            The amusing aspect is that for some reason, “right-wingers” reflexively react to climate change warnings with bluster, rancor and silly arguments. The only “scientific” evidence they accept is bogus science funded by the fossil fuel industry or crackpot science that when put under scrutiny has no basis in fact.

            This is the comment section of a website for a radio show. It isn’t a place where the disagreement about climate change is going to be settled. I have gone about as far as one can go to refute the dishonest and deranged arguments spewed by people with highly questionable motives from deep in their unconscious, and, of course, in some cases money motives.

            For people who are resisting the scientific evidence of climate change, they will have to become increasingly frantic over time as the climate-induced environmental effects increase in both incidence and severity. When someone so ego-dominated becomes increasingly vehement as perceived ego threats intensify, health problems – mental and physical – ensue. You can choose not to be one of them.

          • notafeminista

            And there is the “certainty” of which I speak. To repeat for those with obvious reading comprehension impairments, it is not the science to which I object. Rather it is the arrival at a foregone conclusion that no one can predict that is objectionable.
            You have no idea who will or won’t become frantic overtime – no one does, nor for what reason. It is however, so much easier to declare the world is ending and then demand the world conform to said declaration.
            Talk about ego-dominated.

          • Alchemical Reaction

            The best “sugar” is Xylitol & Erythritol, the sugar alcohols. They have the lowest glycemic index and taste the most like actual sugar. Stevia tastes like cough syrup.

          • John_Hamilton

            There’s no accounting for taste. Stevia can be challenging, but there are things you can supplement it with, like nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, carob, cardamom, chocolate. For millions who can’t consume sugar for health reasons, Stevia is better than nothing.

          • Alchemical Reaction

            But Stevia is NOT better than Xylitol! Perhaps you should read a post before responding to it. I said, Xylitol has the lowest glycemic index. Only alcoholics should potentially avoid it – and that is only because it can trick the brain into thinking you are consuming alcohol. The level of actual alcohol in it is infinitesimally small, trace amounts. The taste of Stevia is revolting. Yes, you can mask it. But the fact remains, as a sugar substitute for most people and most food and beverage products, NOTHING beats Xylitol.

          • John_Hamilton

            Revolting is in the mind of the beholder. The fact remains that everyone is an individual, and individual responses to various foods are their own.

            I’ll ask at the food coop about Xylitol. We have probably the best coop in the U.S. here in Madison, with a lot of expertise among the staff.

            I have to avoid sugar due to a condition I developed from taking a statin for moderately high cholesterol. The stuff is poison (Simviastatin), and put me in intense pain from head to toe.

            I weaken every so often, and buy honey in bulk. It tastes great, but causes problems.

            Anyway, I might try xylitol. First I’ll ask someone I trust.

          • Alchemical Reaction

            Some people have refined palettes. Others do not.

          • John_Hamilton

            Some people are arrogant about the silliest things. Refined. Yikes. The normal human response to circumstances is to do what works. I wonder. Would a refined palette contain alcohol? Or maybe it is extruded rather than refined. Or extruded after being refined. I suppose it depends on the refinery. Maybe it’s just fermented.

          • Alchemical Reaction

            A few years ago a kid was pulled over by a Colorado state trooper. the kid easily blew past the legal limit on blood alcohol content, and was arrested with a DUI.
            The kid claimed he had drank no alcohol that night whatsoever, and maintained his story until the cops actually started listening.

            Finally, they asked him, if you weren’t drinking alcohol, where were you and what were you drinking?

            The kid replied, “I was at the oxygen bar drinking Kombucha, which is a Chinese fermented tea.”

            The oxygen bar was subsequently raided and slapped with a charge for serving alcohol to minors, because they had fermented their tea so long it became a spirit.

            The result of this strange situation, is that even though commercially produced Kombucha contains only trace amounts of alcohol, less than .01 percent, most states now require you to be 21 to buy the bottled tea.

          • RobertLongView

            Can you prove that “The True Believers” are NOT riding the tail of the comet as we speak — one with the almighty programmer extraordinaire.

          • John_Hamilton

            When worried man sees these snarks he’s going to feel outdone. I wonder if you have ever tried your approach to discourse in a college classroom. I suspect not, for a couple of reasons, which you already know.

          • RobertLongView

            Or a costume party with firecrackers, powder horns and tricorn party hat favors.

          • John_Hamilton

            Wow. Lower than worried man. That takes some doing. Or a vacuum of doing, sort of like antimatter. You make him look relatively good.

        • John_Hamilton

          I forgot to mention Wisconsin’s fourth coast, the St. Croix River. It isn’t as big as the other three, but a coast nonetheless. No other state has as many coasts. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXhjl8Yf2sU

    • RobertLongView

      RasPutin has already declared that Russia will benefit from climate change.

      • John_Hamilton

        I see worried man has a nighttime tag team partner. What I replied to him applies to you as well, which is basically that snarkers look for an emotional payoff by being a nuisance, with nothing of value to offer. They exist at the low end of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow's_hierarchy_of_needs

  • notafeminista

    As a great many are fond of pointing out, a number of the 9/11 suspects were Saudi in background. Additionally a great many felt that the United States brought 9/11 upon itself- only to have former President George Bush further degrade any respect the United States might have upon the global stage. Given this information, and knowing that the United States has furthered some extremists’ cause by its action, why wouldn’t the United States want to re-gain the confidence of the Saudis?

    • Ray in VT

      I think that the Saudis are problematic partners at best, given the domestic policies of the Saudi government, especially regarding support of Wahabbi ideology. Whereas I think that we shouldn’t alienate the Saudis, as they can be useful in pursuit of our interests, I also don’t think that we should too closely tie our interests to them, as those interests may conflict at various points.

      • notafeminista

        So. As a self-interested and rational state, you think it would be preferable for the United States to maintain civil ties with the Saudis, if not to gain their confidence back outright.

        • Ray in VT

          Yup, but I don’t want to have our policies beholden to them beyond where it is in our interest to do so.

          • notafeminista

            Fair point. What would be an example of such?

          • Ray in VT

            If their interest is in keeping Iran as an international pariah in order to maintain their position, and perhaps that of Sunni Islam, in the Middle East, and we see the possibility to improve relations and address some outstanding issues that we have with that nation, then I think that we should be wary of the position of the Saudis, while recognizing that they do have some legitimate concerns.

          • notafeminista

            I’m not convinced the Saudis’ desire to keep Iran an international pariah has anything to do with religion. Iran has some pretty unsavory policies of its own, some of which might not be in the Saudis’ self interest.

          • Ray in VT

            Indeed, but I think that the Sunni/Shiite issue has some relevance in the politics both within and between nations in the region.

          • notafeminista

            You might. I might. But do they?
            Let’s assume Iran becomes the power they dream to be. Regardless of religions, that would probably have a significant effect on the (constantly waxing and waning) stability of the region.

          • Ray in VT

            It seems pretty clear to me that the issue of religious tensions within Islam play a role. Look at the strife between the two major groups in Iraq since 2003 or the issues in Syria, where various groups have been played off against each other for years.

            Iran, I think, wants stability, but on its terms, with it having a significant role. I don’t think that regional instability is much in their interest. For instance they are attempting to maintain the status quo in Syria, while Saudi Arabia has attempted to influence events there as well. If we assume these two states to be the most dominant players in the region, as Turkey is a bit geographically removed, Iraq is a mess and Egypt has its own issues at present, then some sort of instability may be in store if one is looking to alter the state of things. However, that need not be the case. It depends upon the actions and intent of the actors.

          • notafeminista

            Agreed. But would it be more in the interest of the US to have the intent of the Saudis or the Iranians? It also seems short-sighted to even entertain Iran’s wishes at the expense of the Saudis.

          • Ray in VT

            You seem to be assuming that it has to be an either or. It may be possible to find a middle ground whereby we are not being used as a tool of one nation’s policy versus another, as some may see us being at present.

            I don’t much care for the motives of either, considering Saudi support of extremist ideology.

          • notafeminista

            You keep talking about Saudi support of extremist ideology – all being relative. What do you think about Iran’s state policies?
            Given your previous statement about Iran’s wishes, do you really think they (the Iranian goverment) want to find middle ground?

          • Ray in VT

            I don’t like their policies either, but we ostracize one and turn a blind eye to the other.

            I think that many in the religious leadership do not likely want to find any sort of middle ground. However, sanctions have harmed the Iranian economy, and the public there seems to be more open to the West, somewhat generally, than the leadership. I think that there could be an opening to work there. We should just be willing to give it a shot and be wary of Saudi’s desire to protect their interests if they conflict with our interests.

          • notafeminista

            But it is the leadership who speaks for the people. The United States Department of State or any presidential administration does not engage in conversations or negotiations with the man in the street. With whom is the United States supposed to work?
            By your admission, both the Saudis and the Iranians engage in….less than desirable state policies. Why should the United States be willing to work with either of them?

          • Ray in VT

            However the opinion on the street can very well affect the positions of leaders. The Iranian leadership knows the hardships that sanctions have created for its people. Hardships can breed unrest, and I don’t think that they want that, so they may be willing to deal in order to head off domestic unrest.
            Why should we be willing to work with either of them? Because sometimes it is in our interests to deal with people with whom we disagree, and perhaps we can use those interactions in order to leverage changes that we see as beneficial. Just flat out ignoring or refusing to interact with nations doesn’t seem like a great option to me.

          • HonestDebate1

            Obama basically told the Iranian citizens to go pound sand in 2009.

          • Ray in VT

            If only he had said something, then the people could have risen up and taken down the Islamic Republic. I’m sure that there’s no downside to the President of America coming out supporting a group in a place like Iran. Your cartoonish notion of the power of American Presidents is again noted.

          • HonestDebate1

            A little support is to a lot to ask for. This may have been avoided without a bullet fired. The president is not a helpless idiot.

          • Ray in VT

            Indeed he isn’t. Bush is gone. Why bring him up again?

          • HonestDebate1

            You’ve become nothing but a troll. You are not a serious person.

            http://onpoint.wbur.org/2014/03/28/russia-obama-putin-francis-hobby-lobby#comment-1314739437

          • Ray in VT

            Thank you for taking the time to take a step back, give yourself an serious look and honestly report on what you see in the mirror. Your earnest self-assessment is duly noted.

          • notafeminista

            It is so true to say that sanctions can create hardships for a population. It’s difficult to understand why a leadership engaging in behavior that provokes sanctions wouldn’t either 1)stop engaging in that behavior or 2)at least modify that behavior, perhaps working to find some common ground.
            Of course on the other hand, if a leadership engages in said behavior, perhaps it provoked sanctions deliberately – leverage can worth both ways. If one needs the US to be the “Great Satan” – then what better way than to say it is the US who is creating these hardships – and thus breed unrest – not against itself of course, but against the “Great Satan”. And the notion of the US being intransigent, greedy and cruel can be fed by others as well.

          • Ray in VT

            That is very true. Sometimes leaders to engage in actions that bring hardships upon their people. Sometimes perhaps they don’t care or they think that they can manage the consequences, which they may not see as likely to occur in the first place.

            I think that we do serve as a useful foil for the Iranian leadership, and we could very well be blamed for hardships that sanctions cause. That is a strategy that could be employed, but I think that such a tactic can be a dangerous game, as it could end up backfiring on the leadership if enough people don’t hoe the party row.

          • notafeminista

            The leadership has already demonstrated what it will do with those who don’t hoe the party row – and continues to do so.
            Successful revolution never comes from without, (meaning external influence) – it always comes from within. And keep in mind, the Islamic Republic of Iran came about as a result of the only successful religion based revolution in the 20th century. Iranians aren’t going to let that go.
            (edit added) – I’m not sure it is in the best interest of the United States to be a “useful foil” for that kind of mindset. The advantage escapes me.

          • Ray in VT

            There comes a point, though, when oppression can only do so much. It would be wise for them to assent to some level of reforms, which the Iranian people seem to want. That does not mean that they will do it, but it would be wise.

            The 1979 revolution was not “religion based”. There was pretty broad opposition to the Shah, who only came to power because we backed the overthrow of a democratically elected government in the early 1950s. It was not just religious elements, but moderate and secular ones as well. The religious hardliners were just able to take over in the wake of the Shah’s fall.

            True, the Shah was more inclined towards favoring the West, and he was hated for many of the things that he did to his people. I think that it is likely that some anti-western sentiment in Iran can be attributed to him having been seen as a tool of the West, combined with how he treated his people. If he was in bed with the West, and he abused the people, then many could conclude that the West supported the abuses that he carried out.

          • notafeminista

            The fall of the Shah was preceded by a push from religious hardliners – it was not a revolt of the common people. Even though the Ayatollah was in Paris he had a significant number of supporters not only in Iran but elsewhere as well. It wasn’t by chance he became the leader of Iran after the Shah was deposed. Here is where consideration of religion becomes a factor. Iran is Shiite and overall a minority in the Muslim world (Sunnis v. Shiites) – it would be a significant accomplishment for Shiites to have a successful revolution and flourish.
            It is unlikely there were moderate and secular factions supporting the Ayatollah in any significant numbers, because they would have been, by definition, more liberal than the religious hardliners.

          • Ray in VT

            Discounting the opposition and role of non-religious, or even non-radically conservative, groups is a mistake, and the outcome was in no way assured at the outset. Just as with the Arab Spring events are complicated and fluid. Some appeared to give at least some support to Khomeini because he didn’t come right out and say that we wanted to institute a theocracy.

          • notafeminista

            There’s no discounting – the Ayatollah made no secret of his wish for an Islamic state – as I said there may have been those who supported him because he didn’t use the word theocracy, but they would not have been in signficant numbers. More likely there were those who did not support either – the Shah or the Ayatollah.
            And you’re right – there would have been no telling who could have filled the power vacuum left by the Shah, but the hardliners made sure it was them. They had the numbers, they had the press and they had the sympathies of a big chunk of the west. Could we “know” for sure? Of course not. Could we make a pretty good educated guess? You bet.

          • Ray in VT

            That is the beautiful thing about hindsight. It is always 20/20.

          • notafeminista

            I wasn’t talking about current times.

          • hennorama

            Ray in VT — the enemy of my frenemy is my enemy?

  • Arkuy The Great

    Lost in this whole discussion is another development that scares the House of Saud as much as a potentially nuclear Iran. That is the prospect of North America ceasing to be a crude oil customer and, possibly, becoming a competing exporter. Aside from the domestic energy boom reducing dependency on imported crude from the Persian Gulf it also starts the much overdue process of marginalizing the KSA from its prior diplomatic status (as well as other autocratic petro-states around the world). The more we are self-sufficient the less important they become as the strategic “swing” producer.

  • pete18

    Everything in moderation.

  • peter3dogs

    What are you thinking??We should go back to the days of Halliburton .Cheney &Bush sleeping together??/Saudi Arabia financed Osama Bin Laden..Oil is 19th century filthy technology & we need to supplant it w clean energy.Anyone who thinks otherwise is leading the civilized world to destruction.

    • Arkuy The Great

      And the proposed “clean energy” solutions are paleolithic low-technology. We used biomass, wind, solar and hydro as power mainstays since the dawn of mankind. They are not going to replace fossil fuel; all fantasy to the contrary notwithstanding.

      • peter3dogs

        Wind ,solar,biomass are all MAINLY NEW.They are Not Paleolithic,They have to be subsidized w tax incentives because they don’t degrade our environment.Oil ,coal ,& gas need to have a carbon tax for all the damage that they have done.All the health costs from shortened lives.
        Simpletons need to stop believing the propanganda put out by oil companies whose only aim is to fuel CEOS salaries & compensation.

        • Arkuy The Great

          “Wind ,solar,biomass are all MAINLY NEW. They are Not Paleolithic…”

          Are you seriously suggesting that we never used the heating power of the sun to dry fruits and vegetables before? That we never used the wind to drive boats, grind grains or winnow? That we never used wood, dry grass or dung to make a fire? Get some perspective; history did not start in 1800.

          “Oil ,coal ,& gas need to have a carbon tax for all the damage that they have done.All the health costs from shortened lives.”

          200 years ago average life span was about 40 years. Your existence was most probably sickly, malnourished and dangerous. Thus it had been since the origin of our species. Enter modern industrialized society. Lifespans have doubled with better nutrition, health and safety. These benefits have been brought to you by fossil fuels.

          “Simpletons need to stop believing the propanganda put out by oil
          companies whose only aim is to fuel CEOS salaries & compensation.”

          You need to stop believing the propaganda pushed by NWF, Sierra Club, Tides Foundation and all the other environmentalist groups funded generously by 1%ers hoping to keep the rest of us impoverished and “in our places”.

  • Oh bummer

    Exporting chaos: ‘West spent $5 billion destabilizing Ukraine’

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2xBhpFi9JU

    • Oh bummer

      This country once used to fight fascism, now it supports fascism.

      • liminalx

        With the exception of WWII, the USA has always supported fascist regimes, and even then several american bankers and industrialist funded and supplied the Nazis.

        • peter3dogs

          Where The US has gone wrong is The Industrialists that gained power after the industrial revolution.American power has been used to mold laws to their benefit,,& not to the betterment of Americans.

    • hennorama

      Mom Bur, He – please allow me to attempt to dissuade you from believing your source (which this time is RT, previously known as Russia Today) lock stock and barrel.

      A bit about RT, from wikipedia.com (footnote numbering deleted, and emphasis added):

      “Foundation

      “The creation of Russia Today was a part of a larger PR effort by the Russian government intended to improve the image of Russia abroad. RT was conceived by former media minister Mikhail Lesin, and Vladimir Putin’s press spokesperson Aleksei Gromov. At the time of RT’s founding, RIA Novosti director Svetlana Mironyuk stated: “Unfortunately, at the level of mass consciousness in the West, Russia is associated with three words: communism, snow and poverty,” and added “We would like to present a more complete picture of life in our country.” It is registered as an autonomous nonprofit organization funded by the federal budget of Russia through the Federal Agency on Press and Mass Communications of the Russian Federation.

      See:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RT_(TV_network)#History

      Next, a partial quote of my post directed to one of your prior monikers, the now-disappeared “Jay.” Please note that the RT clip you linked to conveniently omitted the fact that the $5 billion of support the U.S. has given to Ukraine is the running total from over 22 years of aid:

      [No doubt your sources haven't told you that the U.S. has provided an average of a bit more than $227 million per year to support Ukraine's efforts to transform itself into a working democracy.]

      Here’s the relevant portion of what Victoria Nuland said at the Washington Press Club on Dec. 13, 2013 (emphasis added):

      Since the declaration of Ukrainian independence in 1991, the United States has supported Ukrainians as they build democratic skills and institutions, as they promote civic participation and good governance, all of which are preconditions for Ukraine to achieve its European aspirations. We’ve invested over 5 billion dollars to assist Ukraine in these and other goals that will ensure a secure and prosperous and democratic Ukraine.”

      Source: (the relevant part is at about 7:25 into the clip)

      http://youtu.be/2y0y-JUsPTU?t=7m25shttp://youtu.be/2y0y-JUsPTU?t=7m25s

      • RobertLongView

        Propaganda in the great tradition of the Old Communist Pravda, eh? Looks as if RT is using the Rupert Murdoch business model — a Russian Faux News — ginning up dissent by slamming democracy.

        • hennorama

          RLV — thank you for your response.

          RT is not really “a Russian Faux News,” but one certainly must “consider the source” when the topic pertains directly to matters directly involving Russian interests.

          RT has some interesting discussion panels on occasion, and having an non-U.S. source can be helpful when considering the world perspective on U.S. governmental actions. Naturally, the BBC is far superior, but RT does have some merit, on some topics, at some times.

          However, in this specific case, the report is clearly skewed, and since it leaves out important details, must be viewed as intentionally misleading.

          Unfortunately, some will actually swallow the message whole, without any requisite skepticism.

          Thanks again for your response.

          • Oh bummer

            The crimes of your war-mongering President are being exposed.

      • HonestDebate1

        Sounds like NPR. I guess your problem is with the word “destabilize” as Oh Bummer’s comment seems correct.

    • Fredlinskip

      You actually believe RT is an unbiased news source worth quoting?
      I’m worried about you, bummer. Where does all this hate come from?
      Do you keep your eyelids popped open with toothpicks watching Fox “News” and reading WSJ 24 hours a day?
      Harvey Oswald was a big Russia fan.
      Is it a racist thing?
      You’re not going to go out and blow something up are you?
      We’re all Americans here.

    • Alchemical Reaction

      Some of what she says is true. Some of it is false propaganda. How is this helping to clarify the facts?????

    • hennorama

      Mom Bur, He — FYI, (coincidentally?) there’s an anti-RT petition currently active on whitehouse.gov, titled “Suspend the license of the xenophobic and war mongering TV station Russia Today (RT) America based in Washington, DC.”

      See:
      https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/suspend-license-xenophobic-and-war-mongering-tv-station-russia-today-rt-america-based-washington-dc/L9CRYPf2

      • Oh bummer

        Of course the war-mongering Obama White House is worried about RT, those war-criminals in the Obama White House don’t want the real truth getting out.

        Thank God for the internet and satellite.

  • liminalx

    “Perfidious,” the House of Saud are the master of it, and that’s kind of like the porcelain calling the enamel white. But I’m still surprised turkey al faisal knows the word.

  • Alchemical Reaction

    I never liked Saudi Arabia. I never liked the fact that Dubai was built on US oil dollars when our own infrastructure needs to be rebuilt.

    • ExcellentNews

      Rebuilding our infrastructure will put money in the pockets of working 99% americans. Why in the world would our ruling oligarchy do that, when you can just offshore the money, tax-free ????

      • Alchemical Reaction

        Because the 99% hate the rich, or at least have contempt and resentment for them. So why would the rich help them? It’s easy to make assumptions about another person’s motives and choices when you don’t have to walk in their shoes. There obviously ARE hateful, resentful and greedy rich people, but there are also hateful, resentful and envious lower middle class people. Politics has shown most people are arrogant and ignorant narcissists who foolishly hold their own sociopolitical point of view as if it were a religious belief and their immortal soul depended on it, when, most of the time, both sides of any debate are often misguided.

  • Oh bummer

    Obama and Fahd, the two supporters of al-Qaeda ‘rebels’ in Syria.

  • ExcellentNews

    How many TRILLIONS have we, the US taxpayer, spent to keep this fundamentalist monarchy fat and happy? So that the 159 princes and their 34,569 princeling offsprings can shop in Paris and jet-set in Cannes?

    Because the count is in TRILLIONS. Trillions for the Iraq wars, trillions for the “war on Terror”, and hundreds in billions in direct aid to assorted dictators and cronies. Money that has left America and has gone stashed in offshore accounts, or worse.

    Yes, there is worse. Did you know that the Saudi Royal family is a major shareholder of Fox News? Think about it, and you will see why Fox keeps jabbering to keep our country dependent on fossil fuels, and divided against itself. You will see why Fox foments such hate against the American liberal political wing, who wants to disengage from these fundamentalist despots, from their religious insanity, and instead put the money back in America to develop new energy and new infrastructure.

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