Monday, July 21

All those AIDS researchers' cell phones...

NYT writer Roger Cohen has some thoughts about the aftermath of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17:

“Swift recovery of the victims’ remains is now an absolute necessity and our highest priority,” Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, said in a statement. “I am shocked by the images of completely disrespectful behavior at this tragic place.” He spoke to Putin to express his outrage.

That was pretty much it. Bodies rot in the sun for days. They are stashed in plastic bags in refrigerated railroad cars at a fly-infested station. The black box is a fungible bargaining chip. Louts go looting. It’s a free-for-all! Official investigation teams are barred at the perimeter. Putin spins implausible yarns robed in ghastly official formulas. His plausible deniability is utterly implausible.

A Dutch writer, Sidney Vollmer, addressed a bitter letter to Rutte thanking him for preserving the moral high ground of the Dutch, for “not rushing in for a bunch of rotting corpses” as “their wallets and iPhones make it all the way” to Moscow. The corpses, anyway, “will vanish into the fog of war” and, as everyone knows, “we need Gazprom.”
President Vladimir Putin of Russia has been playing with fire. His irredentism has made him a hero in Russia. It has endangered the world. Crimea was the swaggering precedent to this crime. The shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 amounts to an act of war. It was impromptu perhaps, but still. Dutch corpses have rained down on the sunflowers and cornfields of eastern Ukraine, to be defiled even in death, 193 innocent Dutch souls dishonored by the thugs of the Donetsk People’s Republic.

“This is murder, mass murder. Let’s call it what it is,” said Julian Lindley-French, a defense analyst who lives in the small Dutch village of Alphen. “Shock is turning to anger here,” he told me, “and that anger will resonate in the coming weeks. This is the beginning of a period of complex torture for the Netherlands.”

The Dutch response has been of tip-toeing deference to Moscow. As for the European Union, it has been near-nonexistent. When crisis comes, Europe vanishes — the ghost that slithers away. The West has become an empty notion. The Dutch trade a lot with Russia. Europe floats along in a bubble of quasi pacifism. Better to be bullied than belligerent. Nobody wants the guns of August.
This mass murder is an outrage that should not stand. Falling military budgets have reduced the Dutch special forces to a paltry remnant. Russia would veto any United Nations Security Council Resolution authorizing force for a limited mission to recover the bodies and the evidence. But Ukraine, on whose territory the debris and dead lie, would support it. The American, British, Dutch and Australian governments should set an ultimatum backed by the credible threat of force demanding unfettered access to the site.
Cohen concludes:
The self-styled Donetsk People’s Republic stares down Mark Rutte. The deathly poppy fields of 1914 give way to the deathly sunflower fields of 2014. Dutch flowers wing around the globe, still, a thriving trade.

A reader, Katherine Holden, sent me a poem called “The Flowering of Death.” She writes: “Velvet leaves and sturdy stems transient graves for children mothers lovers doctors teachers fathers students artists siblings seekers fallen from the darkening sky. Flesh-fed rain.”

Everyone wants the suns of August. Summer vacations rule. Nobody wants the guns — and damn the bigger guns appeasement may bring.

Playing Cleanup.

WaPo writer Jackson Diehl shrugs his shoulders and assumes nothing has changed after the latest in Gaza. He assumes Americans will once again be involved "making peace".

I think Americans are tiring of this process, and don't see a military victory coming in a densely populated civilian area. We are not so convinced of the Israeli victimhood, and tire of reading of the deaths. This is your solution? Long term?

The depressing reality is that this Gaza conflict is headed toward a familiar ending: many people killed but little changed. Israel most likely will avoid toppling Hamas from power in Gaza, since it does not want to go back to ruling the territory itself.
Netanyahu used the occasion of the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers last month to arrest scores of Hamas operatives in the West Bank, a measure that sabotages the unity process.
Israel is arguably under greater international pressure than it was in 2008. The boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement has grown more visible since then. However, it’s still a marginal phenomenon, particularly in the United States.
A smart U.S. strategy would aim at brokering a deal between Israel, Abbas and Hamas whereby prisoners are released and the blockade on Gaza eased in exchange for Hamas’s commitment to a long-term cease-fire and free and fair elections for a unified Palestinian government. The result could be ...
A wise man builds his house upon a Rock. Plans for his future, and understands he cannot have it all. Land or security. Enemies or neighbors. If you have two coats and your neighbor is shivering, take one off and give it to him. If your neighbor is hungry and you have plenty, share your bounty. This we know.

I don't think Americans understand the futility of paying to rebuild and help a people, then bombing them to smithereens every 4 or 5 years or so. We tire of your status quo survival -- it's like living from paycheck to paycheck, thinking you are living rich while it's all precariously perched on a weakening foundation.

Until Israel begins divesting of some of her takings, and working to help her neighbors prosper and not decline, I suspect in time more Americans will quietly discontinue support until the region is settled in peace.

Gun Death,,,

Claims PrawfsBlawg Founder Dan Markel, 41, at Home in Florida.
ADDED: Here's a nice tribute... and investigation update from the Tallahassee Democrat. Markel and his wife both taught at FSU Law.

Sunday, July 20

Garbly Gook.

The NYT editorial board has strung together a hodgepodge of phrases, shaming and pretty words.

But until they address the American people's genuine concerns -- and there are many -- they are preaching to the choir. (With borrowed words.)

The crisis of young migrants at the Texas border is a test of American values, one of those surprise exams that history now and then throws our way: Here are 57,000 helpless children. We are a nation of 300 million. Do we spit on them, or give them blankets and beds?*

It is a test that many are flunking. In Arizona, no surprise, people are losing their minds. Hearing that migrant children were being sent to the town of Oracle, a county sheriff instigated a protest that ensnared a busload of bewildered YMCA campers. A disbarred former county attorney running for governor has an ad showing a Mexican flag swallowing up a map of Arizona and the slogan “Before It’s Too Late.”

The fever is hot in other states, too: Graffiti denouncing “illeagles” in Maryland. A mayor whipping up a bus blockade in Murrieta, Calif. The call going out on YouTube for militias to get their weapons and boots, and man up to keep the little ones on their side of the river.

In Congress, which gave up on creating an orderly immigration system, Republicans are watching President Obama struggle to get a handle on the problem ...

As the crisis emboldens demagogues in Washington, Mr. Obama has the obligation to act the grown-up ...

This volatile situation demands courage and calm. Mr. Obama has the calm, but does he have the courage? ...

With Republicans in a frenzy, public support for immigrants is being tested. Leadership is needed.

The president, who has sought $3.7 billion from Congress for humanitarian and legal aid to migrant children, has the better argument. He has every right to defend his policies on moral as well as practical grounds, to confront the Tea Party’s fear and loathing with a call to treat traumatized children as refugees and protect them from harm.
It would be good to see Mr. Obama join other Democrats and Republicans in making the moral and legal case for compassionate action, to lead a backlash against the nativist backlash.
Keep this up -- pretending that we don't listen to the people of America, we lead them to righteousness, nevermind the cost or practicalities; that's for the little people to figure out... Praise the president!

I can't think of a better way to put more and more Republicans in office than to keep preaching such arrogance and to continue ignoring the honest issues in favor of status quo shaming. Enjoy it while you can, I guess.

* It's good to see the New York Times begin the missionary drive raising private funds to settle these children and families. I understand they've assigned young A.G. Sulzberger to lead the drive, for the good of the country.

The first $5 million in private funds from the family is expected to be matched by staffers forgoing a bit of their weekly paychecks, and some of the top-paid talents forgoing funding their retirement accounts until the crisis at our southern borders have passed.

I remember when our Church sponsored a family of Vietnames "boat people" in the early 8os. They grew with the people of the parish, and we welcomed them the best we could.

It's wonderful to see a private company step up during these times of need, to put just a little patch on a problem that obviously needs bigger government mending. But because we were caught so offguard -- we sadly failed to recognize these needs until the children reached our doorsteps -- as the editorial notes, like a pop quiz, it is good to see who responds...

and who squawks at others to "do something! do something! mira, mira --- needy children!" as if they'd never before encountered such creatures.

ADDED: The worst thing you could probably do to these children is to give them false hope. The sad truth is... under the law, many of them will be returning to family back in their home countries. Pretending that once they are here, they will be staying is wrong.

Pretending that some great miracle will occur, politically or within the legal system, that will allow all or even a majority of these humans to qualify for refugee status is just not realistic. We can pretend the people will be "led" to such a solution, but they won't.

Why not put the best interests of the children first, and stop playing them as pawns? I'd like to see the well-meaning writers on the editorial board address that.

Summer Vacation.

Rahm Emanuel and Amy Rule's son visited the Western Wall years ago for his bar mitzvah, I remember.

Jerusalem was star struck over the weekend, as Hollywood couple Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas arrived Thursday in Israel, local media reported.

The glamorous duo brought their children, too. Indeed, the purpose of their under-the-radar visit to the holy land was part of the bar-mitzvah celebrations for their first-born, Dylan Michael.
The merry-makers also took the time for a tour of the city, including a visit to the Temple Mount tunnels and to other holy sites, Israeli media reported.

Israeli Soldier from Los Angeles Killed in Gaza.

By Lauren Raab

A Los Angeles man was one of the Israeli soldiers killed in Gaza this weekend as fighting intensified. Max Steinberg was a Woodland Hills native and voluntarily joined the Israel Defense Forces, according to the Jewish Journal. According to voter records, he was 24 years old.

Steinberg graduated from El Camino Real high school in 2008, studied at Pierce College, joined the Israeli army in 2012 and was a sharpshooter in the Golani Brigade, his Facebook page says.
ADDED: An Israeli-American, from Texas, was reportedly killed alongside Steinberg.
The Texan was identified as Sean Carmeli, according to an article on the website JPUPDATES.
Carmeli was from the town of South Padre, Texas, according to his Facebook page. He attended Saint Joseph Academy, a private high school located north of the city of Brownsville, Texas. He was currently living in Ra'anana, Israel.

The two soldiers were part of a team of seven Israeli soldiers who were killed in the attack by the anti-tank missile that was fired from a home in Gaza, according to JPUPDATES.

RIP James Garner.

We loved him best in the Polaroid commercials.

Flame Throwers and Stink.

The Pacific theater is often an understudied part of WWII, compared to the European front and Holocaust history. Still, I wonder if anyone remembers reading how U.S. warships pounded Iwo Jima for days before the American ground invasion.

Marines could not believe anything was left living, but soon found out otherwise.

For weeks, they battled to take the island, from the enemy soldiers who had dug in and were fighting like gophers: Pop up, take out a soldier or two, back into the tunnel to pop up somewhere else. At night, they would often sneak into foxholes and brutally kill American soldiers* -- one at a time, so the numbers added up.

I can't help but reading of the Israeli incursion in Gaza: the toll is adding up, and wonder how Israel will extricate her soldiers from this one. Either way it seems, they lose. As the civilian bodies pile up on the streets... as long as even a skeleton crew of Hamas fighters survive... Palestine wins, no?

GAZA CITY — Sixty Palestinians were killed Sunday in a heavy bombardment of a Gaza neighborhood and 13 Israeli soldiers were slain in clashes in the most intense day of fighting in Israel’s ongoing offensive against Hamas fighters, officials said.

The casualties brought the total number of Israeli military deaths to 18 since the armed forces launched a ground operation Thursday after days of airstrikes on the coastal strip, the Israeli military said.
Israel pummeled a neighborhood in east Gaza overnight Sunday, producing gruesome images of bodies in the streets amid masses of rubble. The Gaza Health Ministry said 60 Palestinians were killed in the fighting.

Thousands of panicked residents were pouring out of the area in mass flight Sunday morning. The scene at Shifa Medical Center, Gaza’s main hospital, was chaotic. Ambulance drivers reported great difficulty entering the east Gaza town called Shijaiyah, which bore the brunt of continuous fire.

After a brief lull at dawn, midmorning Sunday saw an increase of artillery and tank shelling. Explosions sounded closer to the center of Gaza City, and the sky was filled with Israeli drones witnessing the exodus of civilians.
Capt. Eytan Buchman, an Israeli military spokesman, said that the military had no intention of reoccupying Gaza and that the main objective of the ground offensive hadn’t changed: to destroy the tunnel network and rocket launchers that Hamas militants have used to attack Israel.

“We’ve expanded the forces on the ground in order to accomplish that mission,” Buchman said. “All of Gaza is an underground city, and the amount of infrastructure Hamas built up over the years is immense. There are tunnels, extended bunkers, weapons storage facilities, even within urban areas.”
The Palestinian death toll from the conflict rose Saturday to more than 330, including about 60 children, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. An additional 2,200 have been injured. The United Nations estimates that 80 percent of the casualties are civilians, many of them children.

Now that Israeli soldiers are actually dying in the fight and they got a real war going, you have to wonder if at some point, the cost of these continual incursions will seem so worth it.

(Fwiw, plenty of those Marines who fought for Iwo looked back later and calculated, for the price paid in young mens' lives, the real estate simply was not worth it.)

* This tactic sounds familiar:
In an audacious attack Saturday, Hamas fighters dressed in Israeli army uniforms slipped from central Gaza into Israel through a tunnel and attacked an Israeli army patrol, killing two soldiers and injuring two. The army returned fire, killing one militant and forcing the rest back through the tunnel into the Palestinian territory.
The militants’ resilience seemed to upend the narrative provided by Israel of a Hamas severely weakened by the Israeli ground offensive, airstrikes, artillery barrages and the ongoing destruction of its tunnel network.

Re. "A Popular President"

No mystery...
I think the voting public honestly believed Bill Clinton represented the American people and their interests.
That's it, in a nutshell.

(He might have failed in his outlook on things like NAFTA, and made grave misjudgments and mistakes... he might even possess an extremely immature and narcissistic personality still, but this trumps all that: I think the voting public honestly believed Bill Clinton represented the American people and their interests.)

Time is of the Essence.

It's like the missing schoolgirls, and the desperate cry for action that came... three weeks too late.

Every minute that passes makes the crash scene harder and harder to contain. And will make it more and more difficult to track the bodies.

HRABOVE, Ukraine (AP) — Armed rebels forced emergency workers to hand over all 196 bodies recovered from the Malaysia Airlines crash site and had them loaded Sunday onto refrigerated train cars bound for a rebel-held city, Ukrainian officials and monitors said.

The surprising, rapid-fire developments Sunday morning came after a wave of international outrage over how the bodies of plane crash victims were being handled and amid fears that the armed rebels who control the territory where the plane came down could be tampering with the evidence.
Associated Press journalists saw reeking bodies baking in the summer heat Saturday, piled into body bags by the side of the road or still sprawled where they landed in the verdant farmland in eastern Ukraine after their plane was shot out of the sky.

By Sunday morning, AP journalists saw no bodies and no armed rebels at the crash site. Emergency workers were searching the sprawling fields only for body parts.

It was immediately not clear Sunday if the rebels and the Ukrainian government were working together or at odds with each other on recovering the bodies — and from their comments, many of officials didn't appear to know either.
Is the world busy mobilizing a Twitter Feed? #BringBackTheirBodies will only do so much.
Time for the grownups to get busy, in the real world. Let the children twitter and tweet, safely in the shadows. That kind of mobilizing action might be popular online, but not at the expense of the real stuff....
Alexander Pilyushny, an emergency worker combing the crash site for body parts Sunday morning, told the AP it took the rebels several hours Saturday to cart away the bodies. He said he and other workers had no choice but to hand over the bodies.

"They are armed and we are not," Pilyushny said.
Earlier, Ukrainian Emergency Ministry spokeswoman Nataliya Bystro said workers at the crash site were forced to hand over the 196 bodies they had recovered to the armed rebels. "Where they took the bodies — we don't know," Bystro told the AP

This Big Dog Will Act, If You Rattle His Cage...

The rebels, the separatists, the majority, the ruling party... who can keep them all straight?  And whose side are we on anyway?

I do know this:  I hope the president is working Sundays.
I think many realistic Americans -- despite the macho bravado/a policy actions of the past few administrations -- understand that we use force sparingly, but wisely.

If we can't work with our allies now, and the U.N.,
to immediately send in an elite team of militarily trained rescue units to this territory, to bring back all the bodies/body parts of passengers found on the ground from the shot-down plane, why do we even play at being soldiers?  Now is the time.  This is appropriate.  In and out.  Mission defined.  Bring back the bodies.  Negotiate if you must, or else act.  Boom, boom, boom, boom...

Ukrainian emergency responders, working under the watchful eyes of armed rebels, had recovered 196 bodies from the area where Flight 17, a Boeing 777 carrying 298 passengers and crew from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, crashed and burned on Thursday afternoon.

But the responders were forced to turn the bodies over to the separatists, Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council, said at a briefing in Kiev on Sunday. Mr. Lysenko said officials believed that 38 of those bodies were taken to the morgue in Donetsk, a regional capital that is controlled by separatists.
Michael Bociurkiw, the leader of an observer mission from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (O.S.C.E.), said that most of the bodies had been placed in three refrigerated railroad cars in the town of Torez, not far from the crash site. He said that monitors were told that 167 bodies were in the cars, which were locked but under the control of rebels from the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, one of the main separatist groups.

Monitors were permitted to make a brief inspection, Mr. Bociurkiw said, speaking by phone from eastern Ukraine, and the body bags all appeared to have tags on them. “We were escorted to the railway station by heavily armed guards of the Donetsk People’s Republic,” he said.

“They are the ones in charge of that area.”
National security interest?  A worthy moral cause.
Soldiers don't shoot down civilian planes in accident, and then keep the bodies of non-involved victims.  That's not "war" behavior.  We need not intervene in a Ukraine/Russia civil war between majority and minority factions.  We wouldn't even be taking responsibility for determining the cause.

Simply bring back the bodies.  If our technology and equipment is worth anything, and our diplomatic investments not for naught, America should be able to use a bit of muscle and get this done. Nothing more. Body recovery, whatever it takes.

Even if our soldiers die. This is one mission that we would need not look back on in shame for our country or our troops. In and out. Get 'er done.

Today -- rotting body parts can't wait, and we all know how the talk can drag on and on ... while people sit on the sidelines and wait.
Secretary of State John Kerry in a telephone conversation on Saturday with the Russian foreign minister, Sergey S. Lavrov, urged Russia to help control the situation at the crash scene and help put an end to the insurrection in east Ukraine by pressing rebels to lay down arms.

“The Secretary particularly stressed the international call for investigators to receive full, immediate, and unfettered access to the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash site,” the State Department said, describing Mr. Kerry’s remarks,

“The United States is also very concerned about reports that the remains of some victims and debris from the site are being tampered with or inappropriately removed from the site,” the department added.

In a statement on Saturday,
the Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, whose country lost 193 of its citizens aboard the plane, urged the speedy return of bodies and expressed outrage at the lack of control over the site.

“Swift recovery of the victims’ remains is now an absolute necessity and our highest priority,” Mr. Rutte said in the statement.

A Sunday Smile.

We'll pare this picture with Ross Douthat's column today.* It's a different subset of America, one I'm glad only to read about...

The Few, The Proud, The Parents!

* Luckily, with America's changing demographics, I don't think a good majority of the public will be worrying about overprotected kids or busy-body competitive parenting in the future -- that will fall to the smaller subsets, I think.

Saturday, July 19

Seriously... in 3-D?

HT: Bobby @BobbyRobertsPDX

Whoever captured that picture, thank you, I am still laughing. So topical for the weekend too!

Whoever you are, wherever you're at,
I wish you a peaceful and happy, relaxing and wonderful, simple mid-July weekend, starting with this Saturday morning.
It really doesn't get any better than this (weatherwise) ...

in 4-D!
ADDED: My second biggest laugh of the day:
Maybe they admire his vegan body,” said David Axelrod impishly ...
Hmmmm... no.
Read the whole thing.

Friday, July 18

All Creatures, Great and Small...

This story is getting a lot of negative internet attention.  The young woman sounds immature, yet she thinks she is a good provider, because she was sufficiently emotional and paid money to bring her dog to the vet for expensive high-end treatments, instead of taking more common sense approaches.

As an adult, I got my dogs from rescue organizations, secretly judging friends who bought theirs from breeders.
For a long time, it was a point of pride for me. When I brought home Mookie in 2000, everyone told me how lucky I was to find such a sweet animal. The 18-pound Boston terrier mix adored every person he met. He chased frogs in my condo complex and loved to play with stuffed animals. He was more loyal and loving—not to mention happier to see me—than any of my dates.

When my job kept me in the office for long hours, I decided to get Mookie a buddy, Yogi. I loved him deeply. But just six months after adoption, Yogi was diagnosed with cancer. I didn’t balk at the expense and time it took to drag him to oncology appointments to treat his lymphoma. The chemo was supposed to buy me an extra year with him. Considering a dog’s average lifespan, that could mean 10 percent of his life.
And Yogi defied the odds. He hung on for nearly three years before passing away.  I didn’t handle his death well. Just three weeks later, I replaced him with a pug named Clarence.
Poor, simple-minded Clarence. He frequently planted himself halfway through the doggie door, unable to decide between sunbathing on the patio and sleeping under the air conditioning vent. Every time I came home, he cried as if I were a soldier returning from war.

Clarence looked like Yogi, but the only thing they had in common was a penchant for serious health issues. I kept telling myself that at least Clarence didn’t have cancer. But his problems were almost worse. His epilepsy was difficult to control, and the phenobarbital he took to subdue his seizures caused weight gain, liver deterioration and anxiety. I got tired of veterinary specialists focusing on the fact that he was fat rather than helping me figure out how to get the dog to sleep at night.
Weight gain in a small creature really does affect their health -- you're asking the frame to carry extra pounds, which puts more effort into walking and moving, which can affect the daily elimination process, and strain the joints and tendons.  If multiple vets tell you your pet needs to lose weight:  there just might be something scientific there, particularly if you're feeding them a lot of rich, "people food"...

Instead of buying pills and paying for more and more visits and treatments, why not try the simple remedy, like regulating diet and spending more time and attention letting them be animals:  running, rolling, resting, eating simple, and drinking as much water as they can.

I've always praised Buddy when he's lapping away at the water bowl, while we're together in the kitchen:  "Good boy, Buddy, drinking his water!  Buddy is a smart dog; Buddy is a strong dog;  Buddy is a good dog;  Buddy is the buddy-boy dog!"  He knows the repetition by  now, he seems to like the praise, and he seems to drink longer when he's encouraged.* 

He likes river water, lake water, and this year, I've seen him lapping at large puddles, and you know what?  Since there's no oil sheen, and it's fresh, clean-looking rainwater, I let him.  Just for a short time, when we're out -- he's obviously thirsty, and I like to think most dogs are smarter than us about what they're willing to ingest.  If it smells bad, or is stagnant, their instinct is to turn away.  They're animals (as are we, really) and their instincts are very often sharper than ours.

I couldn't imagine giving Phenobarbital to an 18-pounder, without considering what toll that would take on the rest of its body.  Common sense.  I also wonder, like so many of the mentally ill boys whose families have the wealth to provide toys like high-powered guns and cars, if time, time, time, and more directed hands-on, individualized attention would not help some of these animals and children.

It sounds to me like this woman didn't much treat her animals like dogs.  More like toys, or playthings.  Nothing wrong with being a dog.  With meeting their basic animal needs.  Do they really like playing "dress up", more than once or twice, do you think?  Do you see that in the feral animal kingdom?  Do you take into account your dogs' daily needs -- walking, waiting while he sniffs and marks, getting him off lease to sprint and play, chase other animals who have their own safety defenses (up the tree, in the air, into the water) -- if they can be in a full sprint, drop and roll on their backs, then back on the feet again racing to catch up with you, all the time with the tongue out, the eyes alight, and I swear, a smile on their canine faces... that's a happy healthy animal!

Too often, young women seem to want a pet as a step up from Teddy Bears, and kind of a baby substitute.  Nope, they're animals.  Just like us.  With basic physical needs (pooping daily, nutritious foods, fresh air, healthy circulation, rest.)

If you can't give them this,
then spending all the money in the world to fix the problems caused by the lack of basics doesn't mean you're a responsible owner.  It means, perhaps, there's no so  much wrong with dogs adopted from shelters as it is the quality of care you're providing in the home.  You have to be open to that possibility though -- that it's you, not all of them -- and clearly this woman's ego is not yet there:
As a lifelong dog lover, I know how to care for sick and struggling animals better than most. I accepted my dogs as they were, enjoying their sweetness and suffering through their problems. But just because I was willing to do that doesn’t mean it’s my life’s work to heal every sick, helpless animal.
Adopting a shelter dog is a lot of work, and it’s a gamble, especially for those who aren’t responsible enough or don’t have the time and resources (emotional and financial) to devote to the animal.
I got news for her: even a purchased pet needs an owner (not a parent) with common sense of caring for animals, who are not playthings or mini-people.
* You know what? They're eager to please.  I used to run him and run him early on, when Mal pointed out to me, "Mary, take it easy.  He'll go and go and go to keep up with you, even if he's tired and should rest.  He love you and just wants to make you happy.  He'll exhaust himself if you let him."

Point taken. I eased up, and started to take his needs and timing into account.  Like smart parents seem to do in planning activities for young children.  Set limitations.  Understand their routines and physical needs.  Then, you'll likely spend less money and time at the vets, especially if you can get over the mentality that "just paying a lot in doctor/vet bills = the best care, responsible ownership."

Not necessarily...

Devaluing Life.

I guess, things like this are to be easily accepted in our militant "might is right" world of today.  But the president's lack of understanding, lack of gravitas, in responding to the situation is embarrassing.

"Before I begin, obviously the world is watching reports of a downed passenger jet near the Russia-Ukraine border. And it looks like it may be a terrible tragedy. Right now we’re working to determine whether there were American citizens on board. That is our first priority.

And I've directed my national security team to stay in close contact with the Ukrainian governemnt. The United States will offer any assistance we can to help determine what happened and why. And as a country, our thoughts and prayers are with all the families and passengers, wherever they call home. "

Obama then jarringly quickly returned to his prepared remarks. 
"I want to thank Jeremie for that introduction' he said. 'Give Jeremie a big round of applause.  It is great to be in the state that gave us Joe Biden. We’ve got actually some better-looking Bidens with us here today.  We've got Beau and his wife, Hallie, are here. Give them a big round of applause. We love them."
Obama also acknowledged the presence of Treasury Secretary Jack Lew with a joke.

"Jack Lew’s signature is actually on your money,' he said, 'although it's kind of illegible. We teased him when he first became treasury secretary that he was going to have to fix his signature a little bit because it looked just like a caterpillar running along the bottom."

From there he launched into a 16-minute speech about transportation projects he wants Republicans to fund, complaining bitterly about their objections to his end-runs around the federal legislature.

"When I have a chance to help communities like Wilmington, I’m going to do it," he said, as cable news networks focused on the lives lost in Eastern Ukraine.

"That’s when my administration takes these executive actions, when Congress won’t act. And so far, the only response we’ve gotten from the Republicans is a lawsuit. They're suing me for doing my job, instead of going ahead and doing their job."

"That's disappointing," Obama said. "It’s a political stunt."
More and more,
I wonder if we'll ever again elect a junior senator to the top office in the land, based on identity politics.

Yep, he's still the nation's first black president.  But folks with their eyes open are seeing the skin color matters little in many of the issues a president is called upon in doing his job.  Experience matters more.

Maybe it will all be for the best.  All those who were looking to "make history" by looking past the resume --the track record of leadership-- are getting what they voted for:  a black president of promise.  What they didn't get was a seasoned political leader, capable of shining even in the worst moments and inspiring confidence in his abilities.

Some of us -- who grew up in integrated schools, communities, and workforces -- were simply hoping for more...

Thursday, July 17

Getting Hitched in the Conch Republic.

Imagine:  a sunset wedding on Islamorada, barefoot with sand in your toes, and Key Lime pie for dessert. Looks like the law has finally caught up to mellow reality in the Keys:
Monroe County Circuit Judge Luis Garcia overturned Florida’s 2008 constitutional gay-marriage ban on Thursday, and ordered that two Key West bartenders and other gay couples seeking to wed be allowed to marry.

The judge gave the Monroe County Clerk’s Office until Tuesday to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.

“The court is aware that the majority of voters oppose same-sex marriage, but it is our country’s proud history to protect the rights of the individual, the rights of the unpopular and rights of the powerless, even at the cost of offending the majority,” Garcia wrote in his opinion, released about 1 p.m. Thursday. ...

“This court concludes that a citizen’s right to marry is a fundamental right that belongs to the individual,” Garcia wrote.
“The plaintiffs’ argument with regard to same-sex marriage has no boundaries,” Mathew Staver, founder of the conservative Liberty Counsel, told Garcia. “The plaintiffs’ argument is not to just redefine marriage to include two people of the same sex, the implications of that is if you include two people of the same sex, then why can’t you have a person of the opposite sex, that also brings in a same-sex partner into the marriage.”

Monroe plaintiffs’ co-counsel Elena Vigil-Fariñas told Garcia that Staver’s legal argument — which included a graphic written description of heterosexual and homosexual sex acts — “embarrassed” her.

I’m embarrassed to have a member of the bar write something like this as an excuse to support the bigotry of the voters of Florida,” Vigil-Fariñas said. “Because in his mind, this court should allow mob rule. If the majority — the one that has the most money, the one that has the most position — don’t like a certain segment of society like our friends over here, they get to rule. And you don’t get to even evaluate whether it’s even constitutional.”

Vigil-Fariñas, who argued the case with law partner Bernadette Restivo, asked the judge, “What would this state be like if we allowed mob rule?”

“Today, it’s against Aaron and Lee. Tomorrow it could be against me. I wasn’t born here,” added Vigil-Fariñas, who is from Cuba.
The judge gave the clerk’s office several days to prepare “in consideration of... anticipated rise in activity.”

Changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes;
Nothing remains quite the same...
With all of our running and of our funnin'
if we couldn't laugh, we would all go insane.

Reading departure signs in some big airport
Reminds me of the places I've been.
Visions of good times that brought so much pleasure
Makes me want to go back again.
If it suddenly ended tomorrow,
I could somehow adjust to the fall.
Good times and riches and son of a bitches,
I've seen more than I can recall..

These changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes,
Nothing remains quite the same.
Through all of the islands and all of the highlands,
If we couldn't laugh, we would all go insane.

I think about Paris when I'm high on red wine,
I wish I could jump on a plane...
And so many nights I just dream of the ocean.
God, I wish I was sailin' again.

Oh, yesterdays are over my shoulder,
So I can't look back for too long.
There's just too much to see waiting in front of me,
and I know that I just can't go wrong.
(with these...)
~Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band.

Jeremiah 31:16

I think this article by Jewish-American mother Susan Estrich takes the cake. She sure does lay it on thick...

In his stunning book, "My Promised Land," Ari Shavit writes about the Israeli character, the intensity, the passion, the full engagement with life, the entrepreneurial spirit and willingness to take economic risks, all no doubt shaped by the reality of living in a land where every Israeli is a target. It is no accident that Israel is a center for startups.

But as Israel calls up some 40,000 reservists, I cannot help but identify with the 40,000 mothers saying goodbye to their soldier sons and daughters, understanding that when survival is at stake, everyone serves. This is part of life, my Israeli friends tell me. I know.
We just want to live in peace and quiet," one mother, who had sent her children away, told a reporter. "I hope the day will come. If not in a peaceful or political situation, then the army will have to help us."

"The army will have to help us." Can the army keep every child safe? Can the army keep every soldier safe?

If you are under attack by those who do not value human life as we do
, how can there be peace and quiet. If religious "leaders" can convince gullible, vulnerable young men and women that the best thing they can do with their lives is to die, killing Jews in the process, then how can there be peace and quiet?

Until the Jewish women like Mrs. Estrich can open their eyes and see the charred Palestinian boys, the grieving Arab mothers, weeping and mourning their loss of life, I suspect people like this writer will continue believing that "their side" is blameless or of better moral character, and the "others" -- "who do not value human life as we [allegedly] do" -- are indeed humans of equal value in God's eyes too, nothing will change.

Why do American newspapers continue to run such blatant pro-Israel propaganda, from writers who clearly are too close to the emotional situation to think or reason clearly?

Mrs. Estrich continue bleating on, insinuating that American interests are the same as Israel's and the old "we're all in this together", even though it's not Americans continuing to settle on internationally contested land:
I read some of the comments posted in response to the story of the brutal killing of the three Israeli teenagers. The comments were as frightening as the story. People spewing hate against Israel, the aggressor, the occupier, and saying we Americans should let them go it alone, not waste our dollars or our hearts. And when accused of anti-Seminitism, they always say it's not about Jews, it's about Israel.

I have bad news for the Israel-haters. The same people who hate Israel also hate Jews and Americans, wherever we live, hate our traditions of equality and freedom, hate those who would allow women to be educated and to have control of their lives and bodies. It is not only Israel that is threatened by extremism, even if the bombs are not falling here. And it is not only Israel that must fight back.
Susan, the American people are tired of fighting in vain, while Israeli extremists continue to believe the law is for other people, and not them. If you, or your children, want to saddle up Sally and volunteer in the IDF, well you would not be the first Americans to do so. Go, fight, win.

(The Cuban-Americans who have successfully settled here, as well as immigrants from hundreds of homelands, understand that when you come to America, your allegiances to your past can continue, but there is a pluralism here -- a recognition of the humanity of others -- that must be respected. America is the New World, where these past ethnic and tribal hatreds must be extinguished. The United States of America: We're not a religious state. We don't have separate roads and facilities anymore for this tribe or that. We don't have special preferences for Jewish people over Arabs or Muslims here. And we understand, G-d made us all equal in his eyes. That seems to be the sticking point the extreme religious Jews can't get over, eh? The reason to move from Boca to Tel Aviv, where your privileges over other peoples are greater based on religious think. Not here though, not in our shared America.)

I just hope America soon stops financing the self-righteous. For such an independent democracy, Israel sure seems to have some internal work to do. Once they're done killing their way to peace and quiet, that is...

Something's Missing, Closer to Home...

The president is not on the same page as the American people, it seems.

Obama touched on the laundry list of global flashpoints situations during a statement from the White House on Wednesday — the disputed elections in Afghanistan, the negotiations on Iran's nuclear program, the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, and, finally, the conflict in Ukraine.
Nothing about the crisis in Central America and the resulting tens of thousands of refugees seeking shelter in the United States to escape violence and poverty.
"We have to see concrete actions and not just words that Russia is in fact committed to end this conflict along the Russia-Ukraine border," Obama said.

Hmmm... some say that the American border should be his top priority at this point, and yet he finds it barely worth a mention? Quack, quack, lame duck.

Stenography Journalism.

I wonder if it wouldn't be easier for the Israeli military to submit their reports directly to the newspaper, rather than have these wartime reporters rewrite the information they are given, no questions asked.

JERUSALEM — The Israeli military said it foiled an attempt by Gaza militants to infiltrate a kibbutz through a tunnel early Thursday...

three mortar shells fell in open ground on the Israeli side of the border, military officials said.
An Israeli military spokesman said it was not immediately clear if all the militants from the tunnel had been killed.
Hamas said that all its fighters had returned to Gaza safely. But the Israeli military said the militants ran back toward the tunnel once they realized they had been exposed.
The numbers of dead civilians continues to add up.
The Health Ministry in Gaza reported three Palestinian fatalities early Thursday, including a man killed in an airstrike on a house in Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza, another man, 67, who was killed in a strike while on his way to the mosque for the dawn prayer in Rafah in the south and a woman, 71, who died of injuries she sustained in an earlier strike in Khan Younis.

Love of Life.

Here's an uplifting story -- a father who lost a months old child due to natural causes: she was born sickly May 30, died July 10, and spent her entire short life in the hospital hooked to machinery -- asks Reddit users to photoshop him a picture of his living child, minus the tubes.

The American response was overwhelming in its generosity

“I hope you and your wife enjoy this version,” wrote one Redditor, who submitted this image. “My best friend recently lost her son … thank you for allowing us to work on this photo for you.”

Said another: “I am reading this from the recovery room. Our baby is 23 hours old. I can’t possibly imagine how you must feel. Go hug your wife, and tell her its from reddit.”

“You have my deepest condolences, she is a lovely girl,” said another Redditor, who relayed a similar story.
“This is really amazing. Everyone you have made my day,” Steffel wrote after posting his original request. “All I wanted was a nice picture. What I received was a lot of love and support from a bunch of strangers.”
Life is Good. Never Forget.

"I wil turn their hearts of stone..."

The Palestinian-American teenager, whose beating by Israeli soldiers was captured on videotape, has returned home to hero's welcome in Florida.

Tariq Abu Khdeir, 15, and his mother flew back to Tampa on a flight arriving from New York and were greeted by about 50 cheering supporters waving American and Palestinian flags. The Khdeirs had flown out of Israel earlier in the day.

I am only 15 but I will never think of freedom the same as I did two months ago," Tariq said upon arrival at Tampa International Airport.

"No child, whether they are Palestinian or Israeli, deserves to die."
Now that's a brave kid... smart little freedom-loving fellow too!
The teenager said the thoughts and prayers of the supporters had helped him, adding "I got through these past two weeks because I knew you were all thinking of me."

Now, he said, he just wanted some relaxation and time with friends. "It feels so good to be back in Tampa. Can I even put it in words? I can't wait to go back to play with my friends and go fishing," he added, speaking only minutes.
The four boys targeted on the beach yesterday;

the 16-year-old kidnapped from his doorstop and sacrificed in a holocaust offering in the woods;

the videotaped beating from the soldiers, for a child who was attending an open-air street protest against the killing of his cousin by Israeli extremists

I can't help but think: it's adding up. It becomes harder and harder for any rational person, Jewish or not, to deny that this is not about defense, but that the anger and hatred inside some privileged people is so great they can target and harm children and civilians, and justify it by labeling all their neighbors as "enemies".

When you are insecure and weak, this is how you react.
I think the Palestinians are stronger than the Jewish-Israelis, at this point in time, and racking up more and more kills of civilians will only prove that weakness further to the world.
A Call to Justice and Mercy
"But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears from hearing. They made their hearts like flint so that they could not hear the law and the words which the LORD of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets; therefore great wrath came from the LORD of hosts.

"And just as He called and they would not listen, so they called and I would not listen," says the LORD of hosts… ~Zechariah 7:12
Hope for Change...
A New Heart and Spirit
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.… ~ Ezekiel 36:26

Wednesday, July 16


Today's American and international news coverage of the Gaza-Israeli War differs in emphasis...

Foreign journalists yesterday witnessed firsthand the killings of four Palestinian children playing on the beach after taking cover indoors for days:

The Guardian

The first projectile hit the sea wall of Gaza City's little harbour just after four o'clock. As the smoke from the explosion thinned, four figures could be seen running, ragged silhouettes, legs pumping furiously along the wall. Even from a distance of 200 metres, it was obvious that three of them were children.

Jumping off the harbour wall, they turned on to the beach, attempting to cross the short distance to the safety of the Al-Deira hotel, base for many of the journalists covering the Gaza conflict.

They waved and shouted at the watching journalists as they passed a little collection of brightly coloured beach tents, used by bathers in peacetime.

It was there that the second shell hit the beach, those firing apparently adjusting their fire to target the fleeing survivors. As it exploded, journalists standing by the terrace wall shouted: "They are only children."

In the space of 40 seconds, four boys who had been playing hide and seek among fishermen's shacks on the wall were dead. They were aged between seven and 11; two were named Mohammad, one Zakaria and the youngest Ahed. All were members of the extended Bakr family.

Three others who were injured made it to the hotel: Hamad Bakr, aged 13, with shrapnel in his chest; his cousin Motasem, 11, injured in his head and legs, and Mohammad Abu Watfah, 21, who was hit by shrapnel in his stomach.
Pulling up the T-shirt of the first boy, journalists administering first aid found a shrapnel hole, small and round as a pencil head, where he had been hit in the chest. Another boy, a brother or cousin, who was uninjured, slumped by the wall, weeping.

The injured boy cried in pain as the journalists cleaned and dressed the wound, wrapping a field dressing around his chest. He winced in pain, clearly embarrassed too as a colleague checked his shorts to look for unseen femoral bleeding. A waiter grabbed a table cloth to use as a stretcher, but a photographer took the boy in his arms to carry him to the ambulance.
At the Shifa hospital on Wednesday afternoon, Hamad Bakr was conscious and waiting for surgery to remove the shrapnel from his chest and drain fluid from his chest cavity. "My father has a fishing boat there. We were playing hide and seek when we were hit. I didn't hear the first one which killed one of us but I heard the second as we were running along the beach. That one killed three more."

His mother Taghrid, 35, came into the room. "Why did you go out of the door?" she demanded of Hamad.

She said that his brother, Younis, who was with Hamad, while he was being treated, "is so scared that he is shaking".

Suddenly angry and grief stricken, she said: "They killed my nephew. Who does that? Who fires on children?"

As the reporters left, Mohammad Abu Watfah was wheeled out of a lift after surgery to remove the shrapnel in his stomach. As relatives gathered not far from the Al-Deira hotel to bury the four dead boys, barely 90 minutes after the attack on the beach, the boys' uncle, Abdel Kareem Baker, 41, said:

"It's a cold-blooded massacre. It's a shame they didn't identify them as kids with all of the advanced technology they claim they're using."
What strikes me looking at those photos: just how skinny and malnourished-looking those children are, living under occupation.

The New York Times, meanwhile, has chosen to front-page this article about the war sufferings in Israel:
With the Israeli Air Force pounding targets in Gaza for the ninth day on Wednesday, in the hope of quelling the rocket fire, the death toll on the Palestinian side has risen to at least 205, many of them civilians. But Israel did not suffer its first fatality until Tuesday, though several adults and children have been seriously injured.

The combination of public resilience and the low casualty rate has afforded the Israeli government some leeway in deciding whether to send ground forces into Gaza or to seek a cease-fire.

“We are not tired,” said Meir Cohen, whose house next door was also damaged by the rocket. “We are ready to continue for another week, two weeks, until their rockets run out.”

Mr. Cohen, his wife and a grandson, 14, were uninjured; they had taken cover in their safe room when the first siren went off.

“That’s not weakness,” Mr. Cohen said. “That is [Israeli] bravery.”

In the next house, Anat Suissa, 17, was alone when the siren went off. Her mother, a pediatrician, was working at the local hospital at the time. Anat also ran into her family’s safe room; when the rocket crashed to the ground, the shock of the blast threw open the room’s door.

“I heard glass shattering, and understood it was very, very close,” she told reporters afterward. “I came out and saw it was in the yard." Neighbors heard her screaming and rushed to comfort her.

Later came the Israeli television reporters, who asked for her opinion about what action the government should take. “I am not in a position to say what should be done,” she told them in a trembling voice.

“But it is not logical that children and youth here have 30 seconds to run for their lives.”
Rotem Vandel, 37, who runs the Beach Bum kiosk at Lido Beach in Ashdod, said he stayed home with his baby daughter for a week. But July is the height of the summer season, so on Wednesday he reopened the kiosk, which sells hot dogs, drinks and ice cream, to clean up and get ready for the weekend. The beach was almost empty and he had no customers, so once the work was done, he decided to take a chance and do some surfing.

Define "Defense".

President Obama said today that Israel had a right to defend itself. Gee, Mr. President, way to be a moral leader and influence our ally. So much for the Nobel Peace Prize, and the Call to Action. By condoning this, you're lumping America in with Israel's actions. We all understand that, right?

Bearing Witness

GAZA CITY — Four young Palestinian boys were killed Wednesday when two explosions hit a jetty and beach where they were playing at the fishing port of Gaza City, an area that had been considered relatively safe from the intense Israeli bombing campaign of the past nine days.

The Israel Defense Forces acknowledged that it had struck the area. “Based on preliminary results, the target of this strike was Hamas terrorist operatives,” the I.D.F. said in a statement.
The first explosion left a small shack burning on the jetty. Several boys could be seen fleeing along the beach. About 30 seconds later came the second blast, and when the dust cleared, three figures lay motionless on the sand. One had most of a leg blown off, his body charred; a few yards away lay a smaller one with curly hair.

Men came running and scooped up three bodies. A fourth was found in the charred ruins of the shack on the jetty.
All these deaths are preventable, and unnecessary to "protect" Israel, that's the killer thing.
Israel’s military says it has taken extensive precautions to avoid killing civilians. But it has acknowledged, according to Israel Radio, that about half the people in Gaza killed so far were “not involved in terrorism.” Human Rights Watch issued a statement on Wednesday decrying the civilian casualties and demanding that Israel “end unlawful attacks that do not target military objectives.”

A running count kept by United Nations officials shows that of the more than 200 Palestinians who have been killed so far, about 75 percent have been civilians, including more than three dozen children. One Israeli has been killed.
In a related experiment in online social media,
David Sheen -- a documentarian, journalist, and designer who lives in Dimona, on July 10 "entered the Hebrew word for "Arabs", ARAVIM, into Twitter and searched for uses of the word over the previous few hours. What I found was young Israelis proclaiming their desire for all Arabs to die and in some cases be tortured to death."

He posted the Twitter users screen shots -- and was surprised so many pink-lipped young ladies, spouting hate. (These men and ladies will soon be serving as soldiers in the IOF.)
I also noticed that many of the Israeli youth who were cursing Arabs on Twitter were also expressing resentment at having been woken up to the whine of sirens, which sounded in response to rockets launched at Israeli cities from Gaza.

When I made this observation, one of the young Israelis I had quoted making anti-Arab comments responded to my tweet, assuring me that her hate of Palestinians was unrelated to having been stirred from her slumber that morning, but that it in fact was a constant in her life.

"Not just on our summer vacation we hate stinking ugly Arabs all our lives, for the rest of our lives"
Can we please stop pretending that Israel is undertaking these actions in her "defense"? De we really think this is the best they can do, taking great care to avoid civilians? Surely they're not that incompetent as fighters?

Israel is clearly trying to gain a strategic advantage while much of her populace expresses hate toward the "enemy". This has nothing to do with pursuing justice anymore.

Why do we Americans have to keep pretending that Israel is the perpetual victim here, and not the Palestinian innocents who are not planting bombs, but are continually being killed? We know better. Read those tweets, if you're still a believer.

ADDED: Remember the "scorecards" of sexual conquests some American teenagers kept and traded some years back? I can't help but wonder if something like that could be at play with the young people here. Might there be a sexual rewards system from some of the tarted-up young women in those photos, who would "reward" other young soldiers for every "kill" they recorded?

Sounds crazy? When you see people planning a kidnapping, and carrying through their plans of setting a small boy on fire, suddenly nothing is off the table. Plus, we've all been here before. I don't think Israel is dumb enough to think continually pummelling the civilian population is suddenly going to work this time, winning hearts and minds from Hamas. The people support those political groups precisely because Israel offers them nothing but checkpoints, destruction and now death.

In fact, I suspect many young Hamas fighters were born on that beach today, watching their playmates be cut down ... for nothing. No lives were saved here. No phantom attacks on Israelis prevented. Just four more dead little children. Hoo-rah! (?)
An Israeli military spokesman, Motti Almoz, told Israel’s Channel 10 that Israeli forces had fired at “a target near the sea” on Wednesday and that the details were still under review.

Alon Ben-David, a senior military affairs journalist with extensive Israeli military sources, said information he had seen indicated that the military had identified the beach shack as belonging to Hamas and fired at it.

Mr. Ben-David speculated that the second blast had been aimed at the children running away, who might have been mistaken for militants. But he added that given the military’s technologically advanced surveillance equipment, “it is a little hard for me to understand this, because the images show that the figures are children.”
I think I understand now:
Israel has a big hate problem they need to address internally, and soon!

Matter of Fact, It's All Sad, Really...*

NYT columnist Charles Blow weighs in on the protestors attempting to stop buses full of what they think are illegal immigrant children being resettled locally:

The latest protest came after the county sheriff tipped local residents off about the incoming bus. According to the Associated Press:

Sheriff Paul Babeu “is credited with stirring up the anti-immigrant protesters via social media postings and a press release Monday and by leaking information about the migrants’ arrival to a local activist.”

Adam Kwasman, a Republican congressional candidate and state legislator, also showed up to protest the children’s arrival. When a school bus was spotted, Kwasman tweeted a picture of it with the words, “Bus coming in. This is not compassion. This is the abrogation of the rule of law.”

Kwasman even regaled a local reporter with what he said he saw on the bus:

“I was able to actually see some of the children in the buses and the fear on their faces. This is not compassion.”

That was until the reporter informed Kwasman that the children on the bus weren’t migrant children but local YMCA campers who, according to “reporters at the scene,” were “laughing and taking pictures on their iPhones.”

Kwasman’s response: “They were sad, too.”

Well, I know that I’m sad. We should all be.

I’m sad that the fate of children has been so consumed by political theater and callous fabrication.
Nicely done.
* Apologies to Pink Floyd, Eclipse:
"There is no dark side in the moon, really. Matter of fact, it's all dark. (The only thing that makes it look light is the sun.)".
~ Gerry O'Driscoll

Check, Check, Double Check.

People knock journalism school.  Everybody can write.  Anybody can report and ask questions.  The mainstream media is biased.  One person who definitely never holds back on voicing her opinion -- even when she's got her facts in error -- is this blogger.   Today, she ran a two-year old, relatively innocuous photo of the president campaigning in Ohio in 2012 -- sharing a beer with two women:

Ann Althouse said...
What a disturbing picture!  The blonde woman looks like she's going for his zipper. He looks pained. But what's he doing there, cavorting with 2 women? Does Michelle appreciate that kind of posing with other women?  And what of all the American citizens who disapprove of or have a religious scruple against drinking alcohol? It's such in-your-face beer-guzzling? Who likes seeing that? It's not what feminists want in a man.
Her approved commenters then followed her lead, chiming in:
Meade said...  And let me remind you that extremism in the pursuit of condescendingly denying that you have any interest in photo ops is no virtue.

Unknown said...  Except that the one on the left looks a little heavy set and the sign on the right is a little to bright, this would be a good ad.

Skeptical Voter said...  Not to be sexist or anything, but couldn't he find better looking beer hags and bar flies to be drinking with? I mean aside from the title he has, the dude has gazillions of bucks--and that usually attracts pretty women. I thought we were electing a President in 2008 (not that I voted for him because I could see the train wrecks --plural there--that would come with such a novice) instead of a party animal. Well we got the party animal and fund raiser--but as for the role of President, Obama has pretty much been missing in action.

Paul said...  He probably drinks a lot since it's unlikely he can still do blow and smoke reefer.

Gahrie said...  It's not what feminists want in a man.  The only thing feminists want in a man is a wallet.

Matthew Sablan said...  "It's not what feminists want in a man.  -- Given who feminists I know date/dated now and in high school and college, I think you're wrong there. It's not what feminists SAY they want in a man, but everything I've seen points to at least it being neutral/break even on what women want.

MadisonMan said...  This is not how I think a President should behave.  What is he campaigning for?

Richard Dolan said...  That's a picture and a pose made more for Bill Clinton that Barry O. Bill would definitely know how to take it from there.
The law professor/blogger in the comments added this:
Ann Althouse said...  From March 2010: Obama's doctors recommended "moderation of alcohol intake" and I observed that Bush was was criticized for being a drunk when he didn't drink at all.
She was quickly corrected though:
bgates said...  From March 2010: Obama's doctors recommended "moderation of alcohol intake"  No they didn't, they recommended "moderation in", and recommending "moderation of" is completely different from recommending continuation of "moderation in."
and another who pushed back on the sexism and priggishness on display:
mccullough said...This photo is 2 years old and was taken in Ohio, which Obama won again a few months later, so he definitely knew what he was doing. This is the kind of stuff that swings a swing state.
There are plenty of issues an educated person could constructively criticize about this president's job performance.  But making him out to be an alcoholic, or a womanizer even, are a bit below the belt, dontchathink?

The country is divided and faltering.  I think I know why we have political stagnation and are unable to work in good faith to get things done to meet the needs of the people in this country.  This law professor's work here might be considered Exhibit A...

Where Have You Gone...

... "Cool Hand Luke" ?*

A nation turns its weary eyes to you... (woo woo woo).

*cough, cough*

Watching History Be Made, at a Safe Distance.

In-house media reporter Eric Wemple of the Washington Post watched a television interview with Jose Antonio Vargas and reports:

Vargas, who entered the United States from the Philippines as an unaccompanied minor, recently saw his movie “Documented” air on CNN; the crisis involving minors from Central America spilling over the border is a core issue for his group, Define American. And so when Vargas leaped into the news this week with his detention at the McAllen-Miller International Airport in south Texas, after seeking to report on the undocumented children there, people asked, Is this a publicity stunt?

Not quite, Vargas said this morning on the CNN program “New Day.”

“Is it a stunt to get on a plane ... to try to get out of south Texas?” asked the 33-year-old Vargas, whose detention occurred when he was trying to hop on a flight to Los Angeles; he was detained for around eight hours after telling U.S. Border Patrol agents that he was in the country illegally.

He received a notice to appear before an immigration judge.
Since Wemple was reporting second-hand, there was no opportunity for follow up to ask if Mr. Vargas seriously did not research the implications of travelling domestically as an out-and-proud undocumented immigrant.

I suppose, given the privileged American life he's lived, Mr. Vargas honestly does not understand the risks and consequences of his work. I suspect too, he made a call asking for special favors that accelerated his release, which would not have been possible for other lesser knowns.

One more reason to state: Mr. Vargas' experience is a one-off here. He situation is not representative of the Central Americans arriving at the border and experiencing the detention process. Vargas should not inflate his importance, and should not try to make this story about him.

Lazy reporters like Mr. Wemple will focus on him, while the details of what is happening down there today is what the American public is really eager for news on...

(You could probably run 5 very readable, feature stories about border activities today and readers across the nation would still be hungering for more... It's a big issue out here.* Mr. Vargas -- who?-- not so much....)

* and likely, not going away anytime soon...
(The political implications have not yet been fully grasped, I don't think, by the in-house journalists like Mr. Wemple who get all their current information second hand. Big news, for months to come... People aren't just going to look away, as much as our leaders might like.)

Like Shooting Fish in a Barrel.

or, More of the Same.

Two 10-year old boys, an 11 year-old, and a 9-year-old were killed today as Israel continues to fatally pound Gaza, responding to the Israeli public's call to avenge the deaths of three Jewish-Israeli teenagers under the guise of routing all of Hamas from Gaza. (Good luck with that.)

An American reporter on the scene, William Booth, witnessed this:

[A]t first, he thought the explosion he heard might have been from a rocket launched by militants.

"Then we saw a gang of kids running from the shack, down the breakwater and onto the sand, hurtling toward al-Deira. A couple of waiters, the cook and a few journalists started waving at them. Run here! Then a second missile exploded on the beach right behind them."

Booth says that some of the kids made it to safety; some had shrapnel wounds. But others had died in the attack.
Responding medics from the Gaza Health Ministry confirmed the childrens' deaths. The IDF says it will investigate reports that the deadly missile was launched from an Israeli gunboat off Gaza's Mediterranean coast.
Earlier Wednesday, Israel warned tens of thousands of Gaza residents to leave their homes ahead of fresh strikes. Those who received the warning were given until 8 a.m. local time to leave.
In other news,
the two Palestinian suspects accused of kidnapping and murdering the three Jewish teenagers remain at large, as Israel concentrates on shelling Gaza.

It's Fun to Play at the YMCA?

Without effective rule of law, sadly you get people trying to take the law into their own hands:

ORACLE, Ariz. -- Protesters waved "Return to Sender" signs, shoved a group of mariachi musicians and waited for a bus of immigrant children that the local sheriff told them would arrive. At one point, they briefly halted a bus before realizing it was carrying children from a YMCA.

According to USA Today, Arizona Rep. Adam Kwasman was among those who thought that the bus of YMCA campers was full of migrant children, tweeting: "Bus coming in. This is not compassion. This is the abrogation of the rule of law."

He later deleted the tweet and apologized for the mistake.

Last tweet not the bus of illegal immigrant children. Thank God.
— Adam Kwasman (@AdamKwasman) July 15, 2014

The bus of Central American children never arrived, ending a day of protest in a small Arizona town that drew more than 100 people on both sides of the immigration debate.

I wish, for the sake of the nation, the Congress would convene a special session and take collective action on immigration reform. As they do nothing, people in the states will be left to their own devices, and while some social issues might lend themselves to experimentation in the state laboratories of democracy, our national immigration policies should not be decided piecemeal because our elected leaders chose not to act and simply turned away...

Israel Contemplates the Quagmire.

Israeli excitement runs high as political leaders call for another full-scale invasion and re-occupation of Gaza:
Mr. Netanyahu has been under pressure from some members of his cabinet and party to start a ground operation. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who has been at turns partner and rival to the prime minister, reiterated his call for a more substantial operation against Hamas on Wednesday, as did Yuval Steinitz, the minister of strategic affairs, who has been a Netanyahu stalwart and frequent mouthpiece.

“To the best of my understanding, it is not possible to ensure summer vacation, a normal summer for our kids, without a ground operation in Gaza,” Mr. Lieberman said during a visit to Ashkelon, where he and his entourage had to run for cover at one point as sirens warned of incoming rockets, which were intercepted and destroyed by the Iron Dome system in dramatic fashion.

“We don’t need to rule Gaza, or build settlements in Gaza,” he added. “We need to ensure that all Hamas terrorists run away, are imprisoned, or die.”
“We estimate that sitting there and eliminating Hamas terrorism from the Gaza Strip is a matter of many months — it’s not a matter of two or three months, it’s much more than that,” he said. “We have a very good idea of what does it mean to take over Gaza Strip in all aspects — military, civilian, infrastructure, economical — we have a very good idea and I think it’s one of the issues that the Israeli government should consider very seriously.

“That’s a huge burden on anybody who would do it,” he added. “Everything has its own prices.”
In the densely populated and poor neighborhoods of Zeitoun and Shejaya in Gaza City, streets were emptier than usual, but a few children flew kites and some men sat in the shade. Many people appeared confused, with some seeking shelter in friends’ homes deeper inside the neighborhoods rather than leaving.

“We don’t know where we’re going, we’re going aimlessly,” said Mohammed Dalul, who was driving a donkey cart with his six children and an elderly neighbor. They had with them only a canister of cooking gas and a single bag of clothes for the children.
The [Israeli] official noted: “A ground campaign will be much messier.”
Meanwhile, here at home:
Last month, just 5 percent of the [American] public named immigration the most important problem facing the country today. That number more than tripled to 17 percent this month, according to a new Gallup poll, topping all other issues.
Immigration has jumped to the top of the list of the public's concerns, just ahead of dissatisfaction with the government (16 percent), the economy (15 percent) and unemployment and jobs (14 percent).
All these issues are kind of related, no?
The people have priorities too...

Hobby Lobby Carve Outs.

It's not in my nature to celebrate my victories loudly or prematurely. I come from a clan that waits until the baby is viable to announce a pregnancy... just in case. We don't take for granted that a healthy birth is imminent, until the baby is safely delivered. I don't start celebrating my home team's victory in the final minutes, when there's still game to be played. Realistic like that.

Contrary to what you perhaps might think reading me here, I'm not cocky about success and I really don't blow my own horn.

For that reason, I would caution those who are stamping the Affordable Care Act a resounding success: there are still too many unknowns unaddressed.

Particularly disappointing to me: the mandate to be covered with health insurance necessarily does not cover undocumented newcomers -- those who presumably would need the preventative services and basic health care needs for growing children and families the most.

I think we politically should have put our issues in proper order:
1) Legally, what is a family? We have a variety of definitions in the states now, but how can you implement an insurance program -- mandate participation -- if we haven't first defined "dependents" under the insurance policy, and worked to equalize family treatment for both same-sex and opposite-sex families?

I would have waited to introduce a nationwide healthcare program, mandating participation, until there was better equality in addressing who was paying in for whom. Point blank: people with uncovered family members are not likely to be supportive of paying "extras" for those families currently recognized under the law as more legitimate and more deserving of benefits.

2) Immigration reform and securing the border.
It's really a farce to pretend that the progressive elite liberals who are anti-vaccine are the ones spoiling the herd immunity defense, when we have so many potentially uncovered and thus unvaccinated newcomers living, working and studying alongside us.

No one should leave the border detention centers until they have the basic vaccine protections, some of which require multiple injections timed over months. Before you call me a racist, consider: do you think unvaccinated children coming from rural countrysides will be susceptible to unknown diseases introduced into their systems as they travel the hemispheres, likely settling in crowded urban environments?

I'd like to see every single person -- documented and undocumented -- eligible for the basic preventative services the ACA demands. If we truly are all in this together in terms of public health, it does no one any good to pretend that basic medical service are being provided, and encouraged, to all. Open your eyes and see the need.

3) Then healthcare reform.
Put the players -- all the players -- in the game before you go announcing the new rules and pricetags. Don't assume that having health insurance is the same as having good health. Many of the newcomers from rural areas in other countries ARE healthy and do not rely on modernized medical care to treat routine health needs. If the genetic stock is strong, and often in young rural families it is, there is often need only for catastrophic -- or maternity -- care in the first 30 or 40 years.

People can and have practiced caution with their health for centuries: preventative maintenance in terms of healthy and simple diet choices, as well as not having the temptations for harming their health that more affluent younger people might have (sedentary lives, fast cars, cigarette and beer money, multiple sexual contacts of short duration).

Finally, before we celebrate the success of the ACA in its present form, consider the carve outs that the Hobby Lobby decision promises. (I know, I know, I read the opinion: The justices in the majority say they limited the extent of potential religious exemptions and carve-outs: don't you believe them.)

Among the many questions raised by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby is how sweeping its legacy will be. Supporters of the decision have insisted that the ruling is “narrow,” as it explicitly addresses “closely held” corporations objecting to four specific types of birth control—including IUDs and Plan B—because the business’ owners consider them (inaccurately) to cause abortion. Besides, the Court argued, the government can just fill any coverage gaps itself, and it’s only women whom corporations are now permitted to discriminate against. “Our decision in these cases is concerned solely with the contraceptive mandate,” claimed Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the majority. “Our decision should not be understood to hold that an insurance-coverage mandate must necessarily fall if it conflicts with an employers’ religious beliefs.”

Bullshit, is essentially what Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had to say about the majority’s claim to have issued a limited ruling. In her dissent, Ginsburg deemed it “a decision of startling breadth.” She noted that “‘closely held’ is not synonymous with ‘small’,” citing corporations like Cargill, which employs 140,000 workers. Even more alarming is the majority’s endorsement of the idea that corporations can hold religious beliefs that warrant protection under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

In fact, it only took a day for the Court’s “narrow” decision to start to crack open. On Tuesday, the Court indicated that its ruling applies to for-profit employers who object to all twenty forms of birth control included in the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate, not just the four methods at issue in the two cases decided on Monday.
In light of its ruling on Hobby Lobby and a related suit, the Supreme Court ordered three appeals courts to reconsider cases in which they had rejected challenges from corporations that object to providing insurance that covers any contraceptive services at all. The plaintiffs in all three cases are Catholics who own businesses in the Midwest, including Michigan-based organic food company Eden Foods. Meanwhile, the High Court declined to review petitions from the government seeking to overturn lower court rulings that upheld religiously based challenges to all preventative services under the mandate.
Business owners now have a new basis for trying to evade anti-discrimination laws and their responsibilities to their employees. Religious liberty is already the rallying cry for conservatives looking for a legal way to discriminate against LGBT Americans; other business owners have tried to use religion to justify opposition to minimum-wage laws and Social Security taxes. Faith groups are already trying to capitalize on the Hobby Lobby decision out of court; on Wednesday, a group of religious leaders asked the Obama administration for an exemption from a forthcoming federal order barring federal contractors from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
I don't think Justice Samuel Alito's words are of comfort to many whose very existence is in conflict with some extremists' religious beliefs. The Court will have to draw a line somewhere on this slippery downwards slope. These extreme religious views, I believe, are indeed sincerely held. (Science says a fertilized egg not yet implanted in the uterus is not yet a fetus, or a developing child, before implantation. Their religious beliefs tell them otherwise.) You can only appease others so much and give deference to their personal beliefs before you run afoul of the Constitutionally protected rights of other citizens, whose religions, scientific beliefs, and personal moral codes teach otherwise in terms of public policy.

Let's close, then, with a question posed last year to Dr. Ezekiel "Zeke" Emanual, a champion of the ACA and brother to Democratic politician Rahm:
Q. How big a problem will it be if Hobby Lobby wins its Supreme Court case, and employers are able to carve out exemptions from the health law based on religious views?

A. I think this opens a huge can of worms as to what anyone’s religion is or what the religious dictates are, and how those connect with health services. There are lots of religions that don’t believe in circumcision — we’re not paying for circumcision. Or, we don’t believe in premarital sex, so we’re not going to cover the cervical cancer treatment, because the only way you get it is through premarital sex. My religion doesn’t like smoking – all right, we’re not paying for emphysema care or lung cancer care. Where is the end of this?