Friday, July 31, 2015


I guess this clarifies that they are okay with stabbing anyone else:
Late Thursday, Benzion Gopstein, the leader of Lehava — which has attempted to stop Jews from marrying Muslims — issued a statement condemning the authorities for allowing the “provocative” parade to take place but clarifying that his group is “against stabbing Jews.”

Let me get this straight

Mullah Omar died two years ago in a hospital in Pakistan. No one outside of the Taliban knew he died until a few days ago when Pakistani intelligence managed to confirm his death somehow and decided to tell the world. Despite the fact that his death occurred two years ago, the Taliban did not figure out his successor until this week.

Apparently, the group really fine with being leaderless, even as they are prosecuting a war with Afghan government forces, right up until the news of Omar's death broke the other day. It is only then that they suddenly (and quickly) designated a successor.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

off to see attle

I've never seen it before (except for the airport)

Almaty 2022!

I waiver between not giving a shit at all about the Olympics and actively disliking the whole thing. And I think that hosting Olympic games (as Philly occasionally makes noises about wanting to do) would be an absolute disaster for the city, causing way more problems than it will ever solve.

But that said, for some reason I can't help but root for Kazakhstan to get the 2022 Winter Olympics out of sheer loyalty to the country. Also maybe it would get people to learn more about the place. Also, well, um, considering how much I otherwise don't like the Olympics it doesn't really make much sense. Maybe it's blind faith, but I actually think that if KZ hosts it may be good for the country overall, benefiting in a way that Philadelphia as a host city would not.

Also Almaty has real snow (it snowed when I was there in October ferchristssake). Surely that should count for something in a winter Olympics bid.

UPDATE (7/31/15): Oh well. The vote was close though.

Public shaming is never a good idea

I'm not a fan of big game hunters, but I gotta say I am a little embarrassed to watch so many friends jump on the public shaming bandwagon in this case. I'm not a fan of what Dr. Palmer did and I think he should be prosecuted. But I don't think an online mobs seeking to destroy someone's life is a good thing no matter who the target is.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

If there is no polling threshold for the debate, it won't just be 16

This change could cause more problems than Fox has anticipated. Without the polling threshold, every declared GOP presidential candidate is entitled to take part. But there are a lot more declared candidates than Fox News and Politico seem to be aware of.1 By my count, there are 35 declared Republican Candidates for President, not 16.

In every presidential election, a lot of people run who get zero coverage in the media. I really mean zero, not just Carly Fiorina-style "zero coverage." I'm talking about people like Skip Andrews, John Dummett Jr., and Jack Fellure. People who the national press completely ignores. I believe at least some, if not all of them, meet Fox's remaining criteria for participation (I'm not sure if they all have filed with the FEC, but Fellure, at least, has). If polls are no longer a threshold, why can't they get on TV with the rest of the clowns from the car?

(via Memeorandum)

1-Speaks volumes, doesn't it?

To answer Dan De Lice's question...

...yes, it looks like the U.S. has sold out the Kurds. That seemed to be the price for getting Turkey on the anti-ISIS bandwagon.

This is all part of a time-honored tradition of Western powers screwing the Kurds. And this screwing is almost in time for the 100th anniversary of Sykes-Picot!

Picking a nit

So I read this sentence in this article about how Turkish sympathy for the Turkic-speaking Uighurs is complicating Turkish-Chinese relations:
Turkey, heir to the Ottoman Empire, has long seen itself as a protector of Turkic-speaking people across the arc of Central Asia — and that includes the mostly Muslim Uighurs in China’s western region of Xinjiang, where ethnic tensions and outbursts of violence between Uighurs and ethnic Han, the dominant group in China, have been rising because of what Uighurs say is official repression, though Chinese officials blame terrorist ideology.
The first part of the sentence is odd, because the Ottoman Empire was not really a protector of Turkic-speaking people. The Ottoman Empire was a multi-ethnic empire that was Turkish ruled, but did not claim territory or justify its legitimacy based on ethnicity like the modern nation-state does. The Ottomans didn't always have good relations with their Turkic-speaking cousins in Central Asia either (e.g.). Pan Turkism (and the broad sympathy that comes with it for far-flung Turkic cousins like the Uighur) didn't exist until the last century of the Ottoman Empire and it is one of the forces that tore that country apart. It's not because modern Turkey is the heir to the Ottoman Empire that it sees itself as a champion of Turkic peoples around the world, it is because nationalism became the new grounds for national legitimacy when the Ottoman Empire collapsed. In that sense, pan-Turkic nationalism is a rejection of their Ottoman legacy, not the product of it.

(Yes, I realize that one sentence does not really matter. This is not a criticism of the overall article or the point it was making. Rather, this is just a reflection of my own obsession with Pan-Turkism (particularly since 2010). For Example. In any case, if I can't pick a nit, what is the point of having a blog?)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Plan B

Why would anyone seriously call for an investigation of this  They would have been crazy not to. Besides, the introduction of a new currency (or even the revival of an old one) has to be planned for in secrecy for it to work.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Cut your hair and get a job

This silly spat between Ted Cruz and William Shatner is the perfect excuse to post this awesome video.


Papal questions

My big question about the Secret Service's plan to pretty much stop all human activity in the core of Philadelphia for the duration of the Pope's visit is: does this happen everywhere the Pope goes?

The Pope spends a lot of his time traveling the world. The security measures leaked for the Pope's Philadelphia visit are so insane, it is hard to believe this is what every city on every stop of his tour will do. I guess most of those stops are outside of the U.S. and thus outside of the jurisdiction of the U.S. Secret Service.

But if this is just the Secret Service overdoing things, aren't they also in charge of Presidential security? Presidents visit Philadelphia fairly regularly. It happens at least several times a year. Obama was here last week. The Secret Service doesn't shut down the city every time a President shows up. So why is the Pope's visit requiring such a comprehensive shut down of the city's transit system (both public transit and the roads) which will make it impossible for tens of thousands of people to go about their lives, or even see the Pope on his visit?

Besides, the Pope isn't just coming to Philly on his U.S. visit. He will also be in NYC and DC. Is the Secret Service fucking over the residents of those cities as well?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

RIP Don Joyce

How the RNC could have narrowed the debate pool and boxed in Trump on a third party run

It is probably too late to change the rules and do it now, but why didn't the RNC make, as a condition of participating in the GOP primary debates, a public disavowal of running for president as an Independent or third party candidate? That would have forced Trump to either rule out a third party candidacy, or be excluded from the debates (which would suggest he is not a serious candidate). The GOP needs to winnow down the debate participants anyway. Am I the only one to think of this?

(I understand that Trump could have disavowed a third party candidacy to get into the debates and then "changed his mind" later on. But that flip-flop would hurt Trump, even if it didn't get rid of him entirely)

The current Pope talks about a wide range of things, shocking American conservatives

This is not surprising at all.

For most of my adult life, Catholicism has been associated in the American public's mind with a particular brand of social conservatism. During that time, the American church has mostly taken public stances on only two political issues: abortion and gay rights. Officially the church has long been anti-poverty, pro-labor, and anti-death penalty, and it opposed the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. But if you just followed American politics you would never know it. Under Jean-Paul II and Benedict, the American Catholic church seemed determine to make itself seem like a branch of the Christian right. American Bishops talked about denying Catholic politicians communion because they were pro-choice. But I don't recall any ever floating the idea of denying communion to a politician who was pro-death penalty, even though both the Church's position on abortion and the death penalty stem from the same "pro-life" philosophy.

Pope Francis has not changed the official Catholic position on very many issues. What he has done is talk publicly about the church's position on a wider variety of topics than the American public is used to hearing. For the first time since the late 1970s, there is a Pope who is not presenting himself in the U.S. as Pat Robertson in fancier clothes.

(semi-related posts from my archives: 1 2 3)