Posted by: coastcontact | September 17, 2014

The United State Constitution signed September 17, 1787

The work of some great men who envisioned a new form of government that represented all the people.  It begins with a preamble.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Posted by: coastcontact | September 14, 2014

Obama’s Strategy for Fighting ISIS Isn’t All About Us

Thomas FriedmanBy Thomas L. Friedman in the N.Y. Times, September 14, 2014

THERE are three things in life that you should never do ambivalently: get married, buy a house or go to war. Alas, we’re about to do No. 3. Should we?

President Obama clearly took this decision to lead the coalition to degrade and destroy the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, with deep ambivalence. How could he not? Our staying power is ambiguous, our enemy is barbarous, our regional allies are duplicitous, our European allies are feckless and the Iraqis and Syrians we’re trying to help are fractious. There is not a straight shooter in the bunch.

Other than that, it’s just like D-Day.

Consider Saudi Arabia. It’s going to help train Free Syrian Army soldiers, but, at the same time, is one of the biggest sources of volunteer jihadists in Syria. And, according to a secret 2009 U.S. study signed by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and divulged by WikiLeaks, private “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.”

Turkey allowed foreign jihadists to pass into and out of Syria and has been an important market for oil that ISIS is smuggling out of Iraq for cash. Iran built the E.F.P.’s — explosively formed penetrators — that Iraqi Shiite militias used to help drive America out of Iraq and encouraged Iraq’s Shiite leaders to strip Iraqi Sunnis of as much power and money as possible, which helped create the ISIS Sunni counterrevolt. Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, deliberately allowed ISIS to emerge so he could show the world that he was not the only mass murderer in Syria. And Qatar is with us Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and against us Tuesdays and Thursdays. Fortunately, it takes the weekends off.

Meanwhile, back home, Obama knows that the members of his own party and the Republican Party who are urging him to bomb ISIS will be the first to run for the hills if we get stuck, fail or accidentally bomb a kindergarten class.

So why did the president decide to go ahead? It’s a combination of a legitimate geostrategic concern — if ISIS jihadists consolidate their power in the heart of Iraq and Syria, it could threaten some real islands of decency, like Kurdistan, Jordan and Lebanon, and might one day generate enough capacity to harm the West more directly — and the polls. Obama clearly feels drummed into this by the sudden shift in public opinion after ISIS’s ghastly videotaped beheadings of two American journalists.

O.K., but given this cast of characters, is there any way this Obama plan can end well? Only if we are extremely disciplined and tough-minded about how, when and for whom we use our power.

Before we step up the bombing campaign on ISIS, it needs to be absolutely clear on whose behalf we are fighting. ISIS did not emerge by accident and from nowhere. It is the hate-child of two civil wars in which the Sunni Muslims have been crushed. One is the vicious civil war in Syria in which the Iranian-backed Alawite-Shiite regime has killed roughly 200,000 people, many of them Sunni Muslims, with chemical weapons and barrel bombs. And the other is the Iraqi civil war in which the Iranian-backed Shiite government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki systematically stripped the Sunnis of Iraq of their power and resources.

There will be no self-sustained stability unless those civil wars are ended and a foundation is laid for decent governance and citizenship. Only Arabs and Muslims can do that by ending their sectarian wars and tribal feuds. We keep telling ourselves that the problem is “training,” when the real problem is governance. We spent billions of dollars training Iraqi soldiers who ran away from ISIS’s path — not because they didn’t have proper training, but because they knew that their officers were corrupt hacks who were not appointed on merit and that the filthy Maliki government was unworthy of fighting for. We so underestimate how starved Arabs are, in all these awakenings, for clean, decent governance.

Never forget, this is a two-front war: ISIS is the external enemy, and sectarianism and corruption in Iraq and Syria are the internal enemies. We can and should help degrade the first, but only if Iraqis and Syrians, Sunnis and Shiites, truly curtail the second. If our stepped-up bombing, in Iraq and Syria, gets ahead of their reconciliation, we will become the story and the target. And that is exactly what ISIS is waiting for.

ISIS loses if our moderate Arab-Muslim partners can unite and make this a civil war within Islam — a civil war in which America is the air force for the Sunnis and Shiites of decency versus those of barbarism. ISIS wins if it can make this America’s war with Sunni Islam — a war where America is the Shiite/Alawite air force against Sunnis in Iraq and Syria. ISIS will use every bit of its Twitter/Facebook network to try to depict it as the latter, and draw more recruits.

We keep making this story about us, about Obama, about what we do. But it is not about us. It is about them and who they want to be. It’s about a pluralistic region that lacks pluralism and needs to learn how to coexist. It’s the 21st century. It’s about time.

Posted by: davidbancroft | September 14, 2014

TO WHOM DOES THE LAND OF ISRAEL BELONG??

An Israeli Sense of Humor at United Nations set the record straight.

An ingenious example of speech and politics occurred recently in the United Nations Assembly and made the world community smile.

A representative from Israel began:
‘Before beginning my talk I want to tell you something about Moses:
When he struck the rock and it brought forth water, he thought,
“What a good opportunity to have a bath!”

Moses removed his clothes, put them aside on the rock and entered the water.
When he got out and wanted to dress, his clothes had vanished.
A Palestinian had stolen them!

The Palestinian representative at the UN jumped up furiously and
shouted, “What are you talking about? The Palestinians weren’t there then.”

The Israeli representative smiled and said,
“And now that we have made that clear, I will begin my speech.”

Author of this piece is unknown

DAVID BANCROFT

Posted by: coastcontact | September 13, 2014

Remember the Maine and other Reasons for Starting a War

History has taught us nothing!

Two Americans were beheaded and those acts, as horrible as they are, is about to lead the United States into another war. 

On June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated. For some unknown reason, Austria-Hungary believed that Serbia was involved either directly or indirectly. Some people believe that Austria-Hungary was just looking for an excuse to start a war.

  U.S.S. Maine in Havana Harbor Jan. 1898 - US Naval Institute

 

“REMEMBER THE MAINE, TO HELL WITH SPAIN!” was the cry after an explosion on that ship caused it to sink with 260 American sailors on board. On April 11, 1898, McKinley asked the Congress for permission to use force in Cuba. To send a message to the rest of the world that the United States was interested in Cuban independence instead of American colonization, Congress passed the TELLER AMENDMENT, which promised that America would not annex the precious islands. After that conscience-clearing measure, American leaders threw caution to the wind and declared open warfare on the Spanish throne.

The Spanish-American War is often referred to as the first “media war.” During the 1890s, journalism that sensationalized—and sometimes even manufactured—dramatic events was a powerful force that helped propel the United States into war with Spain. Led by newspaper owners William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, journalism of the 1890s used melodrama, romance, and hyperbole to sell millions of newspapers–a style that became known as yellow journalism.

Willian Randolph HearstThe term yellow journalism came from a popular New York World comic called “Hogan’s Alley,” which featured a yellow-dressed character named the “the yellow kid.” Determined to compete with Pulitzer’s World in every way, rival New York Journal owner William Randolph Hearst copied Pulitzer’s sensationalist style and even hired “Hogan’s Alley” artist R.F. Outcault away from the World. In response, Pulitzer commissioned another cartoonist to create a second yellow kid. Soon, the sensationalist press of the 1890s became a competition between the “yellow kids,” and the journalistic style was coined “yellow journalism.”

Hearst created several schemes to spark U.S. intervention. The most well-known involved the imprisonment and release of Cuban prisoner Evangeline Cisneros. With his hand in her dramatic escape, Hearst successfully used publicity to rally U.S. interest for the Cuban struggle.


Perhaps the most famous anecdote surrounding Heart’s zeal for the war involves a legendary communication between illustrator Frederick Remington and Hearst. As the story goes, Remington, who had been sent to Cuba to cover the insurrection, cabled to Hearst that there was no war to cover. Hearst allegedly replied with, “You furnish the pictures. I’ll furnish the war.” More detail here.

Tune in to FOX, CNN, NBC, etc. today and you will see the images and hear the tales of ISIS soldiers now reportedly numbering 30,000 or more that are threatening Syria, Iraq, and adjoining nations with their very existence. “Contractors Ready to Cash In On ISIS War” is an article posted by Eli Lake on THE DAILY BEAST. “Islamic State’s rapid growth caught U.S. by surprise” is a headline of the Los Angeles Times.

Don’t you see how headlines and stories are fanning the flames of war? In the confusion the president calls his plans a war then call it an action against terrorists but not a war. “No boots on the ground” is repeated endlessly. What does that accomplish? Proof that the United States is not getting into another war.  – The confusion causes the president’s highest advisers to sometimes say the word “war” and then re-state that we are not going to war.

Even in his Wednesday night speech the president said there is no credible threat on the “homeland.”

When a president has no firm foreign policy he is impacted by the noisiest among us. Prepare for loss of life and other unintended consequences.

Posted by: coastcontact | September 10, 2014

Another Sad Military Adventure for the U.S.A.

 

obama-address 09-10-2014

Our president has succumbed to the war mongers.

President Obama’s speech to destroy ISIS (or ISIL) was for the most part excellent. The latter part of the speech where he spoke of the United States recovering from the Great Recession was irrelevant.

He told us his plans to accomplish the goal. He placed only one condition on those plans. There will be no American army doing the ground fighting. Without spelling out every detail he implied that American forces would be used in Syria.

I have one big problem with this military adventure. The president did not tell Americans why we need to be involved in the effort. Other questions:
• Where is the evidence that America will be attacked if ISIS is not destroyed?
• What interests of the United States will be effected by the rise of ISIS?
• Who will do the ground fighting if it’s not Americans?
• How can we rely on the Iraqi army when they dropped their weapons and ran away in the face of attack by ISIS?
• Why hasn’t the Arab League lead this fight?
• Given our track record in the Middle East, why will the outcome of this war be any different?
• When will we know we have won the fight?

Two things we can be sure of is that the manufacturers of military hardware will be earning more money and American lives will be lost.

Posted by: coastcontact | September 9, 2014

A Progressive Estate Tax in the United States

This idea won’t become law but it should.

By:  Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

Huffington Post

Monday, September 8, 2014

The founders of our country declared their independence from what they viewed as a tyrannical aristocracy in England. More than two centuries later, today’s tyrannical aristocracy is no longer a foreign power. It’s an American billionaire class which has unprecedented economic and political influence over all of our lives.

Unless we reduce skyrocketing wealth and income inequality, unless we end the ability of the super-rich to buy elections, the United States will be well on its way toward becoming an oligarchic form of society where almost all power rests with the billionaire class.

In the year 2014, the U.S. has by far the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any major country on earth. This inequality is worse than at any time in our country’s history since 1928. Today, the top 1 percent owns about 37 percent of the total wealth in this country. The bottom 60 percent owns only 1.7 percent of our nation’s wealth.

At a time median family income is $5,000 less than it was in 1999, the net worth of the top 400 billionaires in this country has doubled over the past decade. The top 1 percent now owns more wealth than the bottom 90 percent of Americans and one family, the Walton family of Wal-Mart, owns more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of Americans. 

In terms of income, the top 1 percent earns more than the bottom 50 percent. Since the Great Recession of 2008, 95 percent of all income gains in the U.S. have gone to the top 1 percent. While the rich have become even richer, more Americans are living in poverty than at any time in our nation’s history. Today, half of Americans have less than $10,000 in savings. We have the highest rate of childhood poverty – 22 percent – than any major country on earth.

More than a century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt recognized the danger of massive wealth and income inequality and what it meant to the economic and political well-being of the country. In addition to busting up the big trusts of his time, he fought for the creation of a progressive estate tax to reduce the enormous concentration of wealth that existed during the Gilded Age.

“The absence of effective state, and, especially, national, restraint upon unfair money-getting has tended to create a small class of enormously wealthy and economically powerful men, whose chief object is to hold and increase their power,” the Republican president said. “The really big fortune, the swollen fortune, by the mere fact of its size acquires qualities which differentiate it in kind as well as in degree from what is passed by men of relatively small means. Therefore, I believe in … a graduated inheritance tax on big fortunes, properly safeguarded against evasion and increasing rapidly in amount with the size of the estate.”

Roosevelt spoke those words on Aug. 31, 1910. They are even more relevant today.

A progressive estate tax on multi-millionaires and billionaires is the fairest way to reduce wealth inequality, lower our $17 trillion national debt and raise the resources we need for investments in infrastructure, education and other neglected national priorities.

I will shortly introduce legislation that will:

• Call for a progressive estate tax rate structure so that the super wealthy pay their fair share of taxes. The tax rate for the value of an estate above $3.5 million and below $10 million would be 40 percent. The tax rate on the value of estates above $10 million and below $50 million would be 50 percent, and the tax rate on the value of estates above $50 million would be 55 percent.

• Include a billionaire’s surtax of 10 percent. This surtax on the value of estates worth more than $1 billion would currently apply to fewer than 500 of the wealthiest families in America worth more than $2 trillion.

• Close estate tax loopholes that have allowed the wealthy to avoid billions in estate taxes. Some of the wealthiest Americans in this country have exploited loopholes in the tax code to avoid paying an estimated $100 billion in estate taxes since 2000. My bill would close those loopholes.

• Exempt the first $3.5 million of an estate from federal taxation ($7 million for couples), the same exemption that existed in 2009. Under this legislation, 99.75 percent of Americans would not pay a penny in estate taxes. 

This legislation would exempt more than 99.7 percent of Americans from paying any estate tax while ensuring that the wealthiest Americans in our country pay their fair share.

I agree with former Labor Secretary Robert Reich who wrote, in support of this legislation, that America “is creating an aristocracy of wealth populated by heirs who don’t have to work for a living yet have great influence over how the nation’s productive assets are deployed.” He is right in calling the proposal that I’ve laid out “a welcome step toward reversing this trend.” Let’s fight together to see that it is implemented.

Posted by: coastcontact | September 8, 2014

Mel Brooks in Concrete

mel-brooks-chinese-theater Sept 8 2014

Mel Brooks (Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, etc.) finally has his hands and feet in the cement at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood.  Notice his left hand.

More here.

Posted by: coastcontact | September 5, 2014

What We Can Learn From Joan Rivers

 

Joan Rivers

The rich and lengthy history of Joan’s career is well-known. She began appearing in 1961 with Second City comedy in Chicago and at comedy clubs in New York. She joined Candid Camera in 1965 and performed on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in February 1965. Then followed regular appearances on The Tonight Show, as well as other television and movie performances, including this performance on the Ed Sullivan show in April 1967.

Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, her popularity grew and employment opportunities were steady. Then in 1986 came the split with Carson, and the cancellation of The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers. Other rejections followed, but Joan never became too proud to work small clubs in Cleveland or upstate New York or suburban Wisconsin.

In the 2000s, she is back at the center of popular culture: appearances on Celebrity Apprentice (she won), The Simpsons, In Bed with Joan, and Fashion Police, to name just a few. (copied from What California Job Specialists Can Learn Today from Joan Rivers by Michael Bernick and posted on Fox and Hounds)

My Dad was another great example of finding work when many would have given up. He was a civil/structural engineer. Jobs were projects and once completed a layoff would quickly follow. On the day he married in Winnipeg, Canada. He boarded a train with his new bride, going to Vancouver, Canada. When that job ended two years later he landed a road construction job in north eastern Ontario, Canada. When that job ended he found a job in Erie, Pennsylvania. While none of it was exciting as Joan Rivers’ career he was doing exactly the same thing. Going wherever the opportunities existed.

Today some people are moving to North Dakota where oil has been found and the winters are miserable. The unemployment rate is 2.8%. In a country where jobs are in short supply those making that move are showing their ability to survive when the going gets rough.

Posted by: coastcontact | September 4, 2014

WHY VOTE?

coastcontact:

It appears that many Americans have given up on the electoral system. Grid lock in Washington makes us all wonder “what’s the use?” I too am reaching that point. We just don’t have an alternate.

Originally posted on 503me's Blog:

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View original

Posted by: coastcontact | August 31, 2014

The Problem Is in the Hyphen

Written by  in the Huffington Post.  She just wants to be an American.  I totally agree.

I don’t like being called African-American.

I’ve always been pretty fond of being an American. I come from a military family from Texas — patriotism is required. My appearance is not straight forward, black or white, so people often ask me what I am. Sometimes they ask for my ethnicity, sometimes they ask for my race, but sometimes they ask about my “nationality.” My nationality is simple and very straight-forward. I am an American.

I have an American passport. I was born here, and I’ve lived here for my whole life, just like my grandparent’s grandparents. Something interesting yet predictable happens when I respond that I am simply “American.” People are not content with that answer, because it does not give the full rundown of the information they seek. What they are asking for is a deeper explanation. Within my definition of myself they seek an answer to the question of what part of America I belong in, which part of America’s history my veins flow from. Being a citizen of America has always meant different things for different people, and deep down we all know that.

Native American. Isn’t that redundant? Qualifying the people who were here first. Apparently it is not length of time a person’s bloodline has on this land that makes an American, because then we would all have to agree that the only true “Americans” are the native population. So who is American? Who can say, in response to an inquiry about their ethnicity, that they are simply “American,” and people accept their answer?

“America” as we now know it began with the Declaration of Independence. We have a constitution, we have amendments and laws, all created for the advancement of the country of Americans. When those foundational structures were created they were made for a particular group of people — white, anglo-saxon, land-owning men. Over the years the pool expanded a bit, but the general aesthetic of the “American” maintained its potency. The blonde-haired blue-eyed beauty queens and the Barbies that circulate around the globe embody the imagined American ideal. The overwhelmingly white faces we see leading our country, and police forces, the faces we see in movies, in magazines, and on TV — they are the American ideal. They are the ones at the table, creating the structures, the companies, and laws. The founders of this country were white men, and their families and their descendants are understood to be the “Americans.” Never mind a majority of “African-Americans” (black people in America whose ancestors were slaves) are partially descended from white slave-owning men.

That is why certain (usually hyphenated) citizens of America do not feel protected by the laws of their own land. That is why sometimes it feels like there are many different Americas existing on the same large piece of land — some living comfortably and some living in what feels like a war zone, or an occupation.

I desire to claim my complete and comprehensive Americanness. I am American. I have the history of this country’s conception mapped out in my bloodlines. I am American. Some of my ancestors were born here and knew no other land, some of my ancestors journeyed here from Europe, and some of my ancestors were brought here from Africa. I don’t know the complete stories of any of their lives, but I know their stories merge to create mine. One that is very specifically American.

Asian-Americans are American. Hispanic-Americans are American. African-Americans are American. By hyphenating groups we create a subset that relegates certain Americans to a second tier of citizenship that we all internalize whether we want to or not. Being labeled African-American feels like a disavowal of everythingthat I am as well as the singular thing that I am — American.

I am ready to drop the hyphens. I am German-American, Irish-American, French-American, Native-American, and African-American. All of those hyphens make up who I am; who I am is the melting pot we learned about in school but have yet to fully conceptualize. I am what happens in a land of immigrants. I am the embodiment of the American experiment, and I am okay with that as long as I can call myself what I am. The push-back for “reclaiming America” or going back to “the good ole days” is a push back for something that never was. America has never been a happy place for everyone living in it, but the more of America a person can claim, the better America is for them.

It’s time to reclaim Americanness as inclusive rather than exclusive, as a nationality we wear proudly no matter the color of our skin. The founding fathers started this experiment, now we have to carry it out. African slaves built this country, the Irish built this country, Native Americans built this country, the Chinese built this country, the English built this country — we’ve all played our part, so why not let all of us have our name, no hyphens asked? It doesn’t make sense to have a country with a hyphenated majority. This is America, and I am simply American.

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