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Monthly Archives: August 2016

It is odd that so many truths are becoming available as we become more “wired” The recent flap over whether Colin Kaepernick  stood for the National Anthem or not again brings out the truth in the origins of our history. Article posted in the Intercept explains events regarding the National Anthem’s origins.

The National Anthem Is a Celebration of Slavery

Before a preseason game on Friday, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” When he explained why, he only spoke about the present: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. … There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

Almost no one seems to be aware that even if the U.S. were a perfect country today, it would be bizarre to expect African-American players to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Why? Because it literally celebrates the murder of African-Americans.

Few people know this because we only ever sing the first verse. But read the end of the third verse and you’ll see why “The Star-Spangled Banner” is not just a musical atrocity, it’s an intellectual and moral one, too:

No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

“The Star-Spangled Banner,” Americans hazily remember, was written by Francis Scott Key about the Battle of Fort McHenry in Baltimore during the War of 1812. But we don’t ever talk about how the War of 1812 was a war of aggression that began with an attempt by the U.S. to grab Canada from the British Empire.

However, we’d wildly overestimated the strength of the U.S. military. By the time of the Battle of Fort McHenry in 1814, the British had counterattacked and overrun Washington, D.C., setting fire to the White House.

And one of the key tactics behind the British military’s success was its active recruitment of American slaves. As a detailed 2014 article in Harper’s explains, the orders given to the Royal Navy’s Admiral Sir George Cockburn read:

Let the landings you make be more for the protection of the desertion of the Black Population than with a view to any other advantage. … The great point to be attained is the cordial Support of the Black population. With them properly armed & backed with 20,000 British Troops, Mr. Madison will be hurled from his throne.

Whole families found their way to the ships of the British, who accepted everyone and pledged no one would be given back to their “owners.” Adult men were trained to create a regiment called the Colonial Marines, who participated in many of the most important battles, including the August 1814 raid on Washington.

Then on the night of September 13, 1814, the British bombarded Fort McHenry. Key, seeing the fort’s flag the next morning, was inspired to write the lyrics for “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

So when Key penned “No refuge could save the hireling and slave / From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,” he was taking great satisfaction in the death of slaves who’d freed themselves. His perspective may have been affected by the fact he owned several slaves himself.

With that in mind, think again about the next two lines: “And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave / O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

The reality is that there were human beings fighting for freedom with incredible bravery during the War of 1812. However, “The Star-Spangled Banner” glorifies America’s “triumph” over them — and then turns that reality completely upside down, transforming their killers into the courageous freedom fighters.

After the U.S. and the British signed a peace treaty at the end of 1814, the U.S. government demanded the return of American “property,” which by that point numbered about 6,000 people. The British refused. Most of the 6,000 eventually settled in Canada, with some going to Trinidad, where their descendants are still known as “Merikins.”

Furthermore, if those leading the backlash against Kaepernick need more inspiration, they can get it from Francis Scott Key’s later life.

By 1833, Key was a district attorney for Washington, D.C. As described in a book called Snowstorm in August by former Washington Post reporter Jefferson Morley, the police were notorious thieves, frequently stealing free blacks’ possessions with impunity. One night, one of the constables tried to attack a woman who escaped and ran away — until she fell off a bridge across the Potomac and drowned.

“There is neither mercy nor justice for colored people in this district,” an abolitionist paper wrote. “No fuss or stir was made about it. She was got out of the river, and was buried, and there the matter ended.”

Key was furious and indicted the newspaper for intending “to injure, oppress, aggrieve & vilify the good name, fame, credit & reputation of the Magistrates & constables of Washington County.”

You can decide for yourself whether there’s some connection between what happened 200 years ago and what Colin Kaepernick is angry about today. Maybe it’s all ancient, meaningless history. Or maybe it’s not, and Kaepernick is right, and we really need a new national anthem.


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 Commentary on the decline of Sears and Kmart by a hedge fund manager who has no idea of how retail works. We could all him the “Donald Trump” of the business world. Article below gives details on the company’s decline.

Hayley Peterson


The company’s cash and equivalents have fallen to $276 million from $1.8 billion one year ago, Sears said Thursday.

The company’s sales have been falling for years and it has been shutting down stores, selling real estate, and spinning off brands to stem the bleeding. Since 2007, Sears has closed half of its locations — which include Sears and Kmart stores — and eliminated more than 137,000 jobs.

Some employees have predicted that the rest of the company’s physical stores will close within the next two years.

The stores are severely understaffed, with some operating on less than half of the employees they need, according to workers who spoke to Business Insider.

Not only are the stores firing people, but they are also cutting labour hours for the workers that remain, according to the employees. In some cases, stores are operating with just one or two cashiers and sometimes no cashiers at all, they said.

That’s making it increasingly difficult to hire and retain experienced workers, according to a former Kmart employee of 41 years, who said that she was laid off in February. She told Business Insider that her store’s employees hadn’t seen raises in eight years.

She blames the company’s CEO, Eddie Lampert, for the company’s downfall.

“Lampert has taken this company and, with pompous arrogance, has destroyed it,” she said. “Customer care is vital to a retail business. Lampert just couldn’t understand that.”

Workers also said that the stores are suffering structurally from a lack of investment. An employee who currently works for a Sears in Ohio said that his store is rife with issues, from broken walls and escalators to frequent roof leaks. He said that the merchandise on the floor is often torn open, and no one will buy those items.

A former assistant manager of Kmart who left the company in 2012 after 12 years, said that the company really started going downhill after the introduction of Shop Your Way, a loyalty program that Sears introduced in 2009.

The program, which allows customers to earn points for purchases, was confusing and poorly executed, killed profits, slowed down customer service, and featured targeted advertising that was completely off base, the former manager said.

He said:

“Items scanned per minute decreased from 18 to five items per minute because the program was littered with exclusions and confusion. Several items didn’t ring as advertised or generate the points as expected. This resulted in long lines and angry customers. Abandoned carts meant utilising payroll to return those items back to stock.”

He said that he and his family shopped at Walmart instead of Sears or Kmart to avoid the confusion of Shop Your Way.

“Imagine trying to keep an eye on two children and trying to understand a confusing SYWR [Shop Your Way] offer,” he said. “We opted to avoid the confusion and shop Walmart — where the tag or the sign told us what we would pay. No gimmicks.”

The 41-year employee of Kmart who spoke to Business Insider had similar complaints about Shop Your Way.

She said:

“[Eddie Lampert’s] ideas of reward cards to transform the company were a waste of time and money. If they didn’t have a card, you were supposed to enroll them while you have 10 waiting in that one line to check out. Most people were so disgusted when they finally got to pay, they didn’t want to apply. They just wanted to pay and go.”

In response to the employee complaints, Sears spokesman Howard Riefs said that the company encourages workers to provide feedback.

“One of our cultural beliefs as a company is to embrace feedback,” Riefs said. “We have a variety of ways that associates can give authentic feedback — even anonymously — and would encourage them to do so.”

He also directed Business Insider to a Sears blog post published last year in which employees shared why they are proud to work for Sears and Kmart.

“I am very proud to be part of SHC [Sears Holding Co.],” said Jen Chamberlain, a Sears sales associate in Victor, New York. “From online and in-store shopping to home and car repair services integrating with Shop Your Way, it is truly a high standard of operation for any company.”

Scott Ogden, an associate store manager in Miami, Florida, said, “I am proud to be part of the SHC team because we all work together on a daily basis to achieve the same common goals. SHC is comprised of great leaders and team members who strive every day to deliver their best results.”

In addition to speaking with employees, Business Insider also reviewed a message board that workers said they use to communicate with Sears and Kmart employees at other stores.

In dozens of messages over the last several weeks, people claiming to work for Sears and Kmart complained about the stores’ deterioration.

Several people claimed that the quality of the products that Sears and Kmart sell has declined, and that no one will buy clearance items regardless of how much they mark down the prices.

“Clearance is the standard operating procedure at our store,” one person wrote on the message board. “We have at least half of our store on clearance. Too much stuff people don’t want… and what they do buy they will usually return as defective. …Not long until the end, it will come soon.” Another person claiming to work in Sears’ automotive section wrote:

“Lately the majority of tire shipments consist of Patriot and Radar tires. These are simply cheap crappy tires. We have about 12 sets of Michelin tires left and a handful of Goodyear. Even shipments of their signature RoadHandler tires have slowed down. It’s embarrassing when I have to face a customer and explain I just don’t have much product to offer.”

One person said that the stores have deteriorated so much that it’s like caring for a “dead body.”

“Our motto now is ‘you can only do what you can do,'” the person wrote. “It’s sad to watch what we worked for with pride for so many years to be slain in front of us and then we still have to care for the dead body.”

Some stores are being inundated by shipments of merchandise several times a week, and they don’t have enough employees to move the products from the trucks to the stock rooms, and then to store shelves in a timely manner. “We have been getting shipments of things that we don’t need — it seems like they are just trying to empty out of the warehouses,” one person wrote.

The understaffing appears to be a major issue for many stores.

“My store is down to a skeleton staff,” one person wrote.

Another said that they have a 17-year-old in a managerial position.

They wrote:

“With new hires only lasting less than a month, experienced employees quitting for better paying and better working conditions we have hardly anyone with any experience to run the store. The worst is that we have a 17-year-old running the office and cash office. He has no experience in either but he is a warm body to fill the job. The end is coming soon, get out while you can.”

If you work in retail and have a story to tell, then send an email to


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When this election is over and done, no matter who wins, the US will not be the same. If we have a Trump Presidency, there will major changes but not what supporters expect. The current Congress will only allow what they want to be done and any thing that will negatively the “party” will be slow walked if not outright killed. The above statement could also apply to Hillary Clinton. Apparently Mr. Trump is so sure that he is a better non political leader that his programs will be enacted in the first 100 days of his Presidency. To be sure he may have some limited success but his followers will soon learn his agenda will fall on rough times and will not be as enforceable as they think. It is unfortunate that so many disenfranchised people have jumped on the Trump mobile but think about where  or what these folks could accomplish by simply putting their biases aside and get facts about other Americans. Many of their shared ideas are based on Antebellum information about non white Americans. Americans all have the same problems no matter what color they are, what religion they follow and who they associate with. Our government in general has been in turmoil for years but  we had no access to the issues except by news papers or radio, then TV came along and information got easier to get. When the electronic age arrived information was immediate (not always correct but fast). Even with this information readily available many of us would rather listen to someone selling  snake oil  since it sounds good. Suppose we didn’t trust everything the government tells us, would we then read  or investigate to find the facts? Probably not but we still vote people in who continue the same practices that do nothing of merit for all of us. In the 50’s we had Senator McCarthy with his madness, we supported the Shah of Iran in his devastation of his country (that has haunted us to this day), we went into Vietnam for a loss and now we have a demagogue aspiring to be President. We may never have a perfect nation but we can have the one promised and allowed by our Constitution (if we want it). Once we get there the worst will be over but some problems will still exist but they will be manageable.

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If it takes lies to be elected then The Republicans will win. This is not to say the Democrats are any better but as voters we need to set aside our biases and look at facts as we can get them . All information is available if we read and not be swayed by the roar of the crowd. Apparently it is acceptable to lie to gain an office yet we as voters do not like it (or do we) and we still elect poor representatives who do not have our interests in mind. Looking at the Citizens United law that has allowed unlimited money to be poured into campaigns which has given rise to the super pacs who spend millions on attack ads and lies. We receive so much misinformation that it is difficult to get to the truth unless we read for ourselves and use our common sense. This election has divided the country and provided voice to the radical elements in our society thereby endangering us all.

Article below

By Gregory Krieg, CNN


Hillary Clinton’s health: An unhealthy obsession?
Story highlights
  • There’s no evidence anything is wrong with the Democratic nominee
  • Trump and his allies continue to try to raise questions about Clinton’s fitness

(CNN)From Donald Trump and his top surrogates to the right-wing media and its engine rooms of outrage in the blogosphere, Hillary Clinton’s opponents are ramping up efforts to sow doubt over the candidate’s health.

The campaign — which goes back years — has escalated to shouting over the summer, as Trump spiraled in the polls while mostly failing to connect with voters outside his base demographic. Now, as the race enters a crucial phase, there has been a growing push to fundamentally undermine Clinton’s candidacy.
Much in the way “birthers” (Trump was among the most prominent) sought similar ends by questioning President Barack Obama’s citizenship, the “healthers” are using junk science and conspiracy theories to argue that Clinton is suffering from a series of debilitating brain injuries.
In an interview on “Fox News Sunday” this weekend, former New York City mayor and Trump surrogate Rudy Giuliani first accused the mainstream media of hiding evidence, then encouraged doubters to “go online and put down ‘Hillary Clinton illness.'”
There is absolutely no credible evidence to backstop any of these claims, including on the “videos” Giuliani cited. Clinton’s physician — the only person to speak on the record who has actually examined her — has repeatedly affirmed the former secretary of state’s health and fitness for the highest office in the land
During an appearance Monday night on the Jimmy Kimmel show, Clinton called the GOP claims about her health a “wacky strategy.”
“I don’t know why they are saying this,” she said. “I think on the one hand, it is part of the wacky strategy, just say all these crazy things and maybe you can get some people to believe you.”
But for those who want to believe, the structure of the lie borders on impenetrable — baked into its “medical” assertions is the tightly held belief that the press is in cahoots with Clinton, protecting her political prospects by working overtime to hide her imagined ailment.
The facts, though, tell a very different story. This is it.

The roots of the health conspiracy theory go back to late 2012

Days before she was first scheduled to testify on Capitol Hill about the Benghazi terror attack in December 2012, Clinton suffered a concussion after becoming dehydrated and fainting. Her appearance, scheduled for December 20, was pushed back as she recovered.
In a bit of dark irony, Clinton’s political opponents then, most notably the Republican former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, suggested that Clinton was faking it — that the secretary of state, as Bolton put it, had come down with a “diplomatic illness” in order to avoid the congressional inquiry.
In the weeks after the injury, Clinton would be hospitalized and prescribed blood thinners to dissolve a blood clot located in a vein behind her right ear. The diagnosis was made during a follow-up exam related to her concussion. The clot did not, per Clinton’s doctors, result in a stroke or any other neurological complications.
On January 23, 2013, a little more than a month after she was first slated to appear before Congress, Clinton testified at length to Senate and House committees about the Benghazi attacks.

Karl Rove helped plant the seeds in 2014

In May 2014, more than a year after Clinton left the State Department, Republican strategist Karl Rove made headlines by suggesting Clinton had suffered brain damage in 2012.
“Thirty days in the hospital? And when she reappears, she’s wearing glasses that are only for people who have traumatic brain injury?” he said, according to a New York Post report. “We need to know what’s up with that.”

Hillary Clinton

to be the next US President

live odds

Will the odds go up or down?

Rove would attempt to walk back his comments a day after they were made public, telling Fox News of the brain damage comment that he “never used that phrase.”
He also conceded that Clinton had not, as he first said, spent a month in the hospital. She was there for about three days. Politifact also slapped a “False” tag on Rove’s claim that Clinton’s prismatic glasses indicated her injuries had been worse than initially let on.
The talk would mostly die down over the next year. In July 2015, Clinton’s longtime physician, Dr. Lisa Bardack, delivered her a clean bill of health.
“(Clinton) had follow-up testing in 2013, which revealed complete resolution of the effects of the concussion as well as total dissolution of the thrombosis,” Bardack wrote. “Mrs. Clinton also tested negative for all clotting disorders.”

The alleged ‘seizures’

The rumors have traveled with remarkable speed through the pipeline connecting small conservative and right-wing blogs to larger outlets like Breitbart, Infowars and Fox News.
First, there was the muffin shop.
During a June photo op in Washington, Clinton turned back reporters’ questions with what AP correspondent Lisa Lerer in a first person account titled “Video proves Clinton suffering seizures? Not so, I was there,” described as “an exaggerated motion, shaking her head vigorously for a few seconds.”
“After the exchange,” Lerer wrote, “(Clinton) took a few more photos, exited the shop and greeted supporters waiting outside.”

This election season should show if nothing else that we as voters need to cease immediately to give away or voting power to the groups we join or follow. You do not have to join any group to decide who you should vote for. Stand on you own and vote your own mind! These candidates, their parties and the associated groups and factions while saying they do, do not necessarily speak for you. Their purpose is together as many members as possible along with donations to further their own agendas. There are no groups who have your entire interest at heart, what they do is to pick a topic that will rile you up the most and beat you over the head with it. Once you have been indoctrinated , they continue with THEIR agenda. The following words need to be your motto: “any subject that does not contribute to society as a whole is not good for me”. If the statements made sound a bit off run the other way. No matter what race you are in America we all in this together and what affects just one of us affects us all even if it doesn’t hit us immediately. There should never have to be a group that protects one segment of the american voters, these groups serve to divide us and keep us from the truth of their agendas-this includes the Congress of the United States who if the truth were known would turn out to be the worst of all the fear mongers and dividers. The old Latin phrase :caveat emptor should be read as let the voters beware! (et in electorum cav).

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Years ago I wrote a speech in College, the title was : “you can’t believe everything you read in the papers”. The article below has proven me right after all of these years.

By Kathleen Searles, Martha Humphries Ginn and Jonathan Nickens

Washington Post

Many news consumers know by now to take any single election-year poll with a grain of salt. Because of sampling variation and the vagaries of survey research, the best approach is to focus not on individual polls but on polling averages.

Our research suggests yet another reason not to overreact to news stories about the newest poll: Media outlets tend to cover the surveys with the most “newsworthy” results, which can distort the picture of where the race stands.

Why? Consider the incentives of the news business. News outlets cover polls because they fit the very definition of newsworthiness. They’re new, timely, often generate conflict and allow political reporters to appear objective by simply telling readers and viewers what the public thinks. Horse-race stories are also popular.

Given that readers are drawn to drama and uncertainty, polls that offer intrigue or new developments — such as a close race or signs that one candidate is surging — are more likely to be deemed newsworthy. In particular, polls with unusual results may be more likely to make the news.

On the other hand, surveys that reveal stability or a lack of drama — such as one candidate maintaining a modest, steady lead — are less likely to get attention. Such judgments may lead news outlets to distort the true state of the race.

Though all this is well known, systematically observing this selection process is hard to do. The best way to study “gatekeeping” is to compare what gets on the news to all of the stories that could have made it on the news. And scholars have a hard time knowing all the possible stories that don’t make it past the gates, although some researchers have tried.

Here’s how we did our research

To get past that, we compared two data sets about polling during the 2008 presidential campaign. First, we collected the entire array of publicly available national presidential vote polls. Second, we analyzed poll coverage on the three broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) and on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC for the last five months of the campaign, from June 4 to Nov. 4. We did this by analyzing transcripts on these channels between 6 and 10 p.m., and recording every mention of a poll, as well as what margin it reported between Obama and John McCain.

That meant we could compare all the polls that the TV networks could have reported on to the polls that they actually did report on.

Television news reported on “dramatic” polls more than the average poll

Here’s what we found. Television news was indeed more likely to report on polls that showed a tight race between Obama and McCain than on polls in which one candidate had a larger lead.

In the graph below, we show our data. The red line shows us the shape of poll results, which tells us the probability of a given result for all released polls. For the purposes of comparison, the margins have been standardized.) The polls were roughly normally distributed. Many showed a 0 — essentially a tied race — and others showed either small leads for Obama (which you’ll see in the positive numbers) or McCain (which shows up in the negative numbers).

But TV news was more likely to report on polls, as you’ll see in the blue line, where the two candidates were close, those between +1 and -1. You can see that in the blue spike right around the 0 mark. In other words, television news viewers got a picture of the 2008 presidential race as much closer than the polls as a whole typically showed it to be. The longer tails of the blue line also suggest television news gave disproportionate air time to a few extreme, outlier polls.

TV news also spent more time reporting on the more dramatic polls

Not only that, but we also compare the polls that made it on the air to the attention those polls received. Sure enough, television news spent more time reporting on surveys in which the race seemed close than was warranted by the actual polling.

In the graph below, we see in the red line that for all the polls that were reported on, Obama tended to hold a lead. That’s why the curve is shifted to the right of zero. Real Clear Politics’ (RCP) polling average had Obama in the lead 144 out of 154 days during the time period examined, so that’s pretty accurate.

But check out the blue line, which shows which of these polls got the most air time. That curve is clustered closer to the zero-line. On average, viewers likely heard more about polls that portrayed the race as close than about polls that more accurately showed Obama in the lead.

Finally, TV news gave more air time to surveys that showed a big jump in one direction or the other. In other words, big changes in poll margins are more dramatic — and more likely to be discussed on air.

So for TV news consumers, the message remains the same: Keep your eye on those polling averages.

Kathleen Searles is an assistant professor of political communication in the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University.

Martha Humphries Ginn is an associate professor of political science at Augusta University.

Jonathan Nickens is a Ph.D. student in political science at Louisiana State University.

© 1996-2016 The Washington Post

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We had something to do with this as well as Britain and others.  We being new to the situation have put up loud shouts based on insufficient information and continue to want to have all out war in the middle east. We would spend valuable capital in lives and money trying fix a problem that we cannot fix. Our end result would be an occupation situation with the guerilla warfare going on around us and with us. This post from Listverse will explain it.

Morris M.
Right now, the phrase “Middle East” is pretty much synonymous with “gigantic clusterf—k.” But how did things get to be so monumentally bad? How did a region once famed for its tolerance, wisdom, and learning turn into one famed for bloodshed, mayhem, and chaos? To figure that out, we need to delve into the region’s history.
10 The Sunni/Shia Split
In AD 632, things must have been looking pretty rosy for Islam. The outcast sect had swept through Mecca, uniting the entire Arabian peninsula. Muhammad’s clan was strong, they had God on their side, and there were fresh lands for conquering.
Then Muhammad died without naming an heir, and everything went to hell.
Between all his conquering and religion-founding, Muhammad hadn’t found time to father a son. This meant that no one knew who took over when he died. Many of his followers thought his father-in-law, Abu Bakr, should be the first caliph. A smaller, separate bunch thought his cousin Ali ibn Abi Talib should be the first Imam. From that minor disagreement arose the sectarian split that’s been haunting the region ever since—the divide between Sunnis (team Abu) and Shia (team Ali).

9 Centuries Of Disagreement
Despite their differences, the two teams rubbed along fine at first. After three Sunni-chosen caliphs, Team Abu even agreed to make Shia Ali their fourth caliph. Everyone was happy.
Then Ali died, and his son took over. Deciding that one Shia caliph was enough, the Sunnis deposed him. That event set the course for the next 1,400 years of history.
The Shia created their own hierarchy, recognizing imams descended from Ali instead of caliphs. Sometimes, these two systems got along, but when they didn’t, the Shia suffered. During the 16th century, the Ottomans mass executed 40,000 Shia. Later, the Indian Mughal emperors would burn Shia scholars alive. Later still, British colonialists would hire Sunni militias to hunt Shia rebels in Iraq.
Naturally, this led to simmering resentments. As history shows, such resentments have a tendency to eventually boil over.
8 Saudi Arabia’s Deal With The Devil
While these problems were ticking over, an 18th-century Islamic reformist named Ibn Abd al-Wahhab was getting mad.
At the time, Sunni Islam had a big list of stuff you couldn’t do (like worshiping images) that the Shia nonetheless did. Wahhab thought the restrictions should be even stricter and that those who broke them were apostates. That meant the Quran sanctioned their killing.
Wahhabism caught on big time in the Sunni world, so much so that the House of Saud decided to make an alliance with its preachers. In return for their endorsement of the fledgling Saud state, the House of Saud would promote the Wahhabists and shower them with funds.
The pact worked; the House of Saud became rulers of the powerful Saudi Arabia. But it also left them in hock to a dangerous, ultraconservative ideology. It wouldn’t be long before their alliance came back to haunt them.
7 Lines On Maps
For centuries, the Sunni Ottoman Empire was the beast of the Middle East. A superpower that styled itself as a continuation of the Caliphate, it was the glue holding the Middle East together.
Then World War I hit.
If the Great War was bad for Europe, it was a calamity for the Ottomans. Their empire disappeared overnight. The Allied powers divided it up into new nations by drawing a series of lines on a map. From the dust of Turkish rule, Syria, Iraq, and other modern nations arose.
The trouble was that these nations were made up of peoples with not much in common. Shias and Sunnis were thrown together and told to play nice. Kurds, Christians, Yazidis, and others were spread thinly between states. Essentially, a whole bunch of mini-Yugoslavias had just been created. And like Yugoslavia, it only worked so long as there was prosperity and no stoking of ethnic tensions.
6 Iran Gets The CIA Treatment
As all this was going on, there still remained one final player waiting in the wings. In 1941, Iran’s pro-Hitler shah was deposed by Allied forces. This led to a brief flirtation with democracy that would have ramifications for those ethnic tensions we just mentioned.
Although the Allies were happy to see the Iranians trying out democracy, they didn’t like who they democratically elected. Mohammad Mosaddegh was a secular, pro-democracy anti-Islamist who just happened to be a Marxist. As such, he nationalized the British-connected Anglo-Persian Oil Company. The Brits went running to the Americans, who orchestrated a coup to remove Mosaddegh and replace him with the shah’s son.
The new shah was just as corrupt and dictatorial as his daddy. Realizing that democracy had just gotten them more oppression, Iran’s masses began to look for alternative methods of revolution. They found them in the county’s marginalized hard-line Shia preachers.
5 Saudi Arabia’s Internal Problems
Back in Saudi Arabia, the House of Saud was in a worrying bind.
By the 1970s, Wahhabism had gotten very extreme. Its anti-Shia, pro-jihad ideology was attracting hate preachers who poured bile across the Middle East, stoking up Sunni-Shia tensions. It was from these teachings that Al-Qaeda would eventually emerge.
Unfortunately, the internal politics of Saudi Arabia had become so tense that pulling the plug on Wahhabism was impossible. The clerics would’ve whipped up a revolution. So the royal family kept quietly funding this poison, exporting Wahhabism to an ever bigger audience.
Like Chinese water torture, this constant drip-drip of hate was slowly taking effect. The Saudis were spending literally billions of dollars pushing an ultra-extreme version of Islam on Sunnis in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and Bahrain—and people were listening. Suddenly, Sunnis and Shia were beginning to look at one another with a whole lot of distrust.
4 Iran Gets Its Revolution
January 7, 1978, marked the moment that all these little streams began to converge into one big, roaring river. It was the start of the Iranian Revolution, a revolution which would see the shah flee, the Ayatollah Khomeini take his place, and the establishment of a hard-line Shia theocracy. It was also the moment that Sunni Saudi Arabia went into panic mode.
The revolution challenged the Saud state’s very being. The Ayatollah explicitly argued that hereditary kingship was against Islam. He also declared post revolutionary Iran to represent all Muslims, something Saudi Arabia already claimed about itself. Those old seventh-century problems about Sunni/Shia legitimacy were resurfacing again.
Over the following decades, both countries began to deliberately play on those issues to legitimize their own rule. Saudi Arabia fed the Wahhabists even more money to preach the evils of Shia Islam. Iran tried to foment a Shia uprising against Saudi Arabia’s ruling Sunni clique. Each interference brought the temperature ever closer to boiling point.
3 The Iraq Disaster
Throughout the Iranian-Saudi rivalry, there was one wild card keeping everyone in check: Both sides regarded Saddam Hussein as an existential threat. The Iraqi dictator’s wild temper and obvious insanity scared everyone and counterintuitively helped to stabilize the region. Like two fighters caged up with a rabid dog, neither side wanted to make the first move and risk being bitten.
Then 2003 rolled round, and the US shot the dog.
Saddam’s death removed the last check on Iran and Saudi Arabia’s power games. Worse, it encouraged the two regional superpowers to try to fill the power vacuum in Iraq. Saudi Arabia sided with Saddam’s deposed Sunni allies, arming them against the new Shia government. Iran, meanwhile, backed Iraq’s new Shia rulers as they went on a bloody rampage against the Sunnis who had ruled them for so long.
One group to benefit from this chaos were Sunni jihadists Al-Qaeda in Iraq. They would eventually become famous under another name—ISIS.
2 Power Games
With no Saddam and Iraq in flames, Iran and Saudi Arabia began to extend their power games across the region. In Lebanon, Bahrain, and Yemen, both backed their Shia or Sunni allies against the other. Propaganda was pumped into conflict-free countries through mosques and outlets like PressTV. Suddenly, the old divide between Sunni and Shia was at the forefront of Middle Eastern life once again.
As new sectarian conflicts erupted across the region, it became harder and harder for Sunnis and Shia elsewhere not to take sides. In the same way that the Irish Troubles stirred Protestant and Catholic rivalries in the UK, these conflicts magnified the ancient schism and made it seem a matter of life and death.
Then, the Arab Spring exploded. As dictators toppled, wars erupted, and old certainties fell, Iran and Saudi Arabia began to fight for control of the emerging new order. Their struggle would eventually come to a head in Syria.
1 Syria Goes To Hell
By 2011, the old sectarian rivalries had been brought to boiling point. Battle-hardened jihadists were preparing for an apocalyptic war. Two regional superpowers were willing to destroy everything in a deadly game of chicken.
It was like everything had been leading up to this. Saudi Arabia saw a chance to remove Assad, the Iran-friendly Shia dictator. Iran felt it couldn’t let Saudi Arabia establish a Sunni client state on its doorstep. When Assad gassed his own people and the West did nothing, many Sunnis saw it as confirmation that the US and Europe were siding with Shia Iran. Primed by decades of apocalyptic Wahhabist preaching, they went to fight, joining and empowering groups like ISIS.
The result is a region that is now more divided than it has been for centuries—a mess of factional alliances, dangerous power games, and two big beasts carelessly using an ancient schism to boost their agendas. Until the dust clears and a winner is eventually declared, it’s likely that the Middle East will remain completely screwed up.

The past several days have brought forth  more erroneous information on the release of hostages from Iran. Dupublicans have loudly touted the idea that the US paid  400 million dollars in ransom for the release of hostages from Iran. Two of the main mouthers of this information include one who should have knowledge of what the real situation was, that person is Paul Ryan,  Dupublican house leader. The second shout out with no facts person is Dupublican candidate for President Donald Trump. The facts are as follows: The United States has held those funds and much more of Iran’s cash for years (since the fall of the Shah in 1979). Holding this cash has given the US some leverage but since we are dealing with an empowered religious leader rather than a diplomat, that  made it more difficult to build any sort of “normal” relation with Iran. This particular release of cash coincides with the release of US citizens but at the same time made this transition easier. This information is something the Speaker could have, should have and probably needed to know before touting the ransom scenario just to make political points. Since the information was wrong, it would make one wonder how much truth is in any statement put out by the party. Remember the middle letters of  Politics is “LI” (lie). We do not have the best choices in this election overall however my choice would be the person who has some experience and not a shoot from the lip huckster. The Dupublicans as a party have pretty much killed their party as a force beyond saying no to any thing put forth by the President and his party. These unending noes have directly affected all of the American people (you know the People they have been so fond of citing without our consent). It is true Mr. Trump speaks his mind but so does a madman and if his followers think this is an asset for a President then they are in for a rude awakening. Each one of us has an opinion on how and what should be done but these opinions are considered in a microcosm which is lacking in the details necessary for a rational opinion which would be more relative to the situations we face.

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As we approach the last months of this election season, the overall scene is one of nastiness and disorder on a scale not seen before. We have the two major parties divided within their ranks and the leading candidates barking at one another like junkyard dogs. The powers within one party have endorsed their candidate as if he had the plague and the other has followers jumping ship for no other reason than anger that their candidate did not become the nominee. These issues along with the unbridled vitriol and false statements have made this election a joy not to behold. We can only hope the winner has a competent cabinet, staff and the wherewithal to understand the gravity of the position. This contest is very much like a horse race having to be run in mud, heat and dust with a few potholes to boot. the outcome is anyone’s guess even with the knowledge of the candidates pedigree. If we could, would we as voters be able to configure a perfect candidate? Politics itself as a science or art of Government (as defined in the New World dictionary) and as such presents an opportunity to examine (without media influence) the candidate’s  potential ability to do the job. Experience in the field is one big need and the other stuff is competency , the ability to comprehend and adjust to the fast changing issues of the office with the most competent solution. There will never be a perfect or permanent solution as the nature of Government issues shift like the sands in a desert. As Betting on a touted horse is not a guaranteed win, betting on a “sure” winner in politics isn’t either.

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Gloria Steinem on woman managing Trump campaign: ‘Like seeing an anti-Semitic candidate being managed by a Jewish person’

Michael Walsh

August 17, 2016

Feminist trailblazer Gloria Steinem was not much impressed by Donald Trump’s appointing a woman to manage his presidential campaign.

“It’s like seeing an anti-Semitic candidate being managed by a Jewish person. It’s not heartening at all. I can’t imagine why she’s doing it,” Steinem told Yahoo News Wednesday, after the Trump campaign announced that Republican strategist and pollster Kellyanne Conway had been promoted to campaign manager.

Steinem, 82, addressed the latest Trump campaign shakeup during a wide-ranging interview with Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric. They discussed Trump’s appeal, political correctness and her memoir, “My Life on the Road,” among other topics.

“He’s a bully and also he’s not a successful businessman. He inherited his money. He calls Hillary cowardly and I think to myself, ‘Have you ever given birth?” Steinem continued. (Steinem, who married for the first time when she was 66, has one stepson.) “It is unprecedented that we have had someone with so little experience, so little accuracy, so much bombast, such a bully.”

According to Steinem, Trump is the candidate of discontent, hatred and nostalgia for a past that never existed.

“He’s big. He’s simple. He’s a brand. He’s not a person. He’s a brand,” she said. “He makes impossible promises and he appeals to people who legitimately are having a hard economic time. … He’s the candidate of unnamed resentments, and everybody knows his name.”

Couric pointed out that bashing political correctness has almost become a mantra for Trump and that it’s been resonating with many Americans — even among people who aren’t supporting him. Many today feel that others are hypersensitive and that it’s too difficult nowadays to speak freely or discuss difficult issues.

“We invented political correctness to make fun of ourselves,” Steinem said, “because we were inventing new words and trying to be inclusive and so on, and doing it with a sense of humor. But the whole point is inclusion, so it doesn’t make sense to me that being incorrect and exclusive is desirable. We’re trying to think of more creative, humane, kind-hearted ways to be inclusive.”

Eventually, the conversation circled around to the fact that many Americans are not particularly excited about Trump or Clinton and lament what they consider the absence of really good candidates on the ballot.

Couric asked Steinem why she thought more people were not embracing public service enthusiastically and going into politics.

“Well, first of all you take a lot of punishment,” Steinem replied. “Look what’s happening to Hillary.”

Secondly, she said, the image of politics as a hotbed of corruption and ineffectiveness has been around since the Nixon administration.

“We’ve been told consciously ever since Nixon that politics is dirty, your vote doesn’t count, which was the campaign he launched to depress the voter turnout,” Steinem said. “That is absolutely untrue. It happens that the voting booth is the only place on Earth where the least powerful and the most powerful are equal.


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