Monday, January 26, 2015

Please Rachel

The incomparable researcher and presenter Rachel Madow should leave MSNBC for any better outlet. The ever declining but once competent CNN would probably love the chance and give her a nice long contract with funding. By sticking with a network that cannot take a stand other than "lean forward" while putting embarrassing "Morning Joe" on the roster she strengthens what should rightfully be considered a failed 24 hr news network. HBO and Comedy Central do the progressive movement far more favors than this sloppy outfit that seems to have no intention of expanding and taking on Fox News on its own turf. Its news gathering is still abysmal many years after booting Keith Olbermann because his opinions did not fit the MSNBC's standard of journalism. Where is the news organization whose ideals were so strongly thought to be more important? 

To effect real change I would suggest that Rachel blow a hole in MSNBC's schedule and see how they fill it. Rachel can do better than a network that would rather exploit our prison population than produce news. Short term ratings pandering with no long term plan has been the mark of MSNBC this holds back one of the best researched and most effective progressive shows I have ever seen. 

PBS's Frontline is the only organization producing actual news in the US. CNN is marginally beginning to shake off its failures. MSNBC either needs to model a real news organization that finances news gathering or get off the pot.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Notes on GOP congressional venture into U.S. foreign policy: "Counting nuclear warheads in the public interest"

Although the Israeli government neither confirms nor denies that it possesses nuclear weapons, it is generally accepted by friend and foe alike that Israel is a nuclear-armed state—and has been so for nearly half a century. The basis for this conclusion has been strengthened significantly since our previous estimate in 2002, particularly thanks to new documents obtained by scholars under the US Freedom of Information Act and other openly available sources.1 We conclude that many of the public claims about the size of the Israeli nuclear arsenal are exaggerated. We estimate that Israel has a stockpile of approximately 80 nuclear warheads for delivery by two dozen missiles, a couple of squadrons of aircraft, and perhaps a small number of sea-launched cruise missiles.

Since the late 1960s, every Israeli government has practiced a policy of nuclear opacity that, while acknowledging that Israel maintains the option of building nuclear weapons, leaves it factually uncertain as to whether Israel actually possesses nuclear weapons and if so at what operational status. Since the mid-1960s, this policy has been publicly expressed—and recently reaffirmed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—as the phrase “We won’t be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East” (Netanyahu, 2011).

This statement is widely seen as a deception, because it is a long-held conclusion among governments and experts that Israel has produced a sizable stockpile of nuclear warheads (probably unassembled) designed for delivery by ballistic missiles and aircraft. Common sense dictates that a country that has developed and produced nuclear warheads for delivery by designated delivery vehicles has, regardless of their operational status, introduced the weapons to the region. But Israeli governments have attached so many interpretations to “introduce” that common sense doesn’t appear to apply.

Counting nuclear warheads in the public interestBulletin of the Atomic Scientists January 1, 2015 7185-90

While I would expect President Obama not to try to squelch dissent as did our previous President, I can use my reasoning to figure out even the smallest note of disapproval indicates the GOP is overstepping it's Constitutional authority. This is a common sense conclusion and I just want to point out that the stakes are high in this regard following Israel's latest use of it's technology of warfare. Again, these are common sense conclusions. Congress does not belong in foreign policy especially in nuclear arms talks.

Koch Brothers Congress

Watch McConnell shut down Democratic voices in the Koch Brothers' Keystone Pipeline bill debate.

"McConnell would not allow debate on an amendment by Senator Ed Markey to close a loophole that could allow the backers of the Keystone pipeline to avoid paying into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, which is used to pay for clean-up in case of an oil spill. He would not allow debate on an amendment by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse to require more campaign finance disclosure from the people who would benefit most from the development of tar sands oil. He would not allow discussion of Senator Patrick Leahy's measure to protect the vital role of local federal district courts in reviewing any legal challenges to the Keystone pipeline." - Huffington Post