War: The Untold Story

The US has been at war for most of the 20th century and into the 21st century…..these we are fighting out longest war ever……Afghanistan has been raging for damn near 17 years.

I have been writing about my opposition to these wars for a decade now……

The MSM reports our successes and some of our failures and in most of that time the one issue that seems to be ignored is that of the death of civilians.

Others as well as myself see the useless death of civilians as a major problem that is growing exponentially….in the last week the stories are such…..

For the second day in a row, US and NATO forces have deliberately attacked civilian houses known to contain civilian bystanders in an attempt to target Taliban fighters. Yesterday’s strike took place in Herat, where warplanes hit a Taliban compound, then targeting a whole neighborhood because the Taliban fighters scattered and they figured they were in some of those homes. 16 civilians were among the slain.

Today’s attack was further east, in Logar, where a US helicopter had decided Taliban fighters had taken shelter inside a civilian house, and fired missiles into it. 11 civilians were slain in the attack, which NATO promised to look into. There was no report of Taliban casualties, despite the pretext for the attack.

(antiwar.com)

The military got its body count unfortunately none of the dead were Taleban.

Then the news from Somalia……

A joint US-Somali raid on the farming village of Barire a week ago left 10 civilians dead, all of them executed one at a time by the troops. Today, after a week of disputes, the Somali national government finally admitted to the incident, and promised compensatory payments to the survivors.

Locals brought the slain to the capital of Mogadishu for display, and protested the killings, with provincial officials supporting their demands. Ultimately, the national government agreed to admit to the incident, pay “blood money” both for slain civilians and cattle, and to help resolve the tribal dispute in a way that wouldn’t lead to further massacres.

(antiwar.com)

“Blood Money” will be covered by the US no doubt…..”Hush Money” is a better term….

Then there is Syria…Raqqa to be exact……

UN officials are warning that the city’s population is paying an “unacceptable price” from the US airstrikes, and that continued US bombardment may be in violation of international law as a result. The US has been trying to back an invasion of Raqqa against ISIS.

An estimated 20,000 civilians remain in Raqqa, and the US has labeled them “human shields.” The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights warned that in just the month of August they’d documented 151 civilian deaths from the US-led invasion and US airstrikes.

(antiwar.com)

These are just the results from last week and this thing has been on-going for more than a decade…bombs do not distinguish good from bad.

This is a humanitarian crisis that the West will not acknowledge their part in creating.

The whole world should be angered at the deaths of women and children for no other reason that they were in the neighborhood.

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North Korea

My normal region of focus is the Middle East…..I never studied other regions much at all….but since North Korea and the world are having a good shouting match I have decided my horizons.

The news these days is fascinating…..one day it is Russia….the next DACA…..the next North Korea….all this while two or three major conflicts are being fought daily with little notice.

As it is today we have two macho bullies showing who has the biggest penis.

North Korea in the last couple of years has exploded several large nuke weapons and fired off many missiles to show their resolve…..and of course as a retort the US has shown its cajones by threatening all sorts of retaliation.

Their latest missile firing has indicated that they are progressing well and has struck the fear of the spirits in Japan…..

President Trump on Wednesday followed up on his “all options are on the table” warning to North Korea by suggesting that negotiations are not one of those options. “The U.S. has been talking to North Korea, and paying them extortion money, for 25 years,” he tweeted. “Talking is not the answer!” It’s not clear what Trump means by “extortion money,” notes the New York Times. The new warning follows the North’s decision to fire a ballistic missile over Japan for the first time, and an analysis at 38 North sees a potentially “ominous” clue in the test results: The missile flew a relatively short distance of about 1,700 miles. It’s possible engineers deliberately shut down the engine early, but the distance (and reports of the missile breaking into three pieces) suggests a more troubling possibility: Pyongyang is testing something called a “post-boost vehicle” on the missile.

PBVs are standard on US and Russian ICBMs, explains Michael Elleman, because they not only provide an added boost for the payload (some kind of warhead), they also provide for more accuracy. If the North had tested the missile with a PBV, and the test failed, the distance traveled would make sense. If that’s the case, “it is another sign that Pyongyang is deadly serious about developing and fielding nuclear-tipped missiles capable of striking the US mainland, and critical US military bases in the Pacific Ocean,” writes Elleman, who thinks North Korea is a year or two away from posing a credible threat to the US. Meanwhile, the Navy shot down a medium-range ballistic missile during a test off Hawaii, reports NBC News. “We will continue developing ballistic missile defense technologies to stay ahead of the threat as it evolves,” says a Pentagon official.

Of course the word coming out of the US is that any attempt to strike an ally would be shear suicide for NK.

But would it be suicide?  What would the US be willing to sacrifice?  LA?  Maybe Chicago?

“Are we really willing to risk Los Angeles or Chicago in retaliation for an attack on a US military base in the region? Probably not,” nuclear strategy specialist Vipin Narang tells the AP. And that’s exactly the calculation that gives North Korea a small shot at “winning” in a nuclear conflict, challenging the assumption that launching a nuclear weapon would be automatic suicide for the country. If North Korea feels threatened to the point of using a nuclear weapon, a first target would likely be a US military base in Japan; North Korea would then use its long-range nukes to threaten the US mainland and avoid a retaliatory strike. Experts say this is Kim Jong Un’s “theory of victory”—one that President Trump may be attempting to combat with an unsuccessful version of the “madman strategy.”

Trump said “all options are on the table.” This was, all things considered, a “measured” response from the president, according to the Atlantic. It was an official statement instead of a tweet, didn’t threaten “fire and fury,” and avoided calling Kim Jong Un a “wack job.”

While this situation is being mulled over by the “experts”……and then NK set off what is being called an “H-Bomb”……..(new twist)……

North Korea detonated a thermonuclear device Sunday in its sixth and most powerful nuclear test to date, which it called a “perfect success” as its neighbors condemned it. Though the strength of the blast is undetermined, the artificial earthquake it caused was several times stronger than tremors generated by previous tests. It reportedly shook buildings in China and Russia. The test was carried out at 12:29pm local time at the Punggye-ri site where North Korea has conducted nearly all of its nuclear tests. Seoul put the magnitude at 5.7, while the USGS said it was 6.3. North Korea’s state-run television reported Sunday that Kim Jong Un attended a meeting of the ruling party’s presidium and signed the go-ahead order. Earlier in the day, the party’s newspaper printed photos of Kim examining what it said was a nuclear warhead being fitted onto the nose of an ICBM.

North Korea in July test-launched two ICBMs believed to be capable of reaching the mainland US, reports the AP; this is the North’s first nuclear test since President Trump assumed office. The North claimed the device was a thermonuclear weapon—commonly called an H-bomb. That could be hard to independently confirm. It said the underground test site did not leak radioactive materials, which would make such a determination even harder. The North claims the device was made domestically and has explosive power that can range from tens to hundreds of kilotons. Outside experts suggested the yield might be in that ballpark, though closer to the lower range. The bomb dropped on Hiroshima had a 15-kiloton yield. Kim, according to the state-run KCNA, claimed all components of the device were domestically produced, which he said means the North can make “as many as it wants.”

What does that mean?

In military planning “all options” are always on the table….matters not the region…all angles must be covered.

Trump’s world becomes a bit more dangerous with each passing Tweet.

Tax Reform—-2017 Edition

Slowly but slowly some fresh air is filtering into DC as the Congress is on their Summer break.

The GOP attempt to ‘repeal and replace”, something they had been harping on for at least 7 years, fell on its face hard….and when they return after Labor Day will try move on to something new?

You guessed it!

It is that time again…..that time when the GOP jumps on the issue of tax reform.  That time ever session when the GOP talks a mean case for protecting jobs and helping hard working Americans.

You do realize that it is all BS, right?

Why?

The Congress has been cutting taxes for 40 years and in all that time the Middle Class has lost out and in all that time the voter falls for the BS every time it is proposed…even though I can see it with every paycheck that it is a LIE!

Oh there will be the usual….tax breaks, tax reform, the corporate tax rate and the ever popular going after that offshore cash and finally the slogan about helping hard working Americans….all have been said before…..every time their is a GOP tax package we hear the same lame promises and slogans.

For instance……the tax package in 2013 and the package that the GOP was championing….

Source: What About Those Pesky Corporate Tax Rates? – In Saner Thought

But do not take my well informed word for it……

This is the joint statement by Ryan and McConnell on the upcoming tax package….

Source: Joint Statement on Tax Reform | Speaker.gov

Let’s be honest, something that the GOP would never consider doing, the package today is the same package from 4 years ago…..the only ones to benefit from this deal will be the wealthy.

Unlike most people that bitch about taxes…..I have on several occasions offered my idea of how to handle taxes and such…….

Since taxation is our major source of income…then everyone who participates in this country should be paying their fair share….

First let’s be real…..anyone that believes the lie of tax cuts for corporations will somehow bring jobs and a better economy is just delusional fools.

Corporations…..a flat 15% corporate tax….no deductions or cuts or breaks…all pay the price.

Corporations should pay the same income tax as the individual or flatten it out to a 15% tax on all income…not on profit…income.  Deductions for employee health plans and buying new equipment only.

Individuals:

$0-50,000 no tax

$50,001-100,000 pays 15%

$100,001-250,00 pays 25%

$250,001-up pays 35%

Deductions to be worked out…but from my plan there will be very limited deductions.

I realize that this is an ambitious plan and will probably never see the light of day in my lifetime….but it is a fair plan and ALL Americans can participate in the prosperity of their country.

But even the Trump White House has those that see the wealthy should be pulling more weight when it comes to taxes….

ex-White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon has an unusual proposal for a Republican: He wants to raise income taxes on the richest Americans.

Specifically, a tax rate of 44 percent on all income over $5 million. Currently, the country’s highest rate is 39.6 percent.

Bannon’s economic views sit noticeably to the left of the GOP donor class. That means there’s scant chance Republicans will take Bannon up on the idea. But if they were smart, they would.

Source: Bannon’s bright idea

Although I do like the idea of them paying 90+% in taxes….but those days are long gone.

We need a truly equatable tax code….not one that hides corporate welfare behind a pile or volumes of legal-ese.

Think Things Are Bad?

Daily news reports tell some that we are in bad times….and yet others think we are doing fine and will progress beyond the stifling partisanship.

For 7 months things have been going downhill….Congress is getting fed up with the president and his agenda (that may be the wrong word for I do not see any agenda in his future)……September will be the tell all….we have a deficit fight coming….we have budgetary fight coming….and in all that is the silliness of tax reform.

But believe it or not things may get a lot worse than we are seeing now…..

For several months following the extraordinary outcome of last year’s presidential election, much of the country found itself stumbling through a severe case of politically inspired post-traumatic stress disorder.

Many anti-Trump conservatives, liberals, progressives, and those further to the left were at first stunned and then consumed by a mixture of outrage and revulsion that showed itself in the enormous protests that followed President Trump’s inauguration. It also fueled spasms of blame-casting, with a rotating cast of characters coming in for abuse: Russian President Vladimir Putin, then-FBI Director James Comey, the press (for unfairly focusing undue attention on Hillary Clinton’s email server management practices), and finally the nearly 63 million Americans who voted to elevate a sociopathic moron to the Oval Office.

Source: Things are going to get much, much worse

Trump’s cooperation with Congress is quickly sliding into a pit…..his mash-up with Senate majority leader McConnell is close to epic……so far House majority leader Ryan has kept a civil tongue in his mouth as if he does not want to make a foe of Trump regardless how bad his agenda is.

Some have been saying that with the departure of Bannon from the White House that the “populist” takeover of the government is done

There’s no questioning that President Trump, after seven months in office, is still talking (and tweeting) like a right-wing populist. Indeed, at his fiery, free-form rally in Phoenix on Tuesday night, the president took repeated angry swipes at the media, suggested he’d pardon strident opponent of illegal immigration ex-Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and even gestured toward “terminating NAFTA at some point.” But beyond such outbursts, which amount to little more than gusts of hot air, the hostile populist takeover of the GOP that Trump promised to lead has come to almost nothing.

That could have momentous consequences for the country — and particularly, for the Democrats.

Source: The end of the hostile populist takeover of the GOP

I do not see much change in the tone from the Trump White House with the departure of the so-called alt-right.

Personally I tire of the “America First” crowd….because it is not about making America great again but rather the pursuit of a small minded perverted ideology.

So the journey began with the Trump victory will continue from day one to the day he leaves office…..however long that is.

A Weasel In The Hen House?

That age old saying could be used to describe the White House of today.

There are factions within the WH…the alt-Right faction and the sane faction……and the latest polls may make it worse…..recent polls say that Trump is losing the conservatives….not necessarily his base but the conservs in a broader sense.

More Republicans will turn against Donald Trump and his politics of populism, a GOP senator and leading critic of the president has predicted, as the Guardian surveys the conservative landscape 200 days into the Trump presidency.

Jeff Flake of Arizona, among 17 conservative politicians, activists, officials and pundits interviewed over two months, revealed that while the president has given rightwing fringe groups a seat at the table, his alliance with his own party remains highly precarious.

Source: The conservatives turning against Donald Trump | US news | The Guardian

To add fuel to this fire word came out that VP Pence had set up a PAC and speculation went crazy about his possible run for the presidency in 2020…..,but he quickly tapped down this speculation…..

Mike Pence is at the center of a juicy DC rumor—and he’s not having it. Per the AP, Pence released a statement Sunday disavowing a New York Times story that reports he’s among Republicans gearing up for a shot at the White House in 2020 should Trump decide not to run for reelection. Pence’s statement said the article “is disgraceful and offensive to me, my family, and our entire team.” It called the allegations “categorically false,” “laughable and absurd,” and described them as an attempt by the media to divide the Trump administration. The Times piece looks at members of the GOP who are possibly laying the groundwork for “shadow campaigns,” citing political maneuvers and fundraising by senators Cotton and Sasse as well as Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

But the article considers Pence at length, calling him the “pacesetter,” with mentions of his fundraising committee recently racking up $1 million at a Washington fundraiser, and his robust political event schedule. It says unnamed advisers to the vice president have indicated to donors that Pence is interested in a presidential bid, but only if Trump doesn’t seek another term. Kellyanne Conway doubled down on Pence’s statement during media rounds, saying, “It is absolutely true the vice president is getting ready for 2020—for reelection as vice president” on ABC’s This Week. A New York Times spokeswoman told the AP in an email statement that the paper is “confident in the accuracy of our reporting and will let the story speak for itself.”

But Pence’s denial rang hallow to at least one GOP strategist, Rick Wilson…..

Republican strategist Rick Wilson on Monday said Pence’s denial rings very hollow — and he predicted that there would be growing support for ousting Trump among Republicans should Trump continue to flounder as president.

“His denial is a full confession of guilt,” Wilson wrote on Twitter Monday. “The ‘Pence is running’ whispers follow months of ‘Pence is a circuit breaker for Trump’s cray’ whispers. Pence is a *major* safety blanket for GOP Members, particularly in the Senate. He’s a kind of ‘But Gorsuch!’ talisman they clutch in the dark, stormy moments of Trump’s most evident instability.”

Source: GOP Strategist Explains Why Pence Is Destined to Betray Trump | Alternet

I agree with Wilson on this….I have been saying since Pence was chosen as Trump’s running mate that he would be a backstabber….at the first opportunity.

I do not like his politics….not because he is a conservative but that he is a theocrat and in my book no better than those imans calling for jihad.  If he is successful at taking the government then he will most likely impose his brand of Christianity on us all.

I said at the beginning and I still feel that he is nothing more than the “weasel in the hen house” waiting for the best opportunity to stab Trump in the back and grab the prize.

Crisis In The Making

With the events in India taking front stage….I wrote about the situation on my other blog, In Saner Thought…….in case you may have been busy and missed the piece……

Source: The Mysterious Sub-Continent – In Saner Thought

The subject is so interesting that I felt the need to write two op-eds on the subject…..well at least to me…..

We have the battle against ISIS…..we have North Korea flexing its muscle…..the world seems to be in turmoil……conflict upon conflict….but here is one that is so far being done under the radar of the news…..this conflict pits India against China…..a conflict that has been a sore spot since the 60’s….

Sino-China Conflict…….was a war between China and India that occurred in 1962. A disputed Himalayan border was the main pretext for war, but other issues played a role. There had been a series of violent border incidents after the 1959 Tibetan uprising, when India had granted asylum to the Dalai Lama. India initiated a Forward Policy in which it placed outposts along the border, including several north of the McMahon Line, the eastern portion of a Line of Actual Control proclaimed by Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai in 1959.

Unable to reach political accommodation on disputed territory along the 3,225-kilometre-long Himalayan border,  the Chinese launched simultaneous offensives in Ladakh and across the McMahon Line on 20 October 1962. Chinese troops advanced over Indian forces in both theatres, capturing Rezang la in Chushul in the western theatre, as well as Tawang in the eastern theatre. The war ended when China declared a ceasefire on 20 November 1962, and simultaneously announced its withdrawal from one of the two disputed areas. Indian posts and patrols were removed from Aksai Chin, which came under direct Chinese control after the end of the conflict.

You see the dislike has been festering for over 50 years…..until recently it has gotten to the point of notice by the world…..

Buried in the Himalayas in the Siliguri Corridor, also known as the Chicken’s neck, Chinese and Indian military forces sit on the respective sides of their vague borders and entrench themselves for what could become a shooting war between nuclear powers.

Both Beijing and New Delhi see the conflict as a shoving match for dominance in the Himalayas, an age-old struggle between the two states that most recently went hot in 1962, before either state had perfected nuclear bombs.

But now a Chinese construction project aiming to build a road that can support 40 ton vehicle traffic threatens a critical passage in India and risks alienating New Delhi from its ally, Bhutan.

Source: China and India are edging closer to a war in Asia that neither can back down from

But what are the areas of dispute that could bring these two nations to the point of war?

The biggest bone of contention is Tibet & Dalai Lama.
This led to the first ever war between these two nations. China is very sensitive about the territorial sovereignty and having Dalai Lama run a shadow government in India has historically been a major irritator for them.

Following Tibet are two border disputes – one in a region called Aksai Chin and another in a region called Arunachal Pradesh. Both nations claim both regions although China controls the former and India the latter. In both these places the geography favors the current arrangement. With both nations nuclear armed, it is inconceivable for any solution other than formalizing the status quo. However, both nations have a fairly noisy nationalist brigade that doesn’t want to lose face by stating that reality. Thus, the border remains unresolved leading to frequent flare up of anger. Balaji Viswanathan’s answer to Why did China invade India in 1962?

The third one and the one rapidly becoming important is the domination of Indian Ocean through a Chinese strategy termed the String of Pearls. Here is a map from that Wiki page. The stars in red circles are China’s plans for naval bases, stars in blue circles are American bases and Indian flags are Indian bases. Red circles surrounding India’s naval bases are feared by India as containment strategy.
Indian government is spending a lot of energy from preventing this from
happening. This includes both defensive punches such as pulling Sri Lanka, Maldives, Myanmar and Bangladesh back to Indian sphere of influence and offensive punches such as a counter-containment strategy in South China sea. Vietnam And India Sign Oil, Naval Agreement Amid South China Sea Disputes, Angering Beijing. From India’s perspective, China cannot have it both ways – either both nations stick to their respective oceans or both nations get involved in both places.

The fourth bone of contention that is yet to erupt fully is water. What is the strategic significance of the Tibetan Plateau to China and India? A lot of subcontinent’s water supply comes from the Tibetan Plateau and this is one historic reason why India was uncomfortably having any hostile power control that plateau. However, as China continues to dam in the Tibetan Plateau, the water scarce subcontinent will face greater pressures. China and India are yet to have any kind of water sharing agreement.

Source: China’s Creeping Invasion of India | The Diplomat

This could be problematic for the Trump government…..these two are major trading partners….if bullets fly what will Trump do?  How will he settle this conflict?

Slogans will not work.  A campaign speech will not help.  Diplomacy is not high on the Trump agenda….so the only decision to be made is…..which side will we choose?

Throw Momma In Jail

Since the erection of Trump and his AG the use of jail time is going to be the answer to everything negative in out society.

It appears that the answer to all our crime problems is more jail time and longer sentences.

You could go to prison for life for selling drugs…depends on your race the amount of jail time…..of course you could get a hardy sentence if you rob someone using a weapon of sorts….but of all the dumbest jail terms is the one for sexting.

Sexting?  Yep, that inappropriate form of communication of sending sexual explicit photos and such through the text on your phone……teens seem to be the big users of this art form…..

The United States House of Representatives has passed a bill to criminalize “sexting” among teenagers. But that’s not all. This ominous bill also punishes their parents by making them face a 15-year mandatory, minimum sentence.

H.R. 1761, the Protecting Against Child Exploitation Act of 2017, seeks to “criminalize the knowing consent of the visual depiction, or live transmission, of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct, and for other purposes.”

Any person who, in a circumstance described in subsection (f), knowingly—employs, uses, persuades, induces, entices, or coerces a minor to engage in any sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing any visual depiction of such conduct, or transmitting a live visual depiction of such conduct; produces or causes to be produced a visual depiction of a minor engaged in any sexually explicit conduct where the production of such visual depiction involves the use of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct and such visual depiction is of such conduct; or transmits or causes to be transmitted a live visual depiction of a minor engaged in any sexually explicit conduct.

I believe that something needs to be done….but throwing parents into prison for up to 15 years is a bit excessive.  But that is always a conservative’s answer to some crime…..more jail time….and we know how well that has worked for the War on Drugs.

Maybe get the parents more involved in their kids lives….instead of throwing them some electronics and ignoring them will help them in the long run.

Let’s say that the parent are thrown into prison does the child become the ward of the state?  Who will pay those bills?

As usual the Congress does what it does best….NOTHING that solves a problem only to create new ones.

Somewhere I believe there is something written about “cruel and unusual punishment”….if not there should be.  (that is called “sarcasm”)