May I just say I have a new theory about Iowa?

Over at Vox, Andrew Prokop has a theory about why the Iowa caucuses matter:

Every winner of a competitive major party presidential nomination contest since 1980 except one started off by winning the Iowa caucuses, the New Hampshire primary, or both.

Which would be a great point if you wanted to argue that to eventually win the nomination you have to win one of the first two states. Except that this isn’t what is being argued. Looking at the Vox table, 7 of the 13 nominees won in Iowa. Indeed, starting off like this pretty much gives the game away:

Like it or not, the Iowa results appear to be hugely important in determining who the major parties’ presidential nominees will be — particularly [!] when considered alongside the impact of fellow early state New Hampshire. 

Getting to first base is hugely important in determining whether you will score — particularly when considered alongside the impact of getting to second base.

For extra entertainment, the article is also full of quotes along the lines of “but only x number of people will vote so who cares?”:

“What is the difference between first place and third place in Iowa going to be, 4,000 votes? It’s like a student body election,” says Stuart Stevens, who was Mitt Romney’s chief strategist in 2012.

In the past I have been very unkind* to this type of reasoning. But really: Unless you have a convincing case to make that the people who did vote are not representative of the overall electorate, what’s with the obsession with size? Why not just go all in and remark: “What was the difference between first and second place in Florida in 1992, 537 votes? It’s like a Manhattan co-op board election.”

Throwing out the 4,000 number out there also does a good job of distracting from the fact that 120,000 voted in the 2012 Republican caucus there. This isn’t a large number (unless you were attacked by a group of dogs holding a total of 120,000 bees in their mouths, in which case: run away) — but let’s look at the 10 states that vote after Iowa: New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, Nevada, Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri, Maine, Arizona, and Wyoming. Half of them don’t even come close to matching Iowa’s total number of votes Colorado came closest with 66,027 in 2012).

If you want to argue that the Iowa results “appear [!] to be hugely important in determining who the major parties’ presidential nominees will be,” it would make sense to produce such evidence before moving on to asking me this question 3: 

But why, exactly, does this small-time contest affect the larger race so much?

Personally, I don’t think war is unforeseeable.

* Meaning I have been a total asshole.


Smells Like Leadership

It’s been a long time since Flint Michigan was a prosperous city. At it’s most populous, nearly 200,000 people lived in Flint and 80,000 of them worked for GM. Fifty or sixty years of disinvestment, outsourcing and globalization means that the city barely has 100,000 people of whom only 8,000 are working for GM. That’s why there was a financial crisis in the first place. It’s like Detroit but worse, they are trying to maintain services originally designed for a city twice as large, on a tax base that has been shattered by white flight, disinvestment and relentless hostility towards the well paid union jobs that built the city in the first place. Enter Rick Snyder. Republican governor of the state of Michigan. His signature piece of legislation was a “Emergency Financial Manager” law that allowed him to dismiss the democratically elected municipal government of any local government unit when “probable financial stress” was found and appoint an Emergency Manager. This law was fully and completely rejected by a referendum of the voters in Michigan. Subsequently the bill was re-introduced and passed in a form that was not subject to voter referendum. In practice what this has been is a usurpation of local control, and a disaster for local residents. For a more in depth breakdown I recommend this article: Republicans Trashed Democracy in Michigan. Now They Want To Trash It in Your State, Too. Remember the Detroit water crisis? Where the city of Detroit had almost two hundred million dollars of unpaid water bills outstanding? The reason that suddenly became an emergency instead of an ongoing crisis, is that the Emergency Manager thought it would be a good idea to privatize the water utility and they couldn’t even think about selling an asset with a 175 million dollars of uncollected and frankly uncollectable bills. Detroit Shuts Off Water To Thousands Of Broke Residents The city of Flint got their water from Detroit. The city of Detroit has been raising their water prices in an effort to balance their books. The City of Flint was building a pipeline of their to draw water from Lake Huron in order to not have to buy the suddenly more expensive Detroit water. Until the pipeline was complete, the city of Flint had the option to pay more for water from Detroit, or use the water from the Flint River. The same Flint River that was too corrosive for GM to use for washing auto parts: General Motors shutting off Flint River water at engine plant over corrosion worries. That’s what the Emergency Manager of the city of Flint and Governor Rick Snyder thought was a better choice as revealed in the FOIA requests quoted in this article from the Michigan ACLU Flint Water and the No-Blame Game .

From what I understand, the river water in Flint isn’t particularly clean, but it isn’t contaminated with lead. The lead comes from the ancient waterworks that delivers water to the city’s 100,000+ residents and the ancient plumbing of their housing. Clean treated water doesn’t pull (much) lead out of lead pipes and lead based solder. The witches brew that flows in the Flint river has been contaminated by flowing through what amounts to a 150 year old industrial dump. Flint’s been a manufacturing hub for almost 150 years. The EPA and the clean water act were passed in the early 1970s just when GM was reeling from the energy crisis and foreign competition. They thought it would be easier to shut down Buick city than clean it up and keep operating with union workers, and I’m sure on some balance sheet somewhere it looked great. But by shutting down their factories in Flint, by sourcing their parts from abroad, GM sidestepped their tax obligations to the city that was the cradle of both Buick and Chevrolet. Now of course in addition to lead contamination, the water in the city of Flint is suspected of contributing to an outbreak of Legionnaires disease: Snyder: Flint has seen spike in Legionnaires’ disease

So what does this ongoing train wreck look like to the best minds in journalism today? I couldn’t say. but to Ron Fournier who will never be counted among those ranks, it looks like leadership. A Refreshing Approach to Politics in Michigan in this revolting tongue bath, he paints Rick Snyder as a data driven visionary. A bold leader who can create simple order out of bureaucratic chaos. I see it as something different. I see it as a revolting disregard for human life. I see it as outright hostility to the well being of the residents of Michigan and an all too cozy relationship with the privatize the profits and socialize the costs model of disaster capitalism. It looks pretty similar to outright sabotage of public utilities and schools so that he can sell privatization to the citizens of Michigan as the cure to the ineffectiveness of deliberately mismanaged public institutions.

So that’s what leadership is. Selling out the welfare of the most vulnerable, poisoning an entire city, to create the appearance of fiscal prudence.


Happy New Year

I’d like to look back on a year that in a lot of ways was shit-tastic. 2015 disappointed me in lots of ways. Mass shootings were everywhere in the news, in fact according to some sources they happened at a rate greater than once a day. Want to review the greatest hits? Here you go: mass shootings As a sick complement to that, police shootings are up too. police shootings We lost a bunch of beloved celebrities, among them Leonard Nimoy and Lemmy of Motörhead. The thin mask of humanity covering the GOP was finally discarded as every single candidate for the Republican nomination have gone full Voldemort, every single one of them is cartoonishly evil, they have abandoned their century-old “frugal steward of the public’s funds” pose and gone full austerity sadist. Any program that helps anyone without a billion dollar bank balance is somehow now an unaffordable communist subsidy of people they see as no better than morlocks. And our Democratic candidates are so goddamn timid in their repudiation of the Republican platform that it makes me sick. How hard is it to not be a reluctant apologetic leftist and “bleeding heart liberal”? Get a freaking megaphone and shout at the top of your lungs why being a liberal is the smart, sane and compassionate choice. Pick up a slogan that works like “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” and hit the conservatives over their head with it whenever they freak out about terrorism or ebola or the possibility that some poor person somewhere might be getting helped by the government. Get on every soapbox you can find and hit the republicans over the head with their chummy relationship with the worst people in the world from oil industry titans desperate to stop any kind of action against global warming, to billionaire plutocrats who’d prefer to be autocrats, to evangelical weirdos with dreams of turning the US into a horrifying mix of George Orwell’s 1984 and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s tale, to firearms manufacturers selling home massacre kits under the guise of protecting our 2nd amendment rights.

It’s enough to make me despair. And yet I can’t be the guy that calls for all of the wingnuts and likely Trump voters to be stripped of their voting rights or worse. The conservatives, reactionaries, evangelicals and others who vote reliably republican aren’t space aliens, they aren’t sheep, they aren’t zombies. I don’t know how to reach them though, especially given how many of them seem to think that any attempt to address the issues that are of an actual existential threat to the USA and humanity as a whole are met with accusations of communism or worse. A statistician of my acquaintance introduced me to a saying common in her line of work, “all models lie, but some models are useful” And I think that statement is true across a far broader range of subjects than just statistics. We all have in our heads a model of “how the world works”. But the model in the heads of conservatives is so different from my model it’s hard to believe we both live on the same planet. And since some of the most powerful figures on the right have gained that power through a lifetime of fearmongering and pandering to the worst instincts of the American electorate, none of them are going to be eager to reverse course unless they think they have to.

Even now they are silent on the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge center by the same group of assholes that stood off the feds at the Bundy ranch. It’s not clear to me if they really want to start some shit with the feds or more likely, want more publicity for on line fundraising so they don’t have to go back to their dead end real life jobs. I’m not even going to criticize the Obama administration’s handling of the situation, as I’m sure the last thing they want heading into an election cycle is the publicity disaster of a shootout with a bunch of guys that have been claiming for years that Obama is a tyrant. By not giving them the violent confrontation they are seeking, the Obama administration saps the legitimacy from their movement. The trouble is, that strategy of refusing confrontation can look a lot like weakness. So once again, a fraction of the country is like the Coyote getting outraged that the road runner isn’t stepping into his crude and obvious trap.


Happy Life Day

Sorry for the slow posts, it’s now our other dog’s turn to be sick and in need of ’round the clock care. Here’s hoping the little guy can get better soon.

In other news, there’s a new Star Wars movie out and it’s like 1977 all over again. I assume all of you are wearing corduroy pants and velour shirts with collars big enough to be makeshift airplane hangars, and tube socks up to the knee, to really get the full effect. I saw the new film, I liked it, and I think it’s just about the best Star Wars movie, one could expect out of JJ Abrams. Although I’m still kinda sad they passed over Jodorwsky again. And David Lynch, Woody Allen, Quentin Tarantino,and Werner Herzog too.

So just for fun, how come they can’t show a planet that doesn’t have earth standard 1g of gravity? What about a scene set with the characters wearing spacesuits in space? (the answer to that one is probably “they have droids for that sort of thing”). Now that we’ve seen desert planets and water planets and planets entirely covered by a single city, to extend the single use per planet zoning, are we going to see the strip mall planet? The light industry planet? The offsite data storage planet? The suburb planet? The farm planet? The amusement park planet? The call center planet? Since the Galactic Republic has existed for thousands of years, there have been spacecraft for thousands of years, and more than a few giant space battles, how come these planets aren’t covered by craters from falling space wrecks? Orbital velocity for a planet the same mass and size as earth is 17,000 mph. What keep all those wrecked spaceships, some of which are miles long, from hitting the planet below like the Chixulub meteor that killed the dinosaurs? And that’s not even counting hyperspace accidents, a ship traveling at light speed could pulverize a planet just as well as the Death Star for one billionth of the cost. Or are planets being popped like an overripe pumpkin every other week or so and it’s so common it doesn’t make the news? Why do bad guys keep thinking that blowing up planets is the ultimate expression of military might given that any jackass with an extra hyperspace capable spaceship and a brick to lay on the gas pedal could do the same?

How come every redneck can afford a spaceship, but computer graphics are stuck in the 1970s while at the same time droids are rolling around with human level intelligence and the capability to (for example) speak in six million different languages? They can clone up an entire army but not a hand for Luke Skywalker, or if he had moral qualms, for Darth Vader who sure wouldn’t have?


14 people Are Dead and it’s All About Rod Dreher’s Feelings

Other people have already offered up quicker and no doubt more comprehensive coverage of the massacre in San Bernadino. And yet I am still going to write a post on it because people still kept painting after Leonardo daubed out the Mona Lisa. And if I didn’t keep trying to prop up the moldering remnant of Sadly, No! my supply of theoretical Soros bucks would dry right the hell up.

So a few people shot up a county building in San Bernadino CA yesterday leaving 14 dead and leading to a pair of shootouts with the police that left 2 people dead. I’m told it was actually the second mass shooting yesterday, but I haven’t been able to find details on the first. This is exactly the kind of shit we will see more of until we can control access to firearms in this country. I’ve got some ideas. 100% tax on all firearms and firearm accessories (and devices similar to firearms like bows, crossbows and spear guns) and 1000% tax on ammunition including tools and supplies to manufacture ammunition, and using the proceeds to fund the BATF for more enforcement. Impose the same restrictions on firearm advertisements that already exist for tobacco products. For firearms owners, a maximum of two hunting firearms with a magazine capacity of five or fewer rounds. If they want handguns or non-hunting weapons, that’s where the “well regulated militia part comes into play” they have to qualify on their own dime annually at BATF ranges to a level equal to or exceeding that expected of infantry recruits and maintain a fitness level equal to that of expected of soldiers their age in the National Guard. Owning a firearm should be subject to similar licensure and insurance liability rules as owning a vehicle. Shut down gun shows that sell firearms without a background check. Clamp down on “firearms dealers” that only have the license so they can own a machine gun, or sell out of their home. Require a firearms dealer to operate a storefront, meeting minimum standards of security and record keeping. Gun buybacks. These are we should be doing. These are all examples of concrete action to reduce gun violence and the availability of deadly weapons. That is what we are demanding of our elected leaders, not stale platitudes and or hypocritical appeals to god to reduce violence.

Naturally calls for action from our elected leaders instead of prayer, have Rod Dreher in a tizzy. He calls it ‘prayer shaming’. Prayer Shaming: The View From Jesusland

We have reached the point in our culture in which leading voices on the Left feel compelled to shout from the rooftops condemnation on Christians for offering something as ordinary and decent as prayers for atrocity victims as a first response to news of the killings.

Despite his theatrics, “people” aren’t being shamed for offering prayers. Elected leaders who chose to do nothing but publicly pray instead of doing their goddamn jobs are being shamed. People being paid off by the merchants of hot leaded death are praying in public for healing and an end to violence and think that’s all they have to do. I don’t think the American Left cares that Republicans are appealing to god on this issue like they do on every other freaking issue, it’s who they are, it’s what they do. But on other issues like, for example, abortion or access to affordable health care, they back up their tedious god inspired moralizing with legislative action. Granted, leftists and Democrats are horrified by that legislative action, but they aren’t praying and calling it a job well done. On issues where they actually want to make a change, elected Republicans are happy to pound a Bible and vote. So today Rod Dreher has a sad because people aren’t putting up with that kind of hypocrisy anymore, and once again he pulls out his ‘persecuted christian’ narrative to prove it’s all about him and his hurt feelings, and not the ongoing war on non-bulletproof Americans.


It’s that old cold war feeling again.

Yesterday, Turkish F-16s shot down a Russian SU-24 attack aircraft that they claim violated Turkish airspace. There are conflicting reports on whether or not the crew survived, but right now, the consensus seems to be “no”. We live in interesting times my friends. The niggling fear that Moscow might escalate a touchy international incident into a full blown war, just takes me back to the heady carefree days of the 1980s when shoulder pads were huge and apocalyptic nightmares of nuclear annihilation were the hot retro craze.

From what I gather, Russian forces had been bombing Turkmen (ethnic Turks living in Syria) villages for weeks, and been warned by Turkey for weeks to stop. So, yesterday, the Turks proved they weren’t bluffing. There is an armed group in Turkey formed of mostly of Turkmen, and they have been opposed to the Assad regime since the beginning of the civil war, and according to Robert Farley, ISIS is nowhere near the site. (I Will Send an Su-24 Fencer to Remind You of My Love)
So, what I see here is that for all of the chaos and ill will that ISIS is generating, Turkey and Russia spend more time pursing their own agendas in Syria (for Turkey that means bombing Kurds, for Russia that means dropping dumb bombs on the population centers that oppose the Assad regime) than they do actually fighting ISIS.

Here’s hoping that cooler heads will prevail and that in 20 years time veterans of all sides of this conflict can continue the struggle in a series of hotly contested beach volleyball games organized by humanitarian charities.


The Circle of Death

Some people just want to watch the world burn

Some people just want to watch the world burn

It’s a new day, a new week and a weekend full of deadly bombings. And in the wake of bombings and massacres in Paris, Beirut and Baghdad and a week ago in Kenya, we have to wonder, is this leading up to something? Were these the actions of a few dozen or so wanna-be Gavrilo Princips hoping that they could spark off another great war? I can’t know. I’m just a dumb guy in the Midwest. The only time I’ve ever been to Paris was about nine months before I was born. So, I have a connection to Paris, albeit a remote one. My views on this situation are unlikely to be surprising, i.e. treat it like a criminal investigation, gather evidence arrest people, and repeat until the whole bunch have been rolled up. My advice on what not to do? bomb people indiscriminately. I’m sure the usual gang of right wing idiots are out there saying idiotic shit, but I really don’t care to wade through it and give them the page views.

Just remember, people revert to type when they are scared. Violent people will advocate violent courses of action. And violent courses of action empower violent people. So as a thinking person, am I just the fun house mirror of people like Charles Krauthammer who thinks that every crisis means only two things, that Obama is bad and that we should bomb somebody, preferably Iran? I don’t think so. While I do think that all wars are bad, I also think that some wars need to be fought. I think that western aggression will only serve to make Daesh more legitimate in the eyes of the Muslim world. How many times are western nations going to fall for the “start a war after a terrorist attack” gambit? Does anyone remember WWI? The Second Gulf War? Any kind of plan will last about 20 seconds after the bullets start flying. I don’t freaking understand the people whose first instinct when they see a fire is go grab a can of gasoline and start pouring as fast as they can.

[Sneaky photo edit by OBS]


Shorter Ben Carson

I am not a crank. Also, there are too many states these days. Please eliminate three.”

Rare, un-retouched photo of Ben meditating.

[Credit to, well, everybody since we’re laughing all over the internet, but AFAICT, a M. Bouffant comment at alicublog was the first reference to Ben’s wonderful idiocy.]

‘Shorter’ concept created by Daniel Davies and perfected by Elton BeardWe are aware of all Internet traditions.™


David Brooks is in Love with a Straw Man

So, life continues to be rough, although ever so slightly smoother than a week ago. Someday I hope to be able to visit South Africa in time to eat the strawberries. That day will not be soon. Unless one of my loyal readers is able to hire me for the all expenses paid position of world traveling seasonal produce taster. Which would be a pretty good gig, I imagine. However, here, in this world, I get the opportunity to offer my thoughts on one of David Brooks’ latest columns

A sensible version of…

David Brooks wants to vote for a political outsider. But not the actual political outsiders that are running, No, they are far too populist, far too crass, far too willing to try and get actual Republican voters to send them money and eventually vote for them. David Brooks has fashioned a Mary Sue political outsider that has all of the opinions and policy preferences of David Brooks, and he’s eager to throw his vote for this being of pure David Brooksian wish fulfillment. So let us play in the ivory tower of David Brooks’ fondest imaginings and track mud all over the carpets.

As a Broderesque windbag from way back, David Brooks has a naive faith in the power of bipartisanship, that would be understandable in a bright ten year old, but is utterly inexcusable in someone who has watched politics in action in the US for more than one election cycle. As he imagines candidate Totally not David Brooks would say:

But I’ve been paying close attention and it seems to me that of all the problems that face the nation, two stand out. The first is that we have a polarized, dysfunctional, semi-corrupt political culture that prevents us from getting anything done. To reverse that gridlock we’ve got to find some policy area where there’s a basis for bipartisan action.

The second big problem is that things are going badly for those in the lower half of the income distribution.

Well, there’s his first problem. He thinks that the two big problems in the US are 1)bipartisanship and 2)tough times for the poorest half of Americans. The big trouble is, no one agrees with him. Republicans variously think the biggest threat to America, is in no particular order: the perfidy of Democrats, secular humanism, socialism, immigration, ISIS and or Muslim terrorism, Obamacare, Social Security and Medicare, etc ad nauseum. Democrats tend to think the biggest problems are in no particular order: the terrible state of education, the terrible state of infrastructure, income inequality, the corruption of Republicans, racism & sexism, maintenance and expansion of the social safety net including the expansion of Medicare, Social Security & Obamacare. David Brooks imagines there is a broad overlap of issues upon which legislators of good will can agree. The biggest mistake of this approach is that he imagines there exists a majority in congress of legislators of good will. Legislators of good will can’t get the time of day from much of the American electorate. There is much less agreement on the issues facing America than he imagines. Hell, even the conservative half of the lower 50% of incomes in America probably think they are a lottery ticket or one oppressive government regulation away from getting rich.

He goes on to say that getting families out of “bad neighborhoods” and into good ones will improve their incomes. You know what? he says a lot of superficially sensible horseshit. He found a study that says taking people out of bad neighborhoods and putting them in more affluent neighborhoods eventually makes them more prosperous. Which he thinks is some kind of answer to poverty. And it might be if poverty in America was a guy named Doug and his wife and two or three kids. But the poorest half of Americans number over 150 million people, and people live where they do for reasons sometimes they’d be delighted to move to a place with more economic opportunity, sometimes they will cling to their homes with a tenacity that borders on suicidal. What do you suppose David Brooks has to say to convince people to move whose families have been living in the same house for more than a century? What could he offer to induce people to move away from their beloved relatives? People aren’t as mobile as some giant bank’s hedge fund’s investment portfolio. There are non-trivial barriers to moving, and its rare that households can pick up and go on a whim (or on the advice of David Brooks which amounts to even less than a whim). Mr Brooks imagines that there is bipartisan consensus on improving the lot of the poorest Americans when an entire party gets reelected in landslides promising to cut services to that exact same demographic. Has he ever lived in a suburb? Has he ever heard the term ‘block busting’? how does he imagine the wealthy suburbanites will react to the arrival of the very same people their parents and their grandparents fled the cities to avoid?

He spouts more advice:

This will mean doing some things Republicans like. We’ve got to devolve a lot of power from Washington back to local communities. These neighborhoods can’t thrive if they are not responsible for themselves. Then we’ve got to expand charter schools. The best charter schools radiate diverse but strong cultures of achievement. Locally administered social entrepreneurship funds could help churches and other groups expand their influence.

Where the hell does he get this? How does he go from wanting to improve neighborhoods to imagining that charter schools are the answer? And as an atheist, I gotta object to his “empowering churches” crap, churches already get far too many giveaways from the government, and in any kind of benevolent utopia such as David seems to want to construct, they’d be paying income and property tax just like everyone else. If churches want to do things commonly described as charity like feeding the hungry and healing the sick, that’s fine they can get a tax deduction for that, just like everyone else.

I could fisk the whole thing, but I find the thought more than a little depressing. His whole dream could be popped by watching 10 minutes of C-span when they show congress in session, but he can’t be bothered. He’s like professor Harold Hill in the ‘Music Man’ only instead of bewailing the morals of a pool playing public and trying to sell musical instruments, he’s bewailing the fact that society doesn’t mirror the land of frictionless sphere-people of uniform density that live in his head and trying to sell us straw men.
So, play to your strengths David Brooks, go in with a computer game publisher and write sim-suburb where the only way to win is to build the most heteronormative, theocratic, charter-school-attending, gated community, little Galt’s gulch that you can. In the meantime, could you stop telling us how to win the game in your head?


How does morality work?

It’s time again. Victor Davis Hanson wrote another column. To be fair, he writes columns faster than I can compose my criticism of them, but I never said he was lazy. His most recent column “Moral Equivalence in the Middle East” Moral Equivalence in the Middle East should start ringing warning bells at the first word. If VDH has shown any understanding of morals more sophisticated than “winners write the histories” I haven’t seen it. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that’s his only understanding of morals, and he thinks it’s a statement of how reality is defined rather than a sad commentary on the veracity of the histories we read and a reminder that the so called ‘bad guys’ of history rarely get a chance to put their version of events in front of the serious student of history. So anyways, VDH is very concerned that when Palestinians assault Jews in Israel, and are machine gunned down in response, that it makes Israeli security and police look like bloodthirsty butchers in the eyes of the newsreading public. Here is a representative paragraph from the column, it will provide us more than enough to go on.

In short, the present U.S. government — which is subsidizing the Palestinians to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year [1]— is incapable of distinguishing those who employ terrorist violence from the victims against whom the terrorism is directed. [2] But why is the Obama administration — which can apparently distinguish those who send out drones from those who are blown up by them on the suspicion of employing terrorist violence — morally incapable of calling out Palestinian violence?[3] After all, in the American case, we blow away suspects whom we think are likely terrorists; in the Israeli instance, they shoot or arrest those who have clearly just committed a terrorist act.[4]

So [1] since when does the US government send a dime to Palestine? OK, fine 20 seconds with google tells me that in recent years we send about $400 million in foreign aid annually to Palestine. But to be fair, we have to look at the other side too, because right now we are in the middle of a ten year aid package to Israel with a total value of $30 billion, much of which is allowed or even encouraged to be spent on weapons.

[2] Now we go to his claim that the US can’t tell the difference between terrorism and victims of terrorism. Has he seen what Gaza looks like these days? Do a Google image search for Gaza. you’ll see piles of rubble, you’ll see explosions, you’ll see corpses, and you see victims. How are they terrorists and the Israelis that are determined to level the place terrorists? Is he letting the victors write the histories again? does he think that the Israelis can magically turn the corpses of families into dead terrorists with a single disingenuous press release? Dead civilians are dead civilians and no amount of Palestinians attacking Israelis with knives is going to turn them into the Wehrmacht part II. But what about the rocket attacks? don’t those count as terrorism? Well they sure are scary. But when hastily erected launchers manage to do more than wreck someone’s garage give me a call. The Gaza strip is tiny. If Israel spent a tiny fraction of the money they spend on “Iron Dome” and air raids on a few hundred guys with binoculars and maybe night vision goggles, they could stop each and every rocket attack in the setup phase.

[3] He’s got the Obama administration dead to rights here. Drones are even less discriminate that some goon with a machine gun. Killing the occasional wedding party or family gathering is too high a price to pay for maybe killing a some guy unreliable allies tell us is a terrorist once in a while. Even VDH isn’t wrong all the time.

[4] Way to hand wave away the difference between assault and attempted murder and terrorism. Or better yet, show that there isn’t a difference. The press are highlighting a pointless murder circle jerk where radical Palestinians react to violent oppression with violence and inspire even more violent reaction from their oppressors. This is the kind of violence that would have made Al Pacino’s Scarface call for a time out followed by a nap and some level headed discussion.

VDH is trying to explain that genocide is a perfectly acceptable response to terrorism. VDH is not using any kind of moral code that I would recognize as such. According to him, the only answer to violence is more violence. And to him I say “Way to go, jackass.” Now it’s Palestine Delenda Est. What’s next, Lebanon, North Korea, Russia? Way to excuse conquest and oppression, and way to call for the peace of “no one left alive.” That isn’t peace, that’s a call for the war to end all wars, and human life on earth.