Posts Tagged ‘politicians’

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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The Sunday Sermon

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I’ve been saying it for a long time – and now the President of the United States agrees with me – he doesn’t know WTF he’s doing!

Obama on Syria - we don't have a strategy yet

I can’t say as I take much satisfaction from his admission though.

The US President is the most powerful man in the world and he has at his disposal the most powerful military organization in the world.

Yet he doesn’t know what to do with it, when to do it, or even who to aim it at!

A bit of it, belatedly and half-heartedly, is now pointing at ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria. Yes, you’re right, they are the very same Islamic terrorists he was funding for a while in Syria! He says he wasn’t, but in practice he was.

Confused?

You should be.

Because the Obama Administration certainly is!

Indeed Obama’s team of idiots have confused themselves to the degree that they don’t know what to do and are afraid to do it even if they did!

The situation is not being helped by the noise coming from the equally ill-informed politicians in the Republican camp either. Some cynics would say they are doing a lot of it with the November elections in mind!

Political Elephant and Donkey Cartoon

As I’ve said before on this blog, America has never been good at foreign policy. There are so many examples over the years to prove this beyond any and all doubt (Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, now Syria). But this latest debacle could turn out to be foreign policy failure on a grand scale.

This is simply down to the fact that, even yet, the Obama administration clearly does not understand the severity of the problem. They haven’t managed to process the long term threat that a well armed, well supported and well funded group like ISIS can become.

Everyone – except the President and his people apparently – knows that these terrorists will not be content even if they are allowed to establish a fundamentalist Islamic state in the Middle East. Their hatred of anything and everything in the West is total.

In fact, as we have seen in Iraq and Syria, their hatred even extends to fellow Muslims who they do not consider to be ‘militant enough’ and they have attacked and murdered them in just the same ways as they have attacked and murdered Christians.

In Syria, which is none of our business, the Obama team thought they wanted the Assad regime removed, and to get that done they thought they could support ISIS (or the anti-Assad fighters of whom ISIS were always destined to be a big part).

Now the US may well find itself on the same side as Assad in a fight against the terrorists. And that may be the crux of the US Administration’s problem. They made the wrong move, at the wrong time, in the wrong place, for all the wrong reasons and correcting the mistake will require a major volte face and sizeable portion of humble pie.

Are they big enough to swallow it?

We’ll see.   

humble-pie

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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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A few weeks ago I wrote a post that I called “Why are the bureaucrats destroying what made America great?” (if you want to refer to it please click here

In it I posed the question as to why a self-defeating wealth-distributing philosophy is taking the place of the business-friendly environment that America is famed for and that made it the wealthiest nation on Earth. And why the bureaucrats are trying to make it increasingly more difficult and expensive for businesses to operate in the US rather than offering more incentives and encouragement.

drop business incentive programs

The example I gave in the previous post was the huge pharmaceutical corporation called AbbVie, which was relocating from Chicago, Illinois, to Europe and thereby effectively cutting its tax bill in half – a significant saving when you are generating billions of dollars in revenue each year.

Now the latest corporation to show its frustration with the way things are deteriorating in America is the Miami based fast food giant Burger King. It is currently in merger talks with Canadian coffee chain Tim Hortons, in a deal that would allow Burger King to relocate out of the US with a view to trying to cut its “big whopper”  of a tax bill too.

Since the new company would be headquartered in Canada, Burger King would no longer be liable for punitive US taxes which are now regarded as the highest among developed economies.

It’s another high profile example of what is called an ‘inversion’ deal, a strategy that allows US firms to lower their tax bills by merging with a foreign company, and then relocating to the new country.

tim hortons logo

The Obama administration’s response has been predictable  –  cry foul, say it’s not fair, and tell these corporations to forget about the best strategy for their business and just wrap themselves in the Star Spangled Banner.

“My attitude,” the President declared in July, “is I don’t care if it’s legal — it’s wrong.”

It’s great to love your country, but it’s tough when the government of your country doesn’t love you back! And it will take more than bogus emotional claptrap to change the minds of hard-headed businessmen.

What Obama and his henchmen should be doing is asking themselves why it is happening and what THEY are doing wrong that makes these giant wealth creating corporations want to get out of America as fast as they can.

But they won’t do that.

That would make sense –  and sense is the last thing that the bureaucrats want to apply to any situation.

So they’ll continue to spend money they don’t have, on things the country can’t afford and probably doesn’t need, and then pass the bill on to the tax payers.

Their short term solution to these corporate inversion deals will be to try to legislate to make them illegal. Good luck with that, I have never seen legislation drafted by an idiot bureaucrat that a team of top corporate lawyers couldn’t drive a coach and horses through.

So rather than stopping the exodus, it’s more of a question of what will be the next corporation to leave???

drive a coach and horses through

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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Welcome to Quiz Day on the fasab blog.

Chocolate, yoghurt and a lot more make up today’s questions.

So why not pour yourself a cup of coffee too and have a go?

As usual, if you get stuck, you can find the answers waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down below, but please NO cheating!

Enjoy and good luck.

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Q.  1:  What are the names of the two famous Star Wars robots?

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Q.  2:  How many muscles does your body use to balance itself when you are standing still?

            a)  100             b)  200             c)  300             d)  400              e)  500

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Q.  3:  What is the name of the largest and oldest chocolate company in the U.S.?

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Q.  4:  ‘tcby’ now means ‘The Country’s Best Yogurt’ but what did the letters ‘tcby’ originally stand for?

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Q.  5:  Who was the leader of the Macedonian Empire?

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Q.  6:  Time to rack up a lot of points, what were the names of the six principal actors in the long running hit TV series ‘Friends’?  (Bonus points if you can also correctly name the characters they played.)

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Q.  7:  What is the name generally used for the traditional curved blade Japanese sword?

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Q.  8:  Recently they seem to be trying to put it back up again, but in what year was the Fall of the Iron Curtain?

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Q.  9:  Approximately how many pieces of ‘space junk’ are orbiting around Earth?

            a) over 4,000          b) over 6,000          c) over 8,000         d) over 10,000

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Q. 10:  There’s a new one out this year, but how many ‘Planet Of The Apes’ based movies have there been? (Bonus points if you can name them and even more bonus points if know the years they were released.)

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Q. 11:  Which two rivers meet at Khartoum to make the Nile?

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Q. 12:  Who, in 2012, became the first person to break the sound barrier, unprotected and under his own power?

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Q. 13:  During World War II approximately how many tanks were produced by American factories?

            a)  59,000           b)  69,000           c)  79,000           d)  89,000           e)  99,000

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Q. 14:  Who is the current Prime Minister of Canada?

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Q. 15:  Isadora Duncan, known as the mother of modern dance, was killed in an unusual way, how?

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Q. 16:  What is the recommended standard recreational diving limit for ordinary divers?

            a)  20 meters              b)  30 meters              c)  40 meters              d)  50 meters

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Q. 17:  In Las Vegas, what is the name of the ancient Egyptian themed hotel with a pyramid shaped casino?

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Q. 18:  What was the name of the mythical Roman god of war?

 

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Q. 19:  Who was ‘Dr Frasier Crane’ and his brother ‘Dr Niles Crane’? (A point for each correct answer.)

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Q. 20:  What musician is known as “The Boss” and what was the name of the band he played with? (A point for each correct answer.)

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ANSWERS

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Q.  1:  What are the names of the two famous Star Wars robots?

A.  1:  The two famous Star Wars robots are called 3CP0 and R2D2.

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Q.  2:  How many muscles does your body use to balance itself when you are standing still?

            a)  100             b)  200             c)  300             d)  400              e)  500

A.  2:  Your body uses 300 muscles to balance itself when you are standing still.

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Q.  3:  What is the name of the largest and oldest chocolate company in the U.S.?

A.  3:  The largest and oldest chocolate company in the U.S. is Hershey’s. Founded by Milton S. Hershey in 1894, this company produces over one billion pounds of chocolate products every year.

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Q.  4:  ‘tcby’ now means ‘The Country’s Best Yogurt’ but what did the letters ‘tcby’ originally stand for?

A.  4:  The letters ‘tcby’ originally stood for ‘This Can’t Be Yogurt’, but the name was changed after the company was sued by a rival company called ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Yogurt’.

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Q.  5:  Who was the leader of the Macedonian Empire?

A.  5:  Alexander the Great.

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Q.  6:  Time to rack up a lot of points, what were the names of the six principal actors in the long running hit TV series ‘Friends’?  (Bonus points if you can also correctly name the characters they played.)

A.  6:  The six ‘Friends’ were Jennifer Aniston as ‘Rachel Green'; Courteney Cox as Monica Geller; Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay; Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani; Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing; and David Schwimmer as Ross Geller.

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Q.  7:  What is the name generally used for the traditional curved blade Japanese sword?

A.  7:  The traditional curved blade Japanese sword is called a ‘Katana’.

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Q.  8:  Recently they seem to be trying to put it back up again, but in what year was the Fall of the Iron Curtain?

A.  8:  The Iron Curtain fell in 1989.

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Q.  9:  Approximately how many pieces of ‘space junk’ are orbiting around Earth?

            a) over 4,000          b) over 6,000          c) over 8,000         d) over 10,000

A.  9:  The correct answer is c) over 8,000.

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Q. 10:  There’s a new one out this year, but how many ‘Planet Of The Apes’ based movies have there been? (Bonus points if you can name them and even more bonus points if know the years they were released.)

A. 10:  There have been eight planet of the apes movies so far, ‘Planet of the Apes’ (1968); ‘Beneath the Planet of the Apes’ (1970); ‘Escape from the Planet of the Apes’ (1971); ‘Conquest of the Planet of the Apes’ (1972); ‘Battle for the Planet of the Apes’ (1973); ‘Planet of the Apes’ (2001); ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ (2011); and ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ (2014).

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Q. 11:  Which two rivers meet at Khartoum to make the Nile?

A. 11:  It’s easier than you think, the two rivers that meet at Khartoum to make the Nile are the White & Blue Niles.

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Q. 12:  Who, in 2012, became the first person to break the sound barrier, unprotected and under his own power?

A. 12:  Felix Baumgartner became the first person to break the sound barrier, unprotected and under his own power. In his record breaking stunt he reached speeds of up to 834 mph.

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Q. 13:  During World War II approximately how many tanks were produced by American factories?

            a)  59,000           b)  69,000           c)  79,000           d)  89,000           e)  99,000

A. 13:  The correct answer is d) 89,000.

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Q. 14:  Who is the current Prime Minister of Canada?

A. 14:  Stephen Harper.

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Q. 15:  Isadora Duncan, known as the mother of modern dance, was killed in an unusual way, how?

A. 15:  Isadora Duncan was pulled from the vehicle in which she was a passenger and violently slammed against the road when her long scarf got caught in the wheel. Her neck was broken and she died on impact.

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Q. 16:  What is the recommended standard recreational diving limit for ordinary divers?

            a)  20 meters              b)  30 meters              c)  40 meters              d)  50 meters

A. 16:  The correct answer is b) 30 Meters (98 feet), the average depth at which nitrogen narcosis symptoms begin to appear in adults.

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Q. 17:  In Las Vegas, what is the name of the ancient Egyptian themed hotel with a pyramid shaped casino?

A. 17:  It’s called the ‘Luxor’.

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Q. 18:  What was the name of the mythical Roman god of war?

A. 18:  Mars.

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Q. 19:  Who was ‘Dr Frasier Crane’ and his brother ‘Dr Niles Crane’? (A point for each correct answer.)

A. 19:  They were Kelsey Grammar and David Hyde Pierce from the wonderful hit TV sitcom ‘Frasier’.

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Q. 20:  What musician is known as “The Boss” and what was the name of the band he played with? (A point for each correct answer.)

A. 20:  In the music world “The Boss” is Bruce Sprigsteen and he played with the E Street Band.

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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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The Sunday Sermon

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“It was the Russians, they’re the ones to blame.”

“It was Putin. He’s the baddie. We can’t let him get way with it!”

 malaysia-airlines-flight-mh17

So go the cries in the US in the aftermath of the shooting down of Air Malaysia Flight MH17 over the Ukraine.

And that was long before any of the facts had been collected and it was known who shot down a plane on a different continent, or why. 

Russia wants (virtual) control of the Ukraine. There isn’t really any doubt about that. For them it is a strategic imperative. Russia’s history has taught it that it needs to be able to control a vast amount of territory, if only to use as a buffer zone against invasion.

The situation is not helped by various US Presidents and Secretaries of State giving Russia assurances that they would not attempt to involve the peripheral former Soviet states in things like NATO – and then trying to do the exact opposite.

It is now widely accepted that the underlying reason for the unrest in the Ukraine and Russia’s reaction is because of US interference in that country, which included helping to overthrow its democratically elected president, Viktor Yanukovych, and replace him with someone who was a virtual puppet of the West.

That was just asking for trouble. And they should have known it.

And they will get trouble, probably much more than they bargained for.

Unfortunately that will impact on ordinary people, like us.

 Major_NATO_affiliations_in_Europe

Just as the US has its beady eyes on bringing the Ukraine and other former Soviet states into pro-Western organizations like NATO, it is equally certain that Putin will have his beady eyes on not only bringing the former Soviet states back firmly under Russian control, but in perhaps expanding his relationships with other parts of Europe.

Putin has the energy reserves to do it. Whilst there is very little in the way of direct trade between the US and Russia, particularly in regard to energy supplies, (Russia is just the United States’ 20th largest trading partner), Europe is largely dependent on Russian gas to keep it going. Over 30 percent of the European Union’s energy supplies come from Russia and the EU is Russia’s largest trading partner.

Russia’s counter strategy, therefore, will obviously be to use its considerable economic influence as leverage to try to break up the NATO alliance and to separate the European power house, Germany, from its Anglo-American alliance.

Putin is being helped by the arrogance of America’s government spooks who thought they could spy on their friends and allies, even going so far as tapping the phone of German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, without there being consequences.  

consequences

Prompted by leaks from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the fallout from America’s spying debacle continues, people have been arrested, and the German government has even ordered the local CIA station chief to pack his bags and leave the country.

Germany may still place some value on its relationship with the US, but not nearly so much as previously, thanks solely to America’s lack of respect for them.

Putin and his advisors know this, even if Obama and Kerry don’t. They see Germany as ready for change. And they may well be right. The German people are angry at the contempt America has shown for them  – just as Americans would rightly have been if the Germans had done the same to them and their President  –  and they are increasingly frustrated at the burden the European Union has become economically.

If the US doesn’t catch itself on and behave differently and with respect towards its foreign friends, it may find that there will be changes it did not expect and certainly did not want.

Kerry Putin Obama

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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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We had it with the real estate market. Billions of dollars being lent to people who obviously couldn’t afford it.

We saw the trouble, hardship, misery and financial woes that were caused as credit dried up, real estate prices began to tumble, and bankruptcies and foreclosures increased.

And we know the damage it did to the economy when irresponsible banks and other lenders went bust and almost brought down the entire financial system. 

Smart people would learn from such a situation.

Smart people would never contemplate doing such a thing again.

But despite what they would like to have you believe, bankers are not smart people. They’re dumb and they are greedy, a deadly combination.

bad credit 100 percent financing

As a result of the financial crisis millions of Americans (and people in other countries too) have been left with poor credit scores. Yet remarkably they are now able to easily obtain auto loans from used-car dealers, including some who fabricate or ignore borrowers’ abilities to repay. Even if you are bankrupt or living only on social security, banks like Wells Fargo will lend you thousands of dollars to buy a used car.

It’s called the new sub-prime boom, because the lack of caution resembles the frenzied sub-prime mortgage market before its collapse. And it is already bringing misery to many people who have been suckered into taking out loans that they clearly could not afford.

Worse than that, these sub-prime auto loans often come with terms that take advantage of the most desperate, least financially sophisticated customers, with interest rates that can exceed 20 percent. And many of the loans can be at least twice the value of the second hand cars they are being used to purchase!

wall street car crash

This creates a vicious circle for some borrowers, who still owe money on a car that they are trading in when they purchase another one, meaning that the former debt is rolled over into the new loan and they end up, not just paying too much for their current car, but also continue to pay off the loan on their previous car that they don’t even have!

This is the way loan sharks operate. Eventually you end up borrowing your own money and paying them interest for the privilege!

This surge in sub-prime auto lending is being driven by some of the same dynamics that were at work in sub-prime mortgages. There is a veritable deluge of money pouring into sub-prime autos, as the high rates and steady profits of the loans attract investors.

And just as Wall Street stoked the boom in mortgages, some of the nation’s biggest banks and private equity firms are now feeding the growth in sub-prime auto loans by investing in lenders and making money available for loans.

To quote some of the figures, auto loans to people with bad credit have risen more than 130 percent in the five years since the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis, with roughly one in four new auto loans last year going to borrowers considered sub-prime, that is, people with credit scores at or below 640. Wells Fargo, mentioned earlier, made $7.8 billion in auto loans in the second quarter of this year, up 9 percent from a year earlier, and has at least $50 billion in auto loans on its books.

greedy bankers

Even worse, as was the case with sub-prime mortgages before the financial crisis, many sub-prime auto loans are being bundled up into complex bonds and sold as securities by banks to insurance companies, mutual funds and public pension funds. They are all scrambling for these, which in turn creates ever-greater demand for loans, and leads to the banks issuing more and more sub-prime credit.

Unbelievably it’s the same crooks doing exactly the same thing, including using incorrect information about borrowers’ income and employment, so that people who had lost their jobs, or were bankrupt, or living on Social Security, could qualify for loans that they could never afford.

carbuying credit report

Admittedly, the size of the sub-prime auto loan market is only a tiny fraction of the sub-prime mortgage market at its peak, and its implosion would not have the same far-reaching consequences.

For the banks the investors silly enough to buy their bonds, that is.

But the misery is just as great for the people who are suckered into accepting credit they cannot afford.

Illegal it may not be, but immoral it certainly is.

Political leaders who sit astride high horses and purport to be working on behalf of the ordinary people should be doing something about it.

But, as I’ve said before, don’t hold your breath!

obama used car salesman

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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Now there’s a headline. Let’s repeat it…

Obama says Iraq’s government needs help!

Long live hypocrisy!

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Time for a Sunday Sermon I think!

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Iraqi flag

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I say hypocrisy for one simple reason, Obama  –  remember him, the man who was getting all the troops OUT of Iraq  –  wants to send them back in again because of the almighty mess that America, Britain and other western nations made blundering about in a country they didn’t understand.

It’s worse than that, of course, because Obama wants to send the troops back into Iraq to help stave off attacks by radical Islamists who have been making inroads in various parts of Iraq and are now threatening to close in on Baghdad itself.

This what he said, “I don’t rule out anything, because we do have a stake in making sure that these jihadists are not getting a permanent foothold in either Iraq or Syria.”

But hang on a minute.

There’s that stench of hypocrisy again.

Are these not the very same terrorists who Obama is supporting financially and with arms shipments in Syria?

They may have different names in different countries but these terrorists collectively want to establish an Islamic state in the region that surpasses national boundaries and governments. And from there, who knows?

It really is that simple. But it seems American foreign policy is in its usual state – completely confused, completely devoid of logic and good sense.

The mess that has been left behind in Iraq is catastrophic.

The country has more or less disintegrated politically and militarily, with Islamic militants capturing the country’s second-largest city this week after soldiers scattered, leaving their uniforms and weapons behind. So much for the $15 billion Washington (i.e., the American taxpayer) has already provided in training, weapons and equipment to the Iraqi government!

The result of this capitulation is that at least half a million ordinary citizens are understandably fleeing as the terrorists gain ground.

America’s ‘re-intervention’ will start with air strikes, possible using drones. But the chances of that doing anything more than temporarily halting the terrorists are slight. Next will come increased supplies of arms and equipment for the ‘official’ Iraqi forces. And then ‘advisors’ will be sent in  –  they’re probably already there, their presence will just be officially acknowledged.

There was a strong indication of what will come after that, when White House spokesman Jay Carney said. “We are not contemplating ground troops, I want to be clear about that.”

I have seldom seen a clearer admission that the White House is actively considering sending ground troops back into Iraq!

SoS Kerry has been wheeled out again to tell the world that the situation presently is not just a threat to Iraq, but to the United States and the rest of the world. We all know that John. What we also know  –  and what you don’t  –  is that more blundering about in a situation you do not understand, more young American live sacrificed for nothing, and more brave souls maimed for life to satisfy political whims won’t make things any better.

Will common sense ever prevail? Sadly I very much doubt it. The lack of understanding exhibited by the politicians seems to span all parties.

The lunatics are in charge of the asylum.

So there’s more stupidity on the way!

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Ethno-religious map of Iraq

Ethno-religious map of Iraq, courtesy of the Washington Post

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