Saturday, September 15, 2012

Barack Obama, the Mideast and Mr. Romney

The following was written by my erudite friend, Bob Poris, in response to articles in some German newspapers dealing with the relationship between the United States (and thus President Obama) and the Middle East.  

The newspapers cited were:  Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung; Berliner Zeitung; and the Suddeutsche Zeitung.

There is a lot of nonsense perpetrated by these newspapers.

Obama's speech to the Muslim world when he addressed them was not designed to do anything but promise he was open to dialogue after many years of their being ignored.

His waging of both wars has been more effective than his predecessors and he has ended one war and reduced our participation in the other by following the advice of the generals rather than a bunch of neocons and hawks.  He has done more in three years to devastate al Qaeda by killing off their leaders and large numbers of radical Islamists than Bush did in eight years!  He reopened the search for bin Laden and ordered the attack that killed him.  He assisted in the removed of Gaddafi and has been wise enough not to interfere in Syria or other Arab nations since the Arab Spring.

He has increased the effectiveness of sanctions against Iran as WE ARE NOT PREPARED TO GO TO WAR WITH IRAN!  He has sent badly-needed equipment including bombs and other devices to strengthen Israel's military.  He stays in contact with Israel's leaders and military officers.  Thus far President Obama has consistently stood up for Israel at the U.N. and has never withheld requests for arms or aid, in contrast to his predecessors!

Obama was wise to take the time to assess events in the Arab world created by the notorious anti-Islam film.  HE DID NOT APOLOGIZE, NOR HAS HE SHOWN WEAKNESS WHILE WAITING FOR THE FACTS TO BE KNOWN.  (ROMNEY SHOULD HAVE WAITED BUT HE DID NOT!)  Obama's phone call to Egypt was obviously effective and things changed overnight.  What should we have done, started a war?  We have not changed our laws regarding freedom of speech or religion.  It would be nice if the critics could come up with valid suggestions as to how we could change our laws without giving up the freedoms most of us value.

It is a fact that we do not "own" the dictators or kings of the Middle East.  Some of these leaders are new to fair elections.  Sometimes we do not like the results of these elections.  We could not have saved Mubarack in Egypt!  Due to the Arab Spring, the situation has changed in the Middle East.  What has happened has been beyond our reach or control.  Now we are trying to ensure the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt holds.  It is very important that Israel does not have to divert troops, arms and money to secure the border with Egypt, especially when the Iran situation could blow up leading to multiple rocket attacks from Lebanon and Gaza.

The Middle East is extremely volatile and no one knows how individual Arab countries will eventually come to grips with the current reality.  Then there are those who, for whatever reason, want to suggest that Obama snubbed Netanyahu.  But that NEVER HAPPENED!  The person who promoted that lie did no favor to either the U.S. or Israel.  It would appear to be politically motivated.  Our politics should not interfere with our foreign affairs.  The same is true relative to Israel's politics.  It is shameful that Mr. Adelson interferes in both countries!  Romney's interference was also not warranted and led to increasing the problem rather than to a solution.  Romney was not helpful during this crisis and it became quite clear that he is unprepared to handle our country's foreign affairs if he should be elected to the presidency.

I do not usually read the German newspapers, so I will not respond to them directly.  I am glad the German government is generally on good terms with Israel.  At this time we need to present a united front to the world, especially when war(s) threatens.  For some reason, Romney has deviated from the long-term practice of keeping politics out of the country's foreign affairs when a crisis looms.  To try to weaken the president for political gain is foolish at best and indicates that Romney cares less for the country than for his own political prospects.  He also forgets or does not understand that his comments now will not be forgotten by foreign governments if he becomes president.

At the moment, Romney is considered a joke by Mr. Putin, by the British as a whole, and by the people in Poland.  His has not been an auspicious start in gaining the confidence of the world's leadership.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Obama - our best hope

The following is from an article in the Easy Chair section of the October 2012 issue of Harper's Magazine, entitled "The Maintenance Crew," by Thomas Frank.

   The central longing of presidential hero worship is to be led in some great adventure or act of national daring.  Mailer's reverential portrait of Kennedy, for example, dwelled on the candidate's existential promise, by which the novelist meant (if he meant anything at all) that JFK would gratify our 'pioneer lust for the unexpected and the incalculable.'

   Our need for the opposite is the reason I will vote to keep Barack Obama in the White House this fall.  We have an existential option before us, all right: an amazingly reinvigorated G.O.P. that has launched itself on a passionate crusade for pure capitalism.  It offers idealism and energy, it rages against government and regulation ... and it promises a huge serving of the unexpected and the incalculable.

   [...]  We really have no idea what will happen should they [the G.O.P.] take over the machinery of the state in January 2013.

   We know about the tax cuts they will enact, of course, and how those will defund operations in Washington.  We can guess pretty accurately how social-insurance programs will be crippled, how federal services will be outsourced, and how oversight agencies will be sabotaged.  But the right's holy war against every form of government involvement in the private sector---the Ayn Rand position that the G.O.P adopted after the financial crisis---this is something we haven't seen for a century or more.  They tell us it's a way to 'take back America,' but there is no recent chapter of American history to which we might turn for guidance or comparison.

   That's the path of boldness this year; an amped-up wrecking crew, turned loose on what remains of John Kenneth Galbraith's new industrial state.  Freedom through devastation---it's something of a utopian program, offered, ironically enough, by the so-called conservatives.

   I myself will decline to take that existential leap.  We know now that Barack Obama is no Superman.  He has been unimaginative and conventional.  On his watch, the banks got bigger.  The oceans continued to rise.  The wars sputtered on.  But at least he has been a conscientious administrator of the state.  He is not flamboyantly corrupt, in the manner of Tom DeLay and his congressional cohort, or gleefully perverse, in the manner of the Bush Administration's Department of Labor.  And that makes the choice easy for me, despite my disappointment:  I will choose the safe over the venturesome, the maintenance crew over the wrecking crew.  It doesn't make for a soaring slogan or an existential journey, but it's the best we can hope for this time around.

Science Proves the Existence of Heaven and Hell

[Disclaimer:  This piece was sent to me by a friend.  I do not know who is the author.  Please note the story may be legend, but that does not deny the validity of its message.]

The following involves a "bonus" question given on a University of Washington mid-term exam.  One student's answer was so "profound" that the professor shared it with colleagues via the Internet which is the reason we can enjoy it as well.

Bonus question:  Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant.

One student, however, wrote the following:

First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time.  So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving.  I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave.  Therefore, no souls are leaving.

As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today.  Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to hell.  Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell.  With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume of Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.

This gives two possibilities:

1)  If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

2)  If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it?

If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, 'it will be a cold day in Hell before I go out with you,' and take into account the fact that I went out with her last night, then number 2 must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over.

The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct. ... leaving only Heaven, thereby proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting, 'Oh my God."


h/t to Art Woodstone