Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Palestine

What is Palestine and who are the Palestinians? I see so many horseshit arguments essentially claiming the people who call themselves Palestinians have no claims to land in the Middle East.

The idea of 1,000 year ancestral lands is hyperbole at best but doesn't really enter into the picture. What occurred in the 19th century is irrelevant as well. What matters is what has occurred starting with the Mandate for Palestine in 1922 which is the first internationally recognized legal document associated with the area known as Palestine. What is Palestine? It is the area defined by the British and ratified by both the League of Nations and the United Nations. Who are the Palestinians? They are the descendants of some of the Arab population of Palestine in 1948 that fled the fighting. The name "Palestinian" didn't really come into widespread use until the 1960s. The Mandate for Palestine incorporated the Balfour Declaration of 1917 in which the British government declared support for a Jewish homeland. The preamble of the Mandate states "Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have also agreed that the Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2nd, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country." Note the "it being clearly understood that nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine" part. Based upon 1914 Ottoman statistics there were approximately 657,000 Muslim Arabs, 81,000 Christian Arabs, and 59,000 Jews in the areas of the Ottoman empire that made up the League of Nations definition of Palestine (there was no political subdivision called Palestine in the Ottoman Empire). The formation of a Jewish homeland was formalized in Article 2. Article 25 gave the Mandatory, Britain, with the approval of the league, the right to define the actual area covered by the Mandate which they did in the Trans-Jordan Memorandum in September of 1922. The memorandum excluded Trans-Jordan from articles 2, 4, 6, 7, 11 13, 14, 22, 23, and parts of the Preamble. The exclusion included all the articles of the Mandate concerning a Jewish National Home. The memorandum was also approved by the league so Jordan is not, and never was, intended to be the Palestinian homeland. It is important to remember that Britain, in the 1920s, was still operating according to its own imperial ideas and for its own perceived benefit. The League of Nations was little more than a toothless rubber stamp for those ideas. If Russia or the United States (or Germany for that matter) had been members of the league in 1922 perhaps things would have been different but neither of them were. From 1922 to the 1940s there was on again off again Jewish migration to the Palestine area where they bought and developed the land to everyone in the region's economic benefit. There was also what amounted to a three way pissing contest, sometimes violent, between Jews, Arabs and the British. Article 14 of the Mandate laid the following responsibility upon the British "A special commission shall be appointed by the Mandatory to study, define and determine the rights and claims in connection with the Holy Places and the rights and claims relating to the different religious communities in Palestine." This was something the British never got around to doing. Finally in 1948 Britain dumped the whole mess into the hands of the United Nations. At that time there were 1,180,000 Muslim Arabs, 143,000 Christian Arabs and 630,000 Jews in the area known as Palestine. The United Nations came up with a horse defined by committee and partitioned the area into an Arab controlled portion, a Jewish controlled portion and an international zone comprising Jerusalem and Bethlehem. The Arabs rejected the partition and the shooting started shortly after the UN passed the partition resolution and hasn't stopped since. It's a mess. It's an absolute mess. I'm not sure what makes sense but technically, based upon the UN partition plan, the people who call themselves Palestinians may well be entitled to a homeland. On the other hand, also based upon the UN partition plan, the Jews are entitled to a homeland. Both are entitled to live in peace. The sooner the two parties recognize these realities the sooner things can start moving toward a permanent solution.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff

Ah yes, the expose on the inner workings of the Trump White House.

I haven't read the book nor do I intend to. Instead, I'm doing my best to ignore the whole thing. Here's the problem, I would have no way of verifying what Wolff says in his book and I know nothing about the author so I can't even use strength of character as a justification for accepting his claims.

I can guarantee you this. Some of the claims are true; some of the claims aren't true and a lot of the claims are partially true but embellished.

You're not going to sell many books if you don't do a really good job of playing to the fears of Trump's opponents.

So this is at the very least the old poison pen trick. It's trial by accusation and it's very, very difficult to refute all of the claims. It would be like getting all the bad stuff back into Pandora's Box.

Even if one could manage to refute all the claims there would still be a lingering stain.

The book sold a million copies in four days. This guy Wolff must be laughing all the way to the bank.

The only thing it's going to accomplish is it will wider the wedge. To Trump's supporters it's just another example of a corrupt media out to get their guy. To Trump's critics it will serve to deepen the puzzlement over how anyone could have voted for him.

I don't need a book to tell me Trump is potentially dangerous. It looks to me like he has Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

People with NPD don't take criticism well, need constant attention and admiration and can act unpredictably if they're not treated as they think they deserve.

This is NOT the sort of guy you want in possession of the nuclear codes.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Have to love those F-52s

Trump has announced that Norway has purchased a number of F-52 aircraft from the US. The only problem is there is no such plane as the F-52.

Norway bought F-35s.

I would give him a pass on this one if Norway has purchased 52 F-35s but they only bought forty. Maybe Trump was thinking of the Norwegians estimate of the life cycle costs of 52 F-35s that was presented in the Canadian House of Commons?

In any event, I don't think it's too much to ask of the Commander in Chief to know the name of his country's premier fighter aircraft.

Except it isn't a fighter. The F-22 is a fighter. The F-35 is a flying sensor platform with muscle. It's capable of bringing to bear punishment from multiple platforms in a network cloud that covers land, sea and air. Plus it packs a wallop all its own with no help from anywhere else.

As time goes on the F-35's array of software will be finding new and ever more destructive ways of bringing maximum violence to bear.

Shithole Countries?

I've decided that there is a real danger of getting "used to Trump."

I've not going to get into a discussion of whether places like Haiti or some African countries are "shitholes, " whatever that might mean, or not.

The issue is the President of the United States should not be using that kind of language in a public meeting.

We all know Nixon cursed like hell in private, and I'll bet Johnson wasn't far behind them, but at least in public were perfect gentlemen.

Now, I've been known to use profanity when the situation called for it, but never in polite company. This guy is a pig and the simple fact that it seems like the countries of people of color are shitholes while those nice white population are just spiffy implies a much bigger problem.

This moron is a serious embarrassment but the fact that people voted for him, and will most likely vote for him again, is an even bigger embarrassment.

We Don't Need No Leviticus

So I recently encountered an apologist that dismissed the need to use Leviticus in condemning homosexuality because Jesus fulfilled the law. This was a way of getting around all the other stuff in the OT that Christians ignore.

Instead he declared that Romans 1: 22-23 and 1 Corinthians 9-10 condemn homosexuality and that's good enough for him.

Except both Romans and 1 Corinthians are written by Paul and we know that Paul often uses his own opinion because he tells us that himself.

Besides, Romans 1:26-27 refers to Pagans as explained in line 22 & 23 and no one is really sure what 1 Corinthians refers to.

Romans 1:22-23 "Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles." 

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 "Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." 

The problem with this verse are the two words translated here as "men who have sex with men." This translation is from the NIV which also has a footnote which states definitively "The words men who have sex with men translate two Greek words that refer to the passive and active participants in homosexual acts."

Yeah, well, maybe. The two words are "malakos" and "arsenokoites." The KJV is actually better and translates these two words as "effeminate" and "abusers of themselves with mankind."

The NKJV is totally dishonest and translates them as "homosexuals," and in a footnote says "that is catamites" which are boy slaves kept for homosexual purposes, and "sodomites."

The NRSV translates them as "male prostitutes" and "sodomites."

So what do they really mean? "Malakos" literally means "soft" but there are examples of it being used to mean "effeminate" as well. Since Paul is listing people who aren't getting into the "kingdom of God" I suppose "effeminate would make more sense than "soft." But "effeminate" is not the same thing as homosexual.

he second word "arsenokoites" is a neologism. There is no evidence of it being used prior to 1 Corinthians and subsequent uses are usually when Paul is being referred to or sinful behavior is being listed. It's a compound word consisting of "male" and "bed" so literally a "male bed."

Since Paul was listing sinful behaviors once has to assume it's a behavior consisting of a male and a bed. But exactly what, no one really knows. Granted, that something related to homosexual sex is very possible, but you would think the All Knowing, All Powerful, Creator of Heaven and Earth could have come up with something a tiny bit clearer.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

End of the Year

Well, 2017 is almost done.

I sort of didn't follow College Football this year. Getting lazy I suppose.

Elsewhere Roy Moore lost the election to Doug Jones and then went on a sore loser sort of tear blaming voter fraud and just about anything else for his loss. In the end he decided it was all the Democrats fault. Well, at least he got that one right.

Trump got his tax reform package but any relationship between it and what he's been promising is about non-existent. The one portion of it that really burns my ass is the 2.9% drop in the highest tax rate. If they had left that alone, I could have accepted the rest.

Oh well, onward and whatever. Happy New Year.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Roy Moore and Sexual Assault

Well it's been a long time since I bothered to write about anything and I'm so ashamed but this requires some words.

I've sort of been sitting back and watching accusation after accusation come out about men acting badly. There was Harvey Weinstein, C.K. Lewis, Al Franken, John Conyers and the ever popular Roy Moore.

Some have admitted acting inppropriately and some have denied it. The accusations also span the gamut from trying to be funny to trying to rape someone to taking advantage of a position of power.

So what do I think? I think it depends. It depends on what was supposedly done. Rape, attempted rape, actual assault and demanding sex because you hold a position of authority over someone are either illegal, or should be illegal, and a nice vacation with Bubba as a cellmate strikes me as appropriate.

On the other hand, jokes in bad taste or misreading signals, as long as the misreading doesn't go too far, require no more than a sincere apology and then we can move on.

This of course ssumes the individual owns up to the act or it can be proven in  court.

So what about Roy Moore?

Look, Roy Moore is an asshole and his ideas are even worse but, at least so far, he has denied the accusations and the last time I looked you were still innocent until proven guilty.

Besides, the age of consent in Alabama is 16 and all of the accusations except one involve girls 17 or older. Hey, a 30 year old guy chasing 17 year olds is creepy but not illegal unless he engaged in rape, attempted rape or actual assault which would need to be proven and, at least so far, it hasn't been.

The accusation from the 14 year old, if there was actual sexual contact is a different story. Under Alabama law that would be sexual assault but again, it would hve to be proven. An accusation is not enough.

I wouldn't vote for Moore in any event because I find his politics abhorrent but if I was going to vote for him before the accusations came out, I don't think mere accusations would, or should, change my mind.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Fat Acceptance

There is apparently this thing going around called "Fat Acceptance" or "Body Positivity" which takes the position that you can be beautiful and healthy at ANY weight.

I first tripped over it indirectly when I encountered a video on YouTube of women breaking their scales with hammers. I say women because the movement appears to be overwhelmingly, if not exclusively, composed of females.

I have to admit that I'm baffled by the very idea.

No, if you're morbidly obese you're not beautiful especially if I have to sit next to you on a plane or at the theater,

But we need to be careful quoting "overweight" statistics based upon the BMI. The BMI has all sorts of issues. For instance how can men and women use the same formula? Men have a larger percentage of muscle and muscle weighs more. I'm 6'1" and 192 pounds. That's a BMI of 25.3 so I'm "overweight, something that no one has ever accused me of.

Some folks argue that this is really a discussion about health rather than appearance.

If you really want to turn the discussion toward health then you have to consider that women, because of how they put on fat, can actually handle being more overweight than men. Similarly as one ages one tends to gain weight as their BMR goes down but it doesn't mean they're unhealthy. These are two more issues with the one size fits all BMI.

The bottom line is that weight and it's correlation with health can be complicated. Obesity on the other hand, a BMI over 30, is bad even with as doubtful a scale as the BMI. Morbid obesity, a BMI over 40, is death walking. There's the real danger in this fat acceptance idea. The absurdity that you can be even morbidly obese without detrimental affects to your health.

I do notice that most of the fat women championing this cause are still pretty young and youth can compensate for a multiplicity of ills.

Life is a lottery. It's like a game of Russian Roulette where it all depends upon the luck of the spin. But if you're morbidly obese, it's like playing with five chambers loaded rather than only one.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Las Vegas

A man decides to take a dozen or so of his 42 guns to a room at the Mandalay Bay and then opens fire at a crowded country music concert.

This is nuts.

The big question is why?

'He didn't appear to be a religious whack job or have strong political associations. There was no outward sign of mental illness although some statements by his girlfriend that he would lie in bed screaming and moaning could have pointed in that direction.

He lived in Mesquite which about an hour and a half from Vegas and reportedly engaged in high stakes poker. But I haven't seen anything saying he ran up big debts.

His father was apparently a nut, a psychopath that spent time on the FBI's most wanted list who was captured not far from where the shooting took place after a gun battle with police.

Stephen Paddock's attack on the concert crowd left 58 people dead and 500 injured. I suppose the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

This has re-opened the issue of gun control and even the NRA has indicated they might be willing to accept some additional restrictions on firearm accessories including items which allow semi-automatic weapons to be converted into fully automatic weapons.

I'm a radical on gun control. This formula is 100% accurate. NO_GUNS = NO_GUN_DEATHS. If you ever figure out why it's wrong, give me a call,