Friday, August 30, 2013

If Syria's Assad Needs To Go What About North Korea's Kim-Jong-Un?

The jungle drums keep on beating for the predicted upcoming American strike against Syria.

Even though the UK has now backed out from participating.

Leaving the U.S. with France and Turkey being its prime allies in this latest American foray into being the world's policeman.

You really can not go wrong with France and Turkey covering your backside.

I totally understand the current Syria Fixation. Apparently actual neuro-toxin weapons of mass destruction were used by Assad's regime to kill a lot of innocent people. And rebels.

The civilized world can not tolerate any regime anywhere in the world being so brutal to its people by using so brutal a weapon as poisonous gas.

Meanwhile in another country in the world, which is also ruled by a bizarre familial ruling dictator system, North Korea, for some reason America is not quite so adamant about a lesson being taught and a regime being changed.

North Korea has actually exploded weapons of mass destruction known as atom bombs. North Korea has actually threatened to put one of those bombs on a missile and aim it at America. North Korea brutally represses any opposition, with thousands thrown in prison.

North Korea is ruled by a little man named Kim-Jong-un who clearly has some serious mental health issues.

In the past week it was reported that Kim-Jong-un had one of his ex-girl friends executed.

Singer Hyon Song-wol and 11 others were arrested on August 17 for violating North Korea's laws against pornography.

Three days after her arrest Kim-Jong-un's ex-girlfriend was executed by a firing squad using machine guns, along with 11 other members of the performing groups Unhasu Orchestra and Wangjaesan Light Music Band.

Members of the orchestra and band who were not machine gunned, along with the murdered victim's families, were brought to the execution site to watch. And then sent to prison camps.

Now, I may be totally wrong here, but to me, I think the world needs to be rid of Kim-Jong-un at least as much as Syria's latest Assad needs to go.

I would think China would be on board with America in fixing the North Korea problem once and for all. It would be in both nation's long term interest to do so.

Or so it seems to me...

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Let Me See If I Have This Right...We Are Attacking Syria Because Syria Attacked Syria?

"Let me see if I have this right...We are attacking Syria, because Syria attacked Syria?"

Did Ron Paul really ask this question?

I don't know.

I found this graphic on Facebook via Martin B.

I think, at times, Ron Paul can be a bit loony, yet at the same time often make really good sense. And ask good questions.

With this Syria deal methinks Ron Paul is right to be a bit perplexed.

I know I'm perplexed.

We, by we, I mean the United States, invaded and deposed Saddam Hussein because we thought he had weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons.

The assertion is that Assad's Syrian regime has actually used chemical weapons to murder hundreds of Syrian rebels fighting to oust Assad.

Back before the first Gulf War, that being the one led by the first President Bush, Saddam had used chemical weapons to murder a large number of Iraqis.  A much larger number than Assad's alleged murder victims. But, nothing was done, at that time, to punish Saddam.

So, how do we administer justice in this current Syrian case? Depose Assad and charge him with crimes against humanity. Or just do some random bombing? Like a spanking, hoping he behaves better.

Martin B, on Facebook posed an amusing, but flawed analogy...

A little make believe story: Hillary Clinton becomes our next Prez. In reaction to this a far FAR right faction of redneck Tea Party members go absolutely ape. With Susan McDougal as their spokes person they gain numbers and take to the streets of DC demanding that Hillary step down. The mob grows, the redneck Tea Partiers even burn a Prius or two. Intelligence sources inform Prez Hillary that a huge number of the redneck Tea Party have gathered in a central location and are planning to rush the White House, forcing her from office. Fearing for her administration, Hillary orders a chemical attack......200 rednecks are dead, another 100 or so innocent Walmart shoppers also perish. In reaction to this, Russia puts a missile or two into the Pentagon and into a couple of the military bases around a "warning shot." I've written guys can finish the story.....

Which had one of Martin B's Facebook friends pointing out the obvious...

The analogy to Syria is seriously flawed, unless you're claiming a US presidential election is akin to whatever means Syria used to choose its current president.

The current Syria situation has way too many ways it could go badly awry. The world does not need anything going badly awry right now....

Saturday, August 24, 2013

American's Right To Life, Liberty, The Pursuit of Happiness & Health Care

Dementedly Stupid Anti-Obamacare Poster
Why is no one doing anything about America's out of control Ignorance Epidemic?

I am not sure where the center of America's Ignorance Epidemic is located.

America's Ignorance Epidemic may have multiple centers.

Rush Limbaugh and his radio show may be one Center of American Ignorance.

FOX News may be another Center of American Ignorance.

The Republican Party may also be another Center of American Ignorance.

Currently at the top of the agenda at the Centers of American Ignorance is ignorant ranting about the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

The Centers of Ignorance rant that Obamacare is part of a socialist agenda which will destroy America.

In America's Declaration of Independence one American concept stands out above all others, that being that we are endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

In America millions of Americans can not afford health care. Millions of Americans live lives of less than optimum health because they put off a visit to a doctor, fearing the cost. So, a lump goes unchecked until it becomes metastasized cancer, for example.

With those unalienable American rights being life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness it would seem that being able to afford to see a doctor when ones health is making one unhappy and threatening ones life would be one of those things all Americans would agree would be a good thing to provide to everyone.

America's health statistics, be it infant mortality, longevity, or other measures, rank America below other developed nations, and in some measures behind a nation like Cuba.

Increasing the supply of doctors and clinics is one of the first things Castro did after his socialist revolution succeeded.


I don't think Rush Limbaugh, a man whose education did not extend past high school, understands what socialism is.


Where the population, together, collectively, pays for something the population deems it needs to be a successful population, free to pursue life, liberty and happiness.

In America we collectively together pay for our common defense in the form of the military. The U.S. military is a socialist program.

In America we collectively together pay for public education. The U.S. school system is a socialist program. With the American university system widely regarded as the best in the world.

In America we collectively together pay for our roads. The U.S construction of public roads is a socialist program.

In America we collectively together pay for public libraries. The U.S. public library system is a socialist program.

In America we collectively together pay for our space program. NASA is a socialist program.

Another Dementedly Stupid Anti-Obamacare  Poster
If America collectively together paid for Universal Health Care, like other civilized, modern nations, why would this socialized program be the death of America?

When having a socialized military, schools, roads, libraries, power grids and other government enabled programs have not led to the death of America?

What if decades ago, say during the era of the New Deal, or even earlier, it became a political issue that we must develop a system where all Americans have access to the medical care they need?

With the principle being that America's health delivery system was going to be the best in the world, because having a universally healthy population was a benefit to all Americans.

Instead America developed a perverse private enterprise business model for its health care delivery system, eventually evolving to a primarily insurance based financing method, augmented by government programs, like Medicare.

With the result being that America spends more, by far,  per capita, on health care than any other nation in the civilized, modern world.

America spends more on health care than any other nation, yet millions of Americans go without health care, for the most part, relying on Emergency Rooms, when needed. And letting chronic problems grow worse, due to being unable to afford a doctor's visit.

And then there are the millions left in financial ruin. The primary breadwinner in a family succumbs to terminal cancer. Even with insurance such a family can face financial ruin, losing their home, left bankrupt.

The cost to the American economy caused by its perversely inefficient health delivery system is incalculable.

The benefit to the American economy and the American people of  real Universal Health Care seems obvious, or should be obvious.

But, for some reason, way too many people think the current perversely inefficient American health delivery system is serving America well.

When it clearly is not.

And that Universal Health Care is the one socialist program that will bring about the end of America as we know it, despite all the existing American socialist programs having made America in many ways the most successful nation in the world.

The only nation to land a man on the moon. The most extensive paved highway system in the world. The most powerful military in the world. The most comprehensive public library system in the world. One of the best educated populations in the world.

With the most expensive health care system in the world. Which does not deliver health care to all its citizens....

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Who Will The Know Nothing Party Nominate For President In The 2016 Election?

On the left you are looking at a political poster from way back before the American Civil War, the 1850s.

The text on the poster says...


Uncle Sam's youngest son was the Know Nothing Party's poster boy.

What eventually became known as the Know Nothing Party started off in 1845 as the Native American Party, losing Native from its name in 1855, to simply become the American Party.

Prior to 1860, with the election of the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, America had seen the coming and going of multiple political parties.

Since 1860 the American political system has been dominated by two parties, the Republicans and the Democrats.

To many observers the modern era version of the Republican Party has become a modern day version of the long gone Know Nothing Party.

The Know Nothing Party got what power it had by playing on the popular fear that America was being overwhelmed by immigrants.

Sound familiar?

Back then it was German and Irish Catholic immigrants which vexed the Know Nothings, while the modern era Know Nothings are vexed by what they call illegal immigrants, mostly from Mexico.

In 1849 a man in New York City, Charles B. Allen, started up a secret society to which members had to swear a secret oath. The secret society was called the Order of the Star Spangled Banner.

Fear of immigration, combined with being upset with Democrats, what with the Democratic leadership in many cities being Irish Catholics, had the members of the Order of the Star Spangled Banner campaigning to elect candidates in tune with their beliefs.

When out and about, and trying to influence voters, if a Star Spangled Banner campaigner was asked about his secret organization he was instructed to say, "I Know Nothing."

And thus the Know Nothing Party was born.

The Know Nothing Party name quickly came to mean something else with the majority of the population, for the same reason the Know Nothing nomenclature is used in the modern era to refer to some Republicans and some Tea Party types.

The modern era is not the first time some Americans have referred to some Republicans as Know Nothings.

In the 1890s Democrats frequently referred to Republicans as Know Nothings.

In 1892, during an election clash in Illinois between Republicans and Democrats, Democrat John Peter Altgeld memorably denounced the Republicans with words which manage to ring true today....

"The spirit which enacted the Alien and Sedition laws, the spirit which actuated the "Know Nothing" party, the spirit which is forever carping about the foreign-born citizen and trying to abridge his privileges, is too deeply seated in the party. The aristocratic and Know Nothing principle has been circulating in its system so long that it will require more than one somersault to shake the poison out of its bones."

Methinks it really is time for the Republican Party to go the way of the Whig Party, or for the Republican Party to find itself a leader who is willing to purge its Know Nothings and restore the Republican Party to being an entity worthy of being associated with Abraham Lincoln.

In the meantime, I am voting for Hillary Clinton next election cycle, unless someone better comes along....

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald

For decades the books I have read have been non-fiction only. Usually stuck in genres like True Crime, World War II, American Civil War, Native American History and non-fiction books about events in modern times, usually written by Bob Woodward, covering subjects like Watergate and the Bush Wars.

I have also read many auto-biographies. Ulysses S. Grant's auto-biography is likely the best I've read.

A couple months ago I read a book that compiled letters between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. Reading these letters and the interpretive commentary that explained their context was intriguing.

Being intrigued led me to reading fiction for the first time in a really long time.

First I read Fitzgerald's first novel, This Side of Paradise. Followed by Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls.

During my school years I read Fitzgerald and Hemingway. Almost every school boy in America, post World War II, has been required to read Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. The Hemingway novel I recollect being a reading assignment in high school was The Old Man and the Sea.

That these two, Hemingway and Fitzgerald were friends, albeit a turbulent friendship, is surprising, given that they were so different. Hemingway, in his writing, and in person, being such a manly man. Whilst Fitzgerald seems to be constantly working on getting in touch with his feminine side, as the modern vernacular describes a guy with a very sensitive self.

Yesterday I finished the Fitzgerald book whose cover you see above, that being The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald: A New Collection.

I figured I would likely bail on reading these short stories after a story or two.

Instead of bailing, I read every one of the 775 small print pages that it took to tell 43 short stories.

Fitzgerald was prolific with the short stories. He wrote many more than the 43 I read. He was the highest paid short story writer in America during his time. While he was alive his fame came from the short stories, not his novels. The Great Gatsby was pretty much a dud while Fitzgerald was alive.

F. Scott Fitzgerald was born in 1896. His first novel, This Side of Paradise was published in 1920, when he was only 24. While he was alive, none of his novels reached the level of popular success that his writing achieved well after his death, at 44, in 1940.

F. Scott Fitzgerald died thinking himself a failure, thinking he'd never reached the literary success he dreamed of when he was young. He died in Hollywood, working on movie scripts, with his last novel unfinished, that being The Last Tycoon, based on the life of Hollywood legend, Irving Thalberg.

The tragedy of F. Scott Fitzgerald's own life is mirrored, over and over again, in his short stories. I think any thinking person would find parts of their own life mirrored in the short stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

I am also thinking that someone in Hollywood should be thinking about the idea of turning the short stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald in to an anthology type TV series. Some weeks an episode could have two or even three of the short stories. Others of the short stories might span several weeks.

And tell the story the way Fitzgerald wrote it, not a bastardized version like what was done to his Curious Case of Benjamin Button. There are several of Fitzgerald's short stories I'd like to see in movie form. The Diamond as Big as the Ritz comes to mind. As does More Than Just a House. That one is a timely tale, applicable to our modern times.

Tomorrow I start in on The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway. I hope to be as impressed as I am by F. Scott Fitzgerald's short stories.....

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Things Americans Do The Rest Of The World Thinks Is Bizarre

An amusing article this morning in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer caught my attention.

The article is titled 13 Things Americans Do That The Rest Of The World Just Finds Is Bizarre.

Among the things Americans do that the rest of the world thinks to be bizarre are driving too much, eating too much cheese, being able to buy anything you want, including firearms, at Walmart, cheerleaders, flags, taking coffee everywhere, proms, alma mater obsession, white teeth mania and being obsessed with being the best country in the world.


America's weird version of puritanism, opining, "You guys can't separate nudity from sex...and extreme violence/gore is considered normal, and shown regularly on TV." 

I like cheese, long drives, drinking coffee and Walmart.


I agree that America's weird puritanical streak is very bizarre. To illustrate America's weird version of puritanism, the P-I article used the Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake Super Bowl Nipplegate Scandal.

That entire brouhaha over that particular Super Bowl halftime show was just ridiculous. And bizarre. And weird. The exposure was of such short duration that I missed it during a random eye blink. Luckily, I was recording the Super Bowl and so was able to see the outrageous spectacle after it became such an absurd cause celebre.

In America a movie that shows too much skin can easily get an R-rating, while it takes a lot of blood and gore to get an R-rating.

On TV the networks banned baring butts after the Super Bowl Nipplegate Scandal. Prior to that there was an occasional bared butt, past the family hour.

On non-network, cable type TV, in America, the human body is still exposed, at times. But, again, that is usually only bared butts. For example, on the Discovery Channel we have Naked & Afraid, where a man and a woman are left in the wilderness, naked for 21 days. The butts are clearly bared, uncensored. But the frontal bits have varying degrees of blurring, I assume with the degree dependent on the size of that which needs to be blurred.

While we are blurring the frontal bits of the man and woman on Naked & Afraid it is okay to show them bludgeoning various critters.

On network TV, CBS for example. Last night I watched the latest episode of Inside the Dome. The episode had one incident of a couple doing that which married people do that can result in a baby. Nothing remotely graphic shown. What is graphically shown was a couple men getting shot, one point blank. We see another guy blown up. The previous week we saw a woman battered to death with a bat, leaving a big pool of blood.

With that big pool of blood perfectly okay to show on American network TV.

Could Michelangelo's David make a tour of America without requiring a fig leaf?


As long as he kept off American network TV.

I don't know what happened to us formerly free-spirited Americans that turned us, collectively, into such prudish puritans regarding the naked human form, while being such free spirits regarding seeing that same human form subjected to horrific violence.

It is perplexing. And I can understand why others in the world find it bizarre...

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Curious Canadian Case Of The Killer Python

My initial reaction when I read that a python had somehow managed to kill two young boys, in Campbellton, New Brunswick, Canada, was that it did not seem likely that a snake was the culprit.

Then, as the details became known, the snake killing story seemed even harder to believe.

The Barthe brothers, Noah, 4, Connor 6, were spending the night with a family friend after spending Sunday playing with animals, playing pool and shopping for goodies. Basic kid stuff.

The family friend, the brothers were staying with, runs an exotic pet store. He lives above the store, which is where the boys were when they died.

A longer than 10 feet African Rock Python was kept in the living quarters in a big glass aquarium type enclosure which went all the way to the ceiling.

The claim is that somehow the Python slithered up the glass enclosure, into a ventilation duct, slithering to above the sleeping brothers, where its 100 pound weight caused the snake to come crashing through the ceiling.

The Python then quickly recovered from the fall and somehow managed to wrap itself around both boys so quickly that they did not let out a scream.

After allegedly crushing the life out of the brothers the Python then found a place to hide, which is where it was found when the owner of the Python checked in on the brothers to find them murdered.

The Python has been executed, without a trial.

Many people around the world are being skeptical about this story, judging from the thousands of comments on various social media.

I suspect the Case of the Killer Python is one we are going to be hearing about for awhile.

America Overreacting To Supposed Al Qaeda Threat?

In my likely wrong-headed view the current American reaction to a supposed Al Qaeda terror threat is completely bone-headed.

So, U.S. Intelligence picks up some high level Al Qaeda chatter about an impending attack.

The solution?

Close dozens of American embassies. Fly U.S. personnel out of Yemen. Make the world jittery.

If Al Qaeda is planning an attack, the terrorists are now well informed that their intended targets are no longer so viable.

If Al Qaeda is currently on track to make an attack, would the terrorists not now aim their attack elsewhere?

Would it not have made a lot more sense to quietly beef up the defenses at the embassies in danger? And if an embassy is attacked to attack the attackers, removing them permanently from the terror business?

Reacting in the way America has reacted, sort of lets the Al Qaeda terrorists win a round without firing a shot.

Surely there are better ways to deal with these type threats.

Just like it seems that there should be a better way to deal with the terror threat when we board a plane than to treat each of us as a suspect who needs to take off their shoes and be electronically strip searched.