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Recent Posts

  1. Culture or Availability
    Sunday, May 19, 2013
  2. More of the Same (Abuse of Power)
    Friday, December 28, 2012
  3. If they had only listened to me...
    Thursday, October 11, 2012
  4. There Must Be a Better Way
    Sunday, September 16, 2012
  5. How much power should the President have?
    Tuesday, September 04, 2012
  6. What's really changed?
    Monday, April 09, 2012
  7. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
    Thursday, December 22, 2011
  8. K.I.S.S. Politics
    Friday, November 18, 2011
  9. What We Learned From Somalia
    Thursday, October 20, 2011
  10. What's the Buzz?
    Saturday, September 03, 2011

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Bogies Rants
Bogies Rants

Culture or Availability

Some interesting numbers for consideration:


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_firearm-re...


The above list shows countries by number of gun deaths per 100,000 people. I will list the top 10 separately:



Country Total firearm-related death rate

El Salvador 50.36

Jamaica 47.44

Honduras 46.70

Guatemala 38.52

Swaziland 37.16

Colombia 28.11

Brazil 19.01

Panama 12.92

Mexico 11.14

United States 10.20


Now let's look at the number of guns per capita in these countries:


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Number_of_guns_per_capita_by_co...


Country Total Guns per person

El Salvador 5.8 (rank 92)

Jamaica 8.1 (rank 74)

Honduras 6.2 (rank 88)

Guatemala 13.1 (rank 49)

Swaziland 6.4 (rank 86)

Colombia 5.9 (rank 91)

Brazil 8.0 (rank 75)

Panama 21.7 (rank 26)

Mexico 15.0 (rank 42)

United States 88.8 (rank 1)


It might be interesting to also note that Serbia has the second highest number of guns per capita but is 19th in deaths by gun per capita at 3.90 per 100,000. Yemen, which is number 2 doesn't have reliable records but Switzerland, which is third on the guns per capita list is 21st on the list of gun deaths per 100,000.


Looking at these numbers it doesn't seem that the number of guns per capita has a direct relationship to the number of gun deaths per capita. To me that indicates that culture may have more to do with this issue than the actual guns in use. I would really like to see some serious study on this by independent and unbiased people but I'm not sure that's even possible given todays climate. It is interesting to see the numbers don't add up the way you would think they might.


Calabogie

More of the Same (Abuse of Power)


Congress and the President can't seem to make the time to compromise on the fiscal cliff issue but they made the time to make sure the FISA will be renewed.  It's worth mentioning that it will be renewed exactly as is with no amendments.

A few months before Obama won the nomination in 2007 he vowed to filibuster the FISA and any act that retroactively immunized the telecom companies from prosecution for wire taps.  He stated in no uncertain terms that FISA was illegal and unconstitutional and his supporters agreed with him, noting that he was a constitutional law professor.

After winning the nomination he then voted FOR the FISA, posting an open letter to his supporters stating, in part:

"This was not an easy call for me. I know that the FISA bill that passed the House is far from perfect. I wouldn't have drafted the legislation like this, and it does not resolve all of the concerns that we have about President Bush's abuse of executive power. It grants retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that may have violated the law by cooperating with the Bush administration's program of warrantless wiretapping. This potentially weakens the deterrent effect of the law and removes an important tool for the American people to demand accountability for past abuses. That's why I support striking Title II from the bill, and will work with Chris Dodd, Jeff Bingaman and others in an effort to remove this provision in the Senate.

"But I also believe that the compromise bill is far better than the Protect America Act that I voted against last year. The exclusivity provision makes it clear to any president or telecommunications company that no law supersedes the authority of the FISA court. In a dangerous world, government must have the authority to collect the intelligence we need to protect the American people. But in a free society, that authority cannot be unlimited. As I've said many times, an independent monitor must watch the watchers to prevent abuses and to protect the civil liberties of the American people. This compromise law assures that the FISA court has that responsibility."

He vowed to have the DoJ review ways to insure that no executive abuse would be possible and that he would correct the problems with the act.

Yesterday, the FISA was renewed by Congress and since the President demanded that there be no amendments, Senate Democrats Reid and Feinstein made sure that the few who proposed amendments were painted as "soft on terror" and that if debate was permitted and the bill was not renewed in time, the terrorists would gain a distinct advantage.  Sound familiar?  It should since that thinking was exactly what Democrats condemned when used by Cheney, Rumsfeld and other Republicans.

So this is what "Hope and Change" is all about.

Calabogie

If they had only listened to me...

If Osama Bin Laden had been captured and put on trial in an Islamic country by an Islamic court the US would be seen in a MUCH better light among Muslims around the world. That would also have given the majority of Muslims the opportunity to say to the world, "See, we are a civilized people who respect Islamic law and we did the right thing." The US would be seen by western countries as a nation that respected the "rule of law" and one that stands by their convictions. More moderate Muslim countries would be more inclined to work with the US to stop terrorism.

For those of you who will argue (and you know you will) that no Islamic country would have taken the chance because they would become a target for extremists, think about how much money the US sends to various predominantly Islamic countries. How much trouble would it be to say to the government of one of those countries, "Here's the deal, either you put OBL on trial in your country under Islamic law or we stop sending you money and support."

There are also countries that are predominantly Islamic but have a secular government. Turkey has Islamic courts as well as secular courts and I doubt they would be fearful of Islamic extremists. There are other countries that could/would have done it as well.

But that's in the past. We missed that opportunity and we can't get it back. We CAN however start doing that with extremist leaders NOW. Instead of sending drones to kill them and "accidently" killing hundreds of innocent civilians in the process, we could send in a covert team to capture them and take them to a country willing to try them under Islamic law. We don't need to capture every single one of them, just enough to show that the US will work with these countries where they are hiding to "do the right thing." Do that a few times and the reputation of the United States will almost certainly begin to rise in the eyes of Muslims around the world.

As a nation, we are trigger happy. Drones are easy and no American lives are in danger when we use them. They are relatively precise so we don't kill hundreds with one strike and we can use them over and over. The problem is that we start to believe that since we only kill a few innocents here and there (adding up to hundreds over time) we're doing well and we aren't pissing people off. We ARE pissing people off though and we're losing status in those countries that otherwise would be on our side.

Right now Obama has promised "justice" for the Libya killings. That justice almost certainly will be based on drone attacks to kill those who killed Americans in Libya. I propose that when they are found (and they will be) that the President sends in a team to capture them and take them to an Islamic country for trial in an Islamic court.

PLEASE do this Mr. President! You will find that it will work wonders for our reputation in countries that now believe we are on a mission to kill all Muslims.

Calabogie

There Must Be a Better Way


What do the terrorists who continue targeting and killing Americans want?  They themselves have said that they want to inflict pain and suffering on us.  Their secondary goal but no less important is to get the United States involved in the middle east in military conflicts.  This not only brings Americans to them where they can target them more easily but it also puts the United States in a position where we are killing innocent civilians.  That not only helps these extremists recruit more militants, it also has the affect of making the United States look bad in international eyes.  The majority of citizens in every country with the exception of Great Britain are against the use of drones in targeting and killing these "enemies of the United States", mostly because drones kill far more people than just those responsible for terrorism.  Innocent people are killed by the hundreds in these drone attacks and while the excuse that "war is a messy business" which has been used often is accurate in some ways, we are not engaged in a conventional war.  We are at war with an idealogy and the drone strikes occur in countries that we are NOT at war with.

What happens is that the backlash caused by these horrific terrorist attacks (such as those in Libya, Tunisia, Yemen and other countries) causes retaliation that not only targets those responsible but others who had nothing to do with the original atrocities. It seems to be a never-ending cycle in which we (the United States) are stuck. If we do nothing in response the people of the US demand "justice" but if we are overzealous in our pursuit of these terrorists we risk helping those same terrorists in their recruiting efforts.

My belief is that the United States should put more emphasis on capturing these criminals and putting them on trial in a friendly Islamic court or the International Court at The Hague. which would not only gain the moral high ground but would also provide moderate Muslims with something to point to with pride, proving that their religion is one of peace and justice rather than terror and killing. If a place like Saudi Arabia or Jordan wouldn't support those trials, there are many other Islamic countries that would accept the responsibility, not only providing "true justice" but also enhancing their place in the world. Bosnia is one such place but there are many others.  My personal belief is that is what should have happened to Osama bin Laden, which would have reduced his reputation to that of nothing more than a criminal and not an icon for the radical fundamentalists.

It is my dream that some day we (the United States) will understand this and pursue true justice rather than base revenge.

Calabogie

How much power should the President have?

The President of the United States ordered the killing of 3 US citizens, 1 of which was a 16 year old boy.  This is not hyperbole or partisanship, it's an established fact that the President and his staff have admitted to.  I'll bet you haven't heard about it since most US citizens aren't aware of it and the media hasn't reported on it.  A reporter named Glenn Greenwald has been writing about it extensively but no other major media outlet in the United States has picked it up, even though some media in the UK and other countries are reporting it.

The United States is targeting first responders and funerals as well.  Are you aware that any male over the age of 18 in certain provinces in Pakistan and Afghanistan are considered "militants" and fair game for drone targeting?  Did you know that hundreds of civilians who have nothing to do with the "war on terror" have been killed by US drones, including many women and children?  Something else you may not know is that drones are not only used in Afghanistan and Pakistan but also in Yemen, The Philippines, Somalia, Uganda, Central African Republic, The Republic of Congo and almost certainly in Rwanda and Sudan.

The use of drones has become standard practice and the targets are approved by the President himself with absolutely no oversight.  Some congressional staffers view some footage after the fact but no Representative or Senator does and even if they did they have no ability to stop it.  The President doesn't have to provide any public proof of criminal or warlike activity.  He doesn't even have to tell anyone who the targets are unless he believes it might enhance his reputation as a "strong leader" against our "enemies", who are loosely defined at best.

The 3 American citizens who were targeted and killed faced no trial.  They weren't officially charged with anything and the President provided no real evidence of their guilt.  They were not permitted due process which the Constitution says is their right regardless of their alleged crimes.  Treason, which is what they are accused of is even spelled out in the Constitution and there is nothing in there that says these people can simply be murdered in cold blood with no trial, no lawyers, no recourse whatsoever.  Two of them may have indeed been terrible people but the 16 year old was simply the son of one of the others.

I do not post this because Obama is in office.  I do not post it because I have any gripe with Democrats.  The Republicans aren't screaming about this because they know when the regain the White House they will also have the ability to do this due to the precedent set by President Obama.  For those that support Obama ask yourself this question, "Would you want Mitt Romney to have this power?"  Then ask yourself this, "If Michelle Bachmann becomes President in 2016 do you want her to have this power?"

A few congress people have signed a letter to the President protesting this but it gained almost no media attention and was completely ignored by the White House.  THIS IS WRONG PEOPLE!  I will vote for ANYONE who will condemn this activity and promise to keep it from ever happening again.  I am not ashamed of my country and I proudly serve in a civilian capacity at this time.  I AM ashamed of both parties however because they are allowing this to happen and in some cases even encouraging it.  Only WE can stop this from happening and I'm hoping to find some way to make my voice and the voice of those who agree with me heard at the highest levels.

If you would like to make your voice heard, please go to the link below and add your name to my petition.  You will be required to input your name and email address but it does not need to be your real name and email address.  Please support this petition and let our representatives know that you believe this is not up to the standards we in the United States have set for ourselves:


Calabogie

What's really changed?


I keep reading posts detailing how Obama has brought "change" to Washington but I just don't see it. Almost every mention of "change" involves health care/insurance and while I agree that Obama has made changes, they aren't the dramatic changes everyone seems to think they are. Sure, people will blame the Republicans for that but the fact is that health care/insurance hasn't really changed much and won't even after the bill is completely enacted. The insurance companies still run things so that hasn't really changed. There have been some modifications that were good but not "change."

Ok, so another is "he got us out of Iraq and is getting us out of Afghanistan." Really? Bush set the timetable for both of those withdrawals and Obama didn't change it. Nothing changed there as we were committed to getting out at almost the exact time we DID get out.

What else? He didn't close Gitmo, he didn't do away with "The Patriot Act", he didn't stop torture (even while new calls for Bush and Cheney to stand trial for war crimes echo), he didn't stop rendition, he didn't stop spying on US citizens. Heck, he even advanced the executive power to make it possible for the President to sentence US citizens to death and carry out that sentence without trial.

So, did he curb corporatism? Did he bring the hammer down on Wall Street? With all those corporate and Wall Street big wigs in his White House I kind of doubt that. Did he bring more regulation to the banks? Not really even though much was made of various bills pushed through Congress. No one seems to understand that those bills were written by bankers, Wall Streeters, and corporate lawyers.

Yeah, but he improved the economy! Really? Unemployment is at 8.8 percent (last time I checked) and the housing market experts say it's going to get worse before it gets better. Ah, but the economy grew/is growing according to reports! Really? With housing prices still falling (asset wealth declining) and the jobless rate still well over 8 percent (real income declining) and everyone screaming that the "wealth gap" is getting worse?

What about cutting spending, especially the defense budget? Isn't that happening? Not really. Increases have been reduced but the spending is STILL increasing. It's just being done at a slower rate. Interestingly, the ones who really suffer because of those cuts are government workers. Many will say that's a good thing because the government is too bloated but think about this: Government workers are being reduced but budgets are still increasing. How does that work for you? More people out of work but still more spending, just at a slower rate of increase.

But we should worry about the climate, or the food at the grocery store, or child care, or education, or something other than what the government is and has been doing for a long time.

For those who say "he's better than Bush", prove it!

Calabogie

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


I haven't posted in a while due to some back problems and a bit of what I like to call "Jerkitude" from a large German utility company.  I've been spending all my free time either laying on my back or dealing with people who have no clue that real people are on the other end of the services they provide.

In any case, I don't want to depress anyone. lol  Our Christmas is still going great and our New Year will be even better.  We wish all of you a wonderful holiday season.

Calabogie (and family)

K.I.S.S. Politics

Political matters aren’t generally a good topic for conversation at a party or at work.  Even within a family it’s usually not the best idea to start a discussion with, “I’m a [party affiliation] and I think the [opposing party] are a bunch of kooks!”  I haven’t been on a date in decades but I can’t imagine someone bringing up politics and expecting to graduate to “relationship” status.  On the interweb however that seems to be one of the best ways to ensure a long and active discussion thread.   Nothing quite gets a flame war going like a good shot across the bow of the “other party”, usually referred to as “idiots” or worse.

I enjoy discussing politics and many other contentious topics, partly because I enjoy expressing myself in print, but mostly because I really do learn from most of the discussions.  Sure, much of what is posted in response to a political topic is unintelligible or worse but some of it is really interesting and quite often illuminating.  That’s part of the reason I post on forums that others shun.  Many people simply don’t want to become involved in the ever-present flame wars and name-calling that occurs on almost every discussion forum across the interweb.  I try to just ignore those sections and concentrate on the more reasonable posters who have something to say about WHY they believe as they do.

The problem is that the interweb is often simply an echo chamber (if you’ll forgive the cliché) of party politics.

The 2 major parties in the United States have learned that the simpler the message, the easier it is to have it repeated by supporters.  That’s not anything new to politics and it’s not a new concept.  Making it simple for followers is something that I would imagine has been used as a tool to marginalize those not “in the group” for thousands of years.  What is new to politics is the ease with which “the message” can be spread.  On the interweb a simple phrase such as, “socialized medicine” or “tax cuts for the rich” can spread like wildfire and be used by hundreds of thousands of people within minutes.  With blogging being such a big part of the interweb and major news media sites pounding out opinion pieces as though they were honest reporting it’s even easier now since many popular political bloggers simply parrot the party line.  As I said, these phrases aren’t new but they have become much more powerful in recent years.  Take these short topics for example and see if you can line them up with the proper party:

“They want socialized medicine”

“They don’t care about clean air or water”

 “They want to redistribute wealth”

 “They’re beholden to big business”

“They hate the [class of people]”

“They aren’t helping the middle class”

Those last 2 are a bit generic and can fit into either parties marketing plan.  That’s part of the beauty of it because both parties can actually use the same slogans and tactics, just by changing the pronouns.

You might ask, “What’s wrong with that Calabogie?”  Well, in the first place those phrases/slogans simply aren’t true.  You can generalize and say that “they’re basically true” but you’d be guilty of the same type of chicanery the 2 major parties are engaging in.  Neither party believes in absolutes because if they did they’d never gain or keep public office.  It’s a pretty well documented fact that independents are generally the swing vote in almost any election and independents generally don’t like to hear absolute statements.

Is that a lie?  Yep, you spotted it and you may recognize that I’m doing the same thing I’m accusing the parties of doing.  That part about “independents generally don’t like to hear absolute statements” is not really true but it’s a great sound-bite used by both parties.  The truth is most independents (as in more than 50 percent) aren’t substantially different from a Democrat or a Republican.  They simply don’t want to follow the crowd and become a member of one of those groups.  Voting trends among independents follow patterns and often those patterns are either conservative or liberal, thus falling in line with one of the 2 major parties.

So you may ask, what’s the difference?  Both parties are lying by generalizing but in the end most people vote the same way time after time.  While that is true the real swing voters, those who will vote for either a Democrat or a Republican depending on their stance, can sometimes be swayed by these generic lies.  If you hear someone is a “bad person” often enough you may begin to think it’s true.  The old expression, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire” is often a good indicator of voter sentiment.  It doesn’t really matter if they actually are “bad people” or not, the accusation is usually enough to derail a campaign.  Thus the party emphasis on generalities that aren’t true.

So, both political parties in the United States use the K.I.S.S. principle (Keep It Simple Stupid) to get their message out and sway voters who may be susceptible to rumor or innuendo.  Why explain a complicated subject when you can simply say something like, “[Party] is for/against that!” even if that parties position is much more nuanced.  A short sound-bite is often much more powerful than a complicated position paper and therefore more effective.

Calabogie

What We Learned From Somalia


Evidently nothing!

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2011/10/obama-sends-100...

"He said that “although the U.S. forces are combat-equipped, they will only be providing information, advice, and assistance to partner nation forces, and they will not themselves engage LRA forces unless necessary for self-defense.”

It doesn't matter that the troops are supposed to be limited to "advising partner nations" and it doesn't matter if the rationale is "logical" in the minds of politicians or supporters. What matters is that the US has no business sending troops of any kind to any African nation, let alone multiple African nations.

Most of the governments in northern Africa are corrupt and brutal. The problem is that the "rebels" who overthrow those governments are equally corrupt and brutal. It's been that way for hundreds of years and there's no sign of it changing. There's also no logical reason to think it WILL change anytime soon. Yes, there are 1 or 2 countries that are relatively stable and peaceful among the more than 2 dozen countries located in the mid-north and north of the continent, but they are the exception and the US would never send troops there anyway.

So, why has the US sent troops into an African country with a mandate to "assist" in the eradication of one specific rebel group? Is that group worse than the groups listed at the end of this post?* Is there something the US wants in that area? Is this a mission to make the new AfriCom Army command more prominent? What exactly is the motivation behind sending troops (advisor or otherwise) into that area? Please enlighten me because in the time I spent living there I saw nothing that would justify a US military presence.

Calabogie (see list below for just a few of the groups)

*Sudan

Alliance of Revolutionary Forces of West Sudan
JJanjaweed
Justice and Equality Movement
Liberation and Justice Movement
National Movement for Reform and Development
Rashaida Free Lions
South Sudan Defence Forces
South Sudan Liberation Movement
Sudan Liberation Movement/Army
Sudan People's Liberation Army/Movement

Somalia

Al-Shabaab
Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism
Hizbul Islam
Islamic Courts Union
Al-Itihaad al-Islamiya
Rahanweyn Resistance Army
Somali National Front

Chad

Armed Forces of the North
Chadian People's Revolutionary Movement
Command Council of the Armed Forces of the North
Democratic Revolutionary Council
FROLINAT
JJanjaweed
Liberation Front of Chad
Movement for Democracy and Justice in Chad
People's Armed Forces
Platform for Change, Unity and Democracy
Popular Front for the Liberation of Chad
Popular Movement for the Liberation of Chad
Rally for Democracy and Liberty
Union of Forces for Democracy and Development
Union of Forces for Democracy and Development–Fundamental
United Front for Democratic Change
Volcan Army
Western Armed Forces

Nigeria

Bakassi Movement for Self-Determination
Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta
Niger Delta People's Volunteer Force
Niger Delta Vigilante
Operation Hurricane Barbarossa
Government Tompolo

Central African Republic

People's Army for the Restoration of Democracy (CAR)

Democratic Republic of Congo

Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo
Army for the Liberation of Rwanda
Congolese Revolutionary Movement
Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda
Front for Patriotic Resistance in Ituri
Mai-Mai
Movement for the Liberation of the Congo
National Congress for the Defence of the People
Nationalist and Integrationist Front
People's Armed Forces of Congo
Rally for Congolese Democracy
Resistance Patriots of Dongo

What's the Buzz?


Just posting to put something up.  I have some posts almost ready to go but I've been busy.  Look for new posts in about 2 weeks.

Hope everyone is having a wonderful Labor Day weekend!  We are celebrating our 27th wedding anniversary.

Calabogie

PS - For you spammers posting comments, at least have the decency to click on the ad link over there on the right.  Post as many comments as you want but for every comment I'd appreciate a click on that link.