Thursday, April 27, 2017

Does Vulgarity and Misused Technology Threaten Civilization? Keep Drinking?

As any rational and objective person thought. (See 1 and 1a below.)
When we look back upon the 21st Century, I believe we will find it was one of the most impactful man has ever experienced and it will be attributable to our acceptance of 'vulgarity' and our dependency on technology which will reach the point where renegades will be able to destroy the world as conflicts will eventually be fought in space.

Coarseness has penetrated virtually every aspect of our life, our society our culture, our morals even our speaking and literature. The "F" word can be a noun, an adjective a verb. It has become a word for all seasons. It serves the purpose of supplanting the fact that language is no longer as useful a tool as it once was. Language is fast being replaced by technology messaging and symbolized short cuts.

R rated movies are no longer relegated to and/or shown in seedy theaters.  Even political speech has become laced with expletives and vulgarity. Young children grow up in households where cursing and physical abuse are commonplace  and we wonder why bullying is on the increase.

Protecting children by distancing them from their own parents, because of PC'ism, has gone beyond logic and, I believe, it reflects itself in behaviour that has "Gone Wild" to cite the popular porn video of college students etc.

Guns are everywhere, killings are pervasive local fare on TV and in movies and the bloodier the better. Can you imagine and/or find an HBO Comedy Show that is actually "clean." In fact, I submit, comedy is no longer actually meant to be funny but rather shocking and it even loses on that score because nothing shocks anymore. George Carlin was at least clever. Not sure I can say the same about Mort Saul.

In the sixties, nudity found its way onto legitimate Broadway stages relegating vaudeville burlesque, by comparison, to be viewed as comparatively mild.

As vulgarity becomes acceptable and killings become a daily reality the level of destruction from war will follow.  As technology overcomes more and more natural barriers, I believe wars will occur in space.  Furthermore, as robots replace humans the tragedy visited upon humanity will spread.

I have never claimed to be ritualistically religious. I seldom attend my synagogue but I have always been respectful of those who are religious, who believe there is a God and I have always said it would be a dull world if man did not believe in a higher being.  For me it is nature but I acknowledge even nature had a beginning.

The spread of radical Islam cannot be denied and/or ignored. Obama chose to do so and he was able to use PC as a way of labeling those who disagreed "racists." I believe the recent rash of  anarchy on college campuses has gotten out of hand and perhaps is peaking because it is even becoming obvious to silent liberals their own freedoms may be threatened.  When Bill Mahr becomes concerned about campus protests restricting free speech as mattering  we must have really reached a frightening level. However, don't hold your breath waiting for Streisand (See 2 below.) and Michael Moore to lend their voices in protest against the anarchists.

In the recent issue of The Weekly Standard, there is an excellent book review of Marc Eliot's biography: "Charlton Heston - Hollywood's Last Icon." Heston, one of tinsel town's biggest stars, was ostracized when he turned conservative and moved to the political right.  He was not an ideologue but he did deplore Hollywood's glorification of promiscuity and abandonment of traditional values.

I will not be around to see whether my thinking proves omniscient and I hope it proves wrong.  I have always seen the fly in the ointment.It is part of my pessimistic nature.

I do acknowledge that, so far,  good has generally conquered evil.  My concern is that those who have access to destructive weaponry will ultimately be capable of causing such tragedy good/victory may only be described as Pyrrhic in nature.
Married 45 years
After being married for 45 years, I took a careful look at my wife one day and said, "Forty five years ago we had a cheap house, a junk car, 
slept on a sofa-bed and watched a 10-inch black and white TV.  But hey I got to sleep every night with a hot 23-year-old girl.
Now ... I have a $750,000 home, a $45,000 car, a nice big bed and a large screen TV, but I'm sleeping with a 68-year-old woman.  
So I said to my wife "it seems to me that you're not holding up your side of things."
My wife is a very reasonable woman.  She told me to go out and find a hot 23-year-old girl and she would make sure that I would 
once again be living in a cheap house, driving a junk car, sleeping on a sofa bed and watching a 10-inch black and white TV.
Aren't aging women great?
They really know how to solve an old guy's problems!
 I mean, seriously, 
wouldn't you just keep drinking? 
1) The Iran nuclear deal: Worse than we thought

 Regardless of how the Obama administration described their nuclear deal with Iran, it increasingly looks like history will judge the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) as being as bad as or worse than the 1994 Agreed Framework with North Korea.
Long before Donald Trump allowed—temporarily—strategist and former Breitbart editor Stephen Bannon onto the National Security Council, President Obama ensconced Ben Rhodes on the council to coordinate spin and media strategy. Rhodes famously created an echo chamber to downplay or deny weaknesses in the agreement.
Two new revelations highlight just how dishonest senior Obama administration officials—especially Secretary of State John Kerry and his immediate staff—were in their handling of Iran.
First, a relatively minor revelation: Analyst Omri Ceren, whose granular analysis of U.S. and Iranian statements and agreements with regard to the Iranian nuclear deal remains a daily must-read, highlights the following statement from Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, quoting the JCPOA in order to allege U.S. violation:
Senior Government Officials of the E3/EU+3 and Iran will make every effort to support the successful implementation of this JCPOA, including in their public statements.
A footnote clarified that this applied to senior U.S. administration officials.
There were so many flaws with the JCPOA that this one didn’t really receive the attention it should have. In effect, Kerry agreed to spin the JCPOA. In an Orwellian twist, pointing out Iranian violations of the JCPOA becomes a violation itself.
It is deeply ironic that, in an era when politicians of both parties complain about “fake news,” Congress endorsed an agreement that mandated falsities. The only silver-lining to the objection of Zarif is that “make every effort” is ill-defined and is not infinite. Let us hope that, however Obama and Kerry interpreted the passage, Trump and Tillerson embrace the notion that “every effort” does not extend to lying, as Zarif seems to suggest it should.
As damaging as the JCPOA was—it completely reversed the precedent established by the dismantling of South Africa and Libya’s nuclear programs and left Iran with more centrifuges than Pakistan had when it built not a nuclear weapon but an entire arsenal—equally destructive was the Obama administration’s willingness to unravel investigations into Iran’s secret procurement program which seems to have continued even after the JCPOA was signed. Josh Meyer at Politico has the scoop:
In reality, some of [those against whom the Obama administration dropped charges] were accused by Obama’s own Justice Department of posing threats to national security. Three allegedly were part of an illegal procurement network supplying Iran with U.S.-made microelectronics with applications in surface-to-air and cruise missiles like the kind Tehran test-fired recently, prompting a still-escalating exchange of threats with the Trump administration. Another was serving an eight-year sentence for conspiring to supply Iran with satellite technology and hardware. As part of the deal, U.S. officials even dropped their demand for $10 million that a jury said the aerospace engineer illegally received from Tehran.
And in a series of unpublicized court filings, the Justice Department dropped charges and international arrest warrants against 14 other men, all of them fugitives. The administration didn’t disclose their names or what they were accused of doing, noting only in an unattributed, 152-word statement about the swap that the U.S. “also removed any Interpol red notices and dismissed any charges against 14 Iranians for whom it was assessed that extradition requests were unlikely to be successful.” Three of the fugitives allegedly sought to lease Boeing aircraft for an Iranian airline that authorities say had supported Hezbollah, the U.S.-designated terrorist organization. A fourth, Behrouz Dolatzadeh, was charged with conspiring to buy thousands of U.S.-made assault rifles and illegally import them into Iran. A fifth, Amin Ravan, was charged with smuggling U.S. military antennas to Hong Kong and Singapore for use in Iran. U.S. authorities also believe he was part of a procurement network providing Iran with high-tech components for an especially deadly type of IED used by Shiite militias to kill hundreds of American troops in Iraq.
The biggest fish, though, was Seyed Abolfazl Shahab Jamili, who had been charged with being part of a conspiracy that from 2005 to 2012 procured thousands of parts with nuclear applications for Iran via China. That included hundreds of U.S.-made sensors for the uranium enrichment centrifuges in Iran whose progress had prompted the nuclear deal talks in the first place.
All of this was done not only to ransom U.S. hostages—something about which subsequent revelations show two State Department officials outright lied in Congressional testimony before the Financial Services Committee—but to protect the fiction that the deal was working and relations were on the mend. In short, Secretary of State John Kerry and his aides sought to pervert justice and bury facts to preserve a political fiction regardless of the damage that the reality of Iran’s actions could inflict on the region and U.S. national security.
Over the last half-century, intelligence politicization most frequently occurs in support of high-profile diplomacy when politicians engage in initiatives which they believe too important to fail. Never before, however, has an administration or a secretary of state agreed to self-censor and mislead.
It is wrong to criminalize policy debate as some politicians and pundits tried to do during the Bush administration but, given that the JCPOA applies just as much to the Trump administration as it did to Obama, it is long past time for Congress to demand the testimony John Kerry, his chief of staff and top aides, in order to understand just what risks they were willing to inflict on the United States of America for what appears increasingly to be a Potemkin agreement.

1a) Obama's Legacy

As we approach the 100-day mark of the Donald Trump presidency, it is instructive to recall the almost 100 months during which Barack Obama discharged the responsibilities of that high office. While there are reasons to be concerned about President Trump (and reasons to be encouraged, such as the presence of individuals like National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster and Defense Secretary James Mattis), it is obviously far too soon to render judgment on Trump's foreign policy.

But it is not too soon to judge President Obama's. That judgment is increasingly hard to contest: The Obama years have been weighed in the balance and found wanting. Severely wanting.
By the end of Obama's presidency, the U.S. standing in the world was weaker—clearly and appreciably weaker—than when he became president. The force of American power was diminished, and freedom was in retreat. By the end of Obama's presidency, was there a single part of the world where the United States was in a stronger position than when he took office? Was there an ally who was more confident or an adversary who was less so? By the end of Obama's presidency, were any important countries either friendlier or freer than they had been when he took over?
The answer to all these questions: no.
Let's push the argument a bit further. Let's compare Barack Obama with his predecessor. Whatever legitimate criticisms of George W. Bush's foreign policy one can make—and we made many contemporaneously and would still make many—let's be clear: Bush basically succeeded. Obama basically failed.
Bush's surge worked in Iraq, and it took Obama's withdrawal in 2011 to give away many of the gains. Obama's surge in Afghanistan also worked, but it was Obama himself who willfully frittered away those hard-won gains. Both Iraq and Afghanistan are in worse shape than they were eight years before.

What about Iraq's neighbor, Iran? Bush could have done more, but the situation only got worse under Obama. Bush at least began the construction of a pretty strict regime of international sanctions against the mullahs, a sanctions regime Obama threw away in 2015. Bush's much-decried commitment to a freedom agenda helped lay the groundwork for the attempted Green revolution in 2009—an uprising Obama pointedly refused to help.
Several bad actors began leading their nations in the wrong direction under Bush. But Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to name two, did more damage to their own countries, and abroad, under Obama. And once the Chinese leaders saw Obama's failure to enforce the red line against Syria in 2013, they went on the offensive in the South China Sea in a way that wouldn't have occurred to them under Bush.
As for Syria, what can one say? Obama's policy has been an unalloyed strategic, political, and moral disaster, with implications throughout the Middle East and beyond. Those implications include the migrant crisis in Europe—a continent in far worse shape strategically and politically than under Bush.

President Bush should have boosted defense spending more than he did. But President Obama left the military underfunded to the tune of $100 billion a year, compared with the number his own defense secretary thought minimally acceptable. Bush actually made the case for various national security intelligence programs, and defended them vigorously. Obama didn't, and their support among the public and on the Hill is now more tenuous.
Then there is the unfinished business of both presidencies: the war on terror. Bush didn't pretend that the struggle against al Qaeda and its offshoots would be anything but a long, arduous war. Obama, once he had enjoyed his signal success with the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in 2011, spent the remaining five years of his presidency repeatedly misleading the American people with unwarranted happy talk about al Qaeda being "on the run" and unforgivably scoffing at ISIS as the "junior varsity."
Is this picture a bit overdrawn? Sure. But add all the details you like, and it wouldn't fundamentally change.
Indeed the real question about the Obama legacy probably should be: Has America ever had a worse foreign policy president? We can't think of who that would be.
Looking back at the Obama years, we are reminded—as we so often are—of the words of Winston Churchill. Speaking in the House of Commons on March 24, 1938, he said:

For five years I have talked to the House on these matters—not with very great success. I have watched this famous island descending incontinently, fecklessly, the stairway which leads to a dark gulf. It is a fine broad stairway at the beginning, but after a bit the carpet ends. A little further on there are only flagstones, and a little further on still these break beneath your feet.
Thanks to Barack Obama, the flagstones today lie broken beneath our feet. Whatever judgment we'll eventually make on the Trump presidency, we should bear in mind the unenviable situation he inherited. And hope against hope that he rises to the occasion.
2)  Barbra Streisand Still Making Hillary Excuses 

Singer Barbra Streisand has suggested that America’s misogynistic tendencies are to blame for former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s loss in the 2016 campaign.

“Women are still so underestimated; it’s incredible to watch even this last election with Hillary, the kind of strong woman, the powerful woman, the educated woman, the experienced woman, being thought of as the other, or too elite, or too educated,” the 75-year-old icon told WNYC’s Leonard Lopate on Wednesday.

“It’s very, very odd to me, and it was heartbreaking for her to lose, you know?” Streisand said, adding that “power and woman has always been suspect. Strong women have always been suspect in this country.”

Streisand spent much of the presidential campaign working to get Clinton elected and bashing then-Republican candidate Donald Trump.

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